In part one of this article we discussed the advantages of using a VoIP phone system and auto-attendants to manage incoming calls, as well as the benefits of using live agents. However, once a company grows beyond a certain size, it becomes impractical and increasingly costly to employ dedicated phone operators and attendants, so it is necessary for firms to rely on technology to help them deal with these issues.
The personality and personability of live agents was, up until very recently, almost impossible to recreate via an auto-attendant service, but that is now changing. With rapid advancements in AI and machine learning, systems can be built that interact and converse with customers when they call customer service or sales lines.
The idea was introduced several years back at Finovate 2013, where the technology was demonstrated for the public. They claimed at the time that the technology was: “Able to talk to the automated assistant just like he would to any real, live person. The assistant is actually conversational, and understands what the caller is saying, and even responds with appropriate humor and creativity. That is unheard of in the world of automated customer service.”
At the time the technology was very young and wasn’t great at actually being conversational, but it did provide real breakthroughs in voice recognition of phrases that would have been indecipherable to voice recognition software in previous years such as email addresses and web login ID’s.
Since 2013, Machine Learning and artificial intelligence has exploded into almost every corner of ever industry, including the auto-attendant sector. Huge companies such as AmTrak and BskyB are already using the technology to augment their customer service agents, rather than simply replacing them. It can help to provide more information for the customer service or sales rep once they eventually get on the phone, as well as predicting customer behavior (based on analysis of all call records that the company has). Nexmo have predicted that,
“In the coming years, AI will be crucial to the contact center but in much more of a background role. It will draw on multiple data sources to anticipate customer and company needs, handle interactions on its own where possible, and provide in-call support where needed. Humans will still be there for when the data–or simple common sense–shows they do a better job.”
Cloud Communications firms like Ring Central offer auto-attendant software as a part of their VoIP software that can seriously reduce the burden on live agents and these systems are only going to be further enhanced as AI receptionists develop and become the norm.
There are scenarios in which the need for human interaction will be eliminated, simple tasks like authorizing payments, sending money, or requesting a call back could all be done with today’s technology. However, whilst we could see AI auto-attendants appearing in more and more call centres and larger firms, they are unlikely to replace the need for human interaction to solve more complex problems.
We are fast approaching a point at which companies may choose not to employ any live agents or phone operators at all, relying solely on AI based auto-attendants. However, as is often the case, the technology will be best utilized when it augments and compliments humans, rather than simply replacing them.
Sponsored series courtesy of Ring Central
By Josh Hamilton