2020 is the year of customer service transformation. The unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic caused a wave of uncertainty and panic among consumers.
Customers’ natural tendency to prefer voice call support over other self-service channels in times of crisis led to unprecedented call volumes and put tremendous pressure on traditional IVR systems, support agents, and their ability to respond and address all queries. This led to longer than usual wait-times, with calls dropping automatically after a few minutes, thus increasing customers’ frustration levels. Moreover, most customers were unwilling to go through extensive IVR menus and frequent agent transfers or repeatedly ask the same query to get the right support.
Additionally, voice-based channels are not only difficult to scale but are costly too, as traditional voice interaction, on average, costs $15 per exchange. Yet, voice as a medium to provide customer support isn’t going anywhere but is undergoing a massive change with the emergence of AI-powered voice bots.
In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2023, 25% of customer interactions will be via voice.
So, let’s explore what voice bots are and why they are the future of contact center customer service.
A voice bot is a computer program that understands spoken natural language and uses synthesised voice to converse with people. AI-powered speech recognition technology enables voice bots to recognize users’ spoken queries and respond to inquiries using text or voice.
In other words, voice bots are computers that can speak with people.
These bots are a scalable way to provide engaging, personalized, and interactive human-like support and ensure speedy resolution for your customers. Moreover, they ease the burden of human agents, allowing them to focus on more productive, higher-value work and pressing customer issues.
For example, you want to book a flight. Now, instead of going through the myriad of traditional IVR options, simply call up the contact center and say, “I want to book a flight to New York.” The bot will ask you for other details, including the date of the journey, preferred departure time, and book for you the flight of your choice, or directly route you to the right agent, saving you the long and tiresome drill of a legacy IVR system.
Hence, voice bots shall pave the way for interactive and wholesome conversational IVR in the contact centers.
Here, we list down the core capabilities that a voice bot should have to deliver better conversational experiences.
Voice bots leverage natural language processing (NLP) to comprehend the semantics of the human language, including grammar, synonyms, canonical word forms, and slang.
Customers aren’t always literal in what they utter. NLP helps extract the intent behind user utterance and helps voice bots understand the meaning behind the words. For example, when a customer says phrases like “sure” or “why not,” the bot must be able to understand that they are most probably saying “yes.”
Hence, intent analysis is one of the most significant capabilities of a voice bot.
The ability to pause, listen, and speak accordingly, whenever a customer interrupts an ongoing interaction saying, “Sorry, but that’s not what I’m looking for” or “no, I am not interested in this product,” is one of the best features of a smart AI-enabled voice bot.
Speedy and efficient resolution is essential for every business. Therefore, a bot must be able to interpret and act at the same pace at which the customer speaks. Slow responses and lags may hamper the reputation of a business.
When a customer calls a business, they are looking for a fast response. For instance, after reaching a contact center, if customers need to identify themselves through details like account number, id, address, etc., it can really add to their frustration levels.
Therefore, optimal integration with the support desk database is vital for the bot to greet the caller by name, know caller history, identify the likely reason for the call based on past interactions and customer persona, and tailor suggestions based on the customer knowledge.
At any point during the conversation, if the bot is unable to answer the user issue or if the customer asks for an agent handover, the bot must be capable of transferring the call to the right human agent or subject matter expert.
An AI-powered voice bot must never stop learning. It should leverage its machine learning capabilities to improve accuracy and continuously learn from past interactions.
With voice bots, you can reap the following benefits –
Research by Harvard Business Review has concluded Customers who have a complaint handled in less than five minutes go on to spend more on future purchases.
Therefore, a customer complaint handled quickly can turn into a potential opportunity for earning more profit. Traditional IVRs force customers to go through multiple options and menus, wait for the next available agent, or try again during regular business hours. However, voice bots offer instant resolution with 24X7 support, even scheduling agent call-backs if needed.
A single voice bot can engage with thousands of customers at the same time and provide personalized support to each user. Moreover, by offloading mundane, repetitive tasks from human agents, contact centers can manage many more support issues than otherwise possible and dramatically reduce costs.
When it comes to speed, voice is any day faster and more customer-friendly than typing. Moreover, specific tasks, such as purchases, bookings, and cancellations, can be performed more quickly by bots than humans, hence reducing the overall transaction times.
Repetitive tasks, the mundane nature of everyday operations, and the pressure to close as many tickets as possible often sap the humanity out of support center agents. With bots taking over most of the repetitive tasks and easing the workload of contact center staff, your support staff can take out the time to deliver human connection whenever needed.
Voice bots continuously learn from past interactions and are equipped with natural language understanding (NLU) and synthesis; they can deduce what the customer really means and deliver more contextual, meaningful, and human-like conversations and provide personalized product recommendations. Such interactive voice engagements create opportunities for new sales.
Voice bots are indeed the future of contact center customer engagement. They lead to an enormous reduction in cost by taking over the resolution of common and repetitive queries at scale.
Moreover, they make personalized recommendations based on the customers’ preferences and previous purchases and enhance revenue through cross-selling and upselling.
The speed, accuracy, and 24X7 availability of voice bots improve first call resolution rates and positively impact customer experience.
At Acuvate, we help clients develop a voice of their own with our enterprise bot-building platform called BotCore, supporting them in delivering exceptional customer support by converting text to lifelike speech using Microsoft’s Azure Cognitive Services.
If you’d like to learn more about the top customer experience trends to watch for in 2021, please feel free to get in touch with one of our customer experience experts for a personalized consultation.