The AI-Powered Virtual Agent by Frost & Sullivan
The following is an excerpt from Frost & Sullivan’s white paper, “The AI-Powered Virtual Agent: Actionable Strategies for Contact Center Leaders.”
“When it comes to the contact center specifically, companies are still focused on improving the CX while aiming to reduce costs. These objectives can be accomplished by leveraging cloud-based AI to automate more, but a series of notable roadblocks have remained fairly consistent for the contact center over time that have discouraged many from taking the path of AI automation.
- High Customer Expectations. Customers have always had high expectations of the contact center, but the advent of virtual personal assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant has changed the expectations for the ability of contact centers to deliver the same conversational experience. Yet contact centers are still rife with the same archaic, lengthy phone tree menus and minimal natural language self-service, leading to an inability to meet those high customer expectations.
- Limited Automation Options. Due to IVR and contact center system limitations, many businesses cannot offer better self-service options to customers. IVRs either lack the required advanced speech recognition and cognitive abilities to mimic live agent behavior, or the high cost of professional services and long implementation times make it too risky to try and automate something that may not even work. As a result, contact centers have an overt dependency on live agents to handle even the most rudimentary call types, chats, and data gathering processes…
While recent breakthroughs in AI research have led the news, when it comes to using AI to improve the CX and lower costs, it’s important to focus less on the wonders of AI’s potential, and more on the actual ways in which AI can provide practical solutions to specific CX-related challenges.
- Meeting High Customer Expectations. Using cloud-based conversational AI to enhance existing IVR and contact center platforms helps companies deliver the natural language experience that customers prefer and expect. New capabilities in speech recognition and natural language understanding help get to the root of customer issues, moving past simply recognizing what a customer said and into diagnosing what to do about it. Business strategies built on conversational AI can help deepen relationships with customers by learning more about them and helping to resolve issues in a manner that feels more natural and customized to each individual. Agile “conversation flows” that outline dialogue scenarios between automation and customers provide consistency in information gathering and data capture, a process that uses best practices to decrease customer effort and simplify the CX all along the customer journey. “When you think this way, you find efficiencies you didn’t realize were there and you’ll find that customers feel much more comfortable and natural engaging with the automation.”
- Overcoming Limited Automation Choices. Cloud-based AI automation can provide near-effortless natural language augmentation to contact centers in these 4 areas:
- Instead of menu-based routing that leads to long hold time and frustrates customers, greet every customer with a natural language “front door” – “How can I help you?” – and capture intent before routing calls and chats to live agents, AI agents, or other automation.
- Gather data upfront, such as customer authentication or product registration, which is passed along to live agents, delivering faster and more efficient support while shortening live agent handle time.
- Automate the most common inquiries handled by live agents such as order status, appointment scheduling, returns, and much more, with live agent failover in the instances AI automation is unable to fully contain. In such cases, the virtual agent passes along gathered information, so the live agent can naturally pick up where the virtual agent left off to finish the call.
- Perform outbound calls and texts with live agent failover for high success rates.
Using these contact types as a blueprint, businesses can mix cloud-based “AI agents” with their live agents in order to automate more, improve the CX, and reduce costs.”