Automation & Artificial Intelligence in Self-Service

Introduction

Valuing peoples time, being responsive and offering convenient contact options is how businesses are setting themselves apart from the competition and differentiating their offering.

To serve our desire for instant responses, 24/7, companies need to begin offering more advanced levels of self-service incorporating intelligent automation. Self-service is a key and increasingly important part of an integrated customer experience and customers want to start by self-serving if the option is available. When it works it enables the contact centre to focus on higher value human to human interactions increasing productivity, efficiency and customer experiences. But consumers want to converse through multiple channels and prefer to use communication methods they are familiar with from their private life, whether this be Messenger clients, SMS, mobile apps, the Web or Voice.

The Technology

In order to automate through all channels and in real-time you need new self-service technologies. Bots, Virtual Assistants and Artificial intelligence are key technologies to support this. Virtual Assistants make use of AI platforms such as Natural Language Understanding (NLU)and Machine Learning (ML).

NLU is a process whereby applications can determine what a customer is asking for and determine the intent, once understood it can ask other pertinent questions to deliver an appropriate response. As an example, we would understand the following 3 phrases to mean the same thing:

  • ‘I can no longer make the appointment’
  • ‘I’ve managed to double book’
  • ‘I need to change the day of my appointment’

Machine learning is the process of refining and improving the language model over time based upon customer interactions and also input from system supervisors such as Super Agents.

Virtual Assistant

Virtual assistants are a method of enabling customers to find answers to questions or undertake discreet transactions over various digital channels. This can include interactions that are initiated during a visit to a Businesses website and also interactions via messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger or SMS.

Virtual assistants make use of AI platforms highlighted above. Virtual Assistants can be used to help automate various different tasks and they are generally known as bots.

Bot / Chatbot

A bot is software that can have a conversation with a human. It can answer questions, take instructions, respond or perform an action as appropriate. A chatbot can interact with a customer over several different channels and can be given an identity, a voice and even a personality. We typically break them down into 3 types of use cases. these being a Task Bot, an Info Bot and a Helper Bot.

Task bot

A task bot can automate various tasks on behalf of a customer. Examples include:

  • Checking a balance, resetting a password, arranging/cancelling/rescheduling an appointment
  • Sending outbound notifications such as reminders, updates or outages

It requires integration to your business systems to capture information about the caller, their details and any historic transactions which help direct the conversation in a more informed way. It can then update the systems to reflect requests captured in the call.

An Info Bot

An Infobot is an enhancement to common web-based knowledge bases where it provides more intelligence in navigating to the information you require. Using natural language speech or via streamlined messaging apps customers can get answers instantly without having to specifically phrase the question as it was stored.

Helper Bot

A Helper bot is designed to use AI to help your Agents / Customer Service Representatives with their day to day interactions. It trawls through real time information whilst actively monitoring the customer interaction to give fast and consistent answers to problems. It builds on the traditional “response libraries” and internal knowledge bases used by many organisations today and brings intelligence and relevance to the user.

Advantages & Challenges of Using Bots

Chatbots have several advantages over humans; they don’t sleep, they are fast, they can be very accurate and they don’t get frustrated doing repetitive tasks. On the other hand, they don’t always work, they’re not human and they rely on API’s. Chatbots therefore have the capacity to replace humans for certain tasks, or to augment teams by suggesting responses at the relevant time for the agents to act on. The key to giving a great customer experience is to recognise if things are going wrong and escalate to a human agent.


Communications Portal –  All Channels – One Solution

Communications Portal facilitates self-service integration for speech, messaging, interactive video, SMS, touch tone IVR and Visual IVR for Mobile smart devices and websites. It handles inbound and outbound communications through all channels & facilitates visual self-service to mobile apps & the web. This self-service application can also seamlessly integrate with the contact centre, by escalating to an agent, enabling call backs, modifying the call priority and specifying the appropriate agent.

Messaging

Communicate with your customers through SMS, email, messaging applications or through a web browser/mobile app. Send, receive and forward emails and SMS; read content and act on content.

Speech

For customers who prefer to communicate with voice the platform enables rapid deployment of speech recognition, text to speech and speaker verification technologies. Its speech recognition API enables fast integration with all leading ASR engines.

Bots and Virtual Assistants

Introduce bots, virtual assistants and AI where appropriate. Automate responses through all media channels; offer 24 x 7 assistance and escalate to human agents if required.

Video/Multimedia

Stream multimedia content in audio, video or combine the two.

Integration

Connect via API’s to databases / knowledgebase sources and real-time feeds to read, store and update information. Interact with any Web Service to load and start scripts and notify channels. Create webpages with dynamic information from data sources, read web pages, speak back to a caller or screen-pop as appropriate. Integrate with external applications in Java.