Call centers and interactive voice response systems are notorious for creating customer frustration. But new solutions that leverage artificial intelligence and automation aim to change that by providing customers and call center agents with the information they need more quickly. And that, the providers of these solutions say, will allow for better customer experiences and lower cost for the companies delivering that CX.
None other than IBM (News - Alert), the company that helped pioneer and popularize AI, is among those working to move this kind of thing forward. At its IBM Interconnect event today, the tech giant is introducing the IBM Watson Voice Gateway (News - Alert).
This software-only gateway can act as a cognitive self-service agent, directly interacting with customers over the telephone. In the process, it reduces the requirement for human call center agents, and related costs.
The IBM Watson Voice Gateway also can connect conversations between call center agents and users, and serve up customer details and other relevant information to the agent. IBM notes that it accelerates access to information, allows for more personalization, expedites call center rep training, improves call efficiency and user experience, and results in enhanced workforce optimization.
That’s significant because training and paying call center representatives is costly, and interacting with ineffective or difficult to navigate IVRs can create customer churn. Research indicates that IVRs in general have just a 51 percent customer satisfaction rate and cost 20 cents per call. What’s more, studies suggest that 7.3 percent of customers who use IVRs consider moving to competitors after using them.
The IBM Watson Voice Gateway is just one of the new solutions being unveiled today at IBM Interconnect. NetFoundry today is also introducing the NetFoundry AppWAN solution for IBM Watson. This offering allows for reliable and secure connectivity between businesses and contact centers, and Watson Services. And it integrates with IBM WebSphere Connect Voice Gateway for Watson.
“The Voice Gateway removes the burden of SIP/telephony/Watson integration from the contact center,” Galeal Zino, NetFoundry’s founder and president, explained in this blog. “The NetFoundry AppWAN for Watson connects the contact center to Watson, over any network, with security and reliability. Both products are software based, leveraging horizontally scalable, cloud native sets of microservices, deployable as on-premise[s] Docker containers, virtual machines or appliance, and as cloud images.”
IBM and NetFoundry are working with Fortune 500 companies on implementations of these solutions.
Artificial intelligence will be a key area of focus at Communications 20/20. The event’s Intelligible Interfaces Track will feature such sessions as “Siri, Cortana, Alexa, and Google (News - Alert) Walk into a Bar” and “Is Your Virtual Assistant Doing Its Job?.” The full program is available at this link.