By Sharon Chang
The world has fundamentally changed since the beginning of 2020 as businesses desperately try to adapt to the new normality caused by Covid-19. The unprecedented spread has placed enormous pressure on organisations on how to respond.
A lot of attention has been placed on how workplace technologies can help, with remote working, mobile technologies and unified communications and collaboration tools being essential themes. The customer service industry has been witnessing massive transformation in the way it functions.
The need for clarity has caused massive spikes in calls which increases the burden on contact centres in all sectors.
In that aspect, artificial intelligence in conversational AI with automation is proving its mettle and causing major upheaval and disruption in the contact centre industry.
In an interview with Business Today, Ravi Saraogi, Co-founder and President of Uniphore APAC, speaks on embracing conversational service automation in the new world order.
The rise of the digital age has resulted in customers wanting better and seamless experiences. Conversational AI leverages artificial intelligence for the use of speech-based assistants, chatbots and messaging applications to automate communication and create personalised customer experiences at scale.
It delivers transformational customer service experiences and a truly personalised yet highly scalable digital customer engagement for businesses, Ravi explains. “Due to this pandemic, technology has become a forerunner across multiple sectors.”
This is where Conversational AI and more specifically Conversational Service Automation (CSA) come in, Ravi points out, further explaining that CSA combines conversational AI, robotic process automation (RPA), and workﬂow automation in a conversation-centric platform deliver on the promised future of a transformed contact centre.
Businesses which use CSA can effectively guide customers through self–service options using AI, which in turn reduces the burden of calls on a contact centre agent.
“Imagine having the call transferred to a human agent by the platform immediately and seamlessly when required, along with all relevant information including the customer history,” Ravi says. This not only enables agents to service double the number of calls in the same amount of time but also provides them with instant solutions.
Furthermore, Ravi says CSA allows for better productivity as it frees human agents by taking over mundane and time-consuming tasks such as after call summaries.
“The technology not only has the benefit of eliminating human error, but it also delivers all of these improvements at lower costs,” he remarks. Companies and their contact centre can overcome the challenges of operating during the pandemic and beyond.
AI replacing human jobs
This is not true. In a response to a question, Ravi says in the realm of conversational AI, the biggest misconception is that virtual assistants will completely replace human interactions and therefore reduce the number of jobs available to contact centre agents.
“In a contact centre setting, the idea of AI aims to empower agents with a combination of real-time analytics and automation, which in turn allows agents to deliver a personalised customer service experience efficiently and productively, Ravi explains.
“Agents should focus their time to converse with customers empathetically and efficiently even from remote locations.”
Redressing balance between going online and personal engagement
The co-founder referred to a PwC research which indicated that 59 percent of global consumers surveyed felt companies had lost touch with the human element of customer experience.
“This only shows that people still want to speak with a human agent. We at Uniphore also conducted a research which revealed people are frustrated by long hold times and the inability of brands to address their needs,” he tells Business Today. It is an indication that human touch to conversations is most effective when it comes to empathising with a person at the other end of a conversation.
A CSA platform allows agents to focus on the call while the history, data and details on products or/and services requested are fed to the agent in real time, thus allowing them to truly listen to the customer,” Ravi says.
Additionally, Ravi maintains that today’s tech-savvy customers expect a consistent experience across mediums. They expect brands to provide a smooth experience while also understanding the context based on their previous interactions. A powerful conversational AI solution blends the capabilities of human, artificial intelligence, digital agents, and automation to perfectly understand conversations and customer intent. This enables brands to ace omnichannel support in a customer service journey.
The rise of conversational AI
While organisations across industries face a surge in customer queries, Ravi believes that the fulfilment of instant demand and gratification by consumers has become a key differentiator for businesses today.
“These customers prefer live interactions to get resolutions for their urgent and complex issues,” Ravi opines. AI-driven contact centre solutions are right now filling the need for a range of different business types and sizes and, in doing so, are carving out a new breed of customer service experience for a digitised, on-demand age.
This presents a strategic growth opportunity for organisations and contact centres, Ravi stresses, adding that these trends are testing and stretching every industry’s standard for high customer service and experience.
“Continually improving customer experience and lowering operational costs has always been important for contact centre leaders and the current crisis brings that to the forefront,” he concludes.
The pandemic will act as a catalyst for contact centres to adapt not only to the current conditions but support this trend moving forward.