Applications that Improve the Customer Journey
Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology coupled with consumer preference for digital channels, is driving interest in and adoption of intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) and a related technology, robotic process automation (RPA). Voice biometrics is another high-tech solution that is going mainstream; a leading bank’s recent ad campaign publicizes that they know customers “by the sound of their voice.” Organizations are starting to leverage these sophisticated technologies to re-engineer service experiences that combine the best of self-service with live agent support, a winning experience for enterprises, who have a fiduciary responsibility to reduce operating costs, while also providing an highly effective personalized customer experience.
DMG defines IVAs as:
specialized technology that utilizes artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced speech technologies, and free dialogue understanding to simulate live cognitive assistance for voice, text or digital interactions via a digital persona. IVAs are self-learning; their ’intelligence; is continually evolving based on data inputs from each new interaction. The acquired knowledge is assimilated and leveraged in future interactions.
In essence, IVAs use science to elevate the art of self-service. IVAs are catching on in a variety of verticals where they serve as personal shoppers, ensure compliance with healthcare protocols, book reservations or schedule appointments, assist with financial or investment decisions, determine how to more efficiently manage utility expenses, and more. For agent-assisted interactions, they pull information from knowledge bases, customer profiles and other online sources that agents need to optimize each interaction. In the enterprise, IVAs are being leveraged to assist with benefits and compensation administration and other HR issues.
Contact centers are inherently complex environments, and agents routinely have to enter the same information in two or more systems, e.g., the transaction processing system and the CRM solution. This is where robotic process automation comes in. Attended RPA is being used to automate cutting-and-pasting tasks and for populating the same data in more than one solution. This greatly speeds up the processing time for customers/prospects and reduces errors. Attended RPA can also be used to create a composite servicing screen to reduce the number of systems and screens agents need to access in order to resolve inquiries. And unattended RPA can fully automate some end-to-end contact center processes, with little or no human involvement.
Voice biometrics is another solution whose time may finally have come, as adoption of these solutions by contact centers is on the rise. (Adoption of biometrics in general is increasing.) The primary use for voice biometrics in the contact center is to automate speaker authentication; once a voiceprint is obtained it eliminates the need to answer security questions, which may, ironically, contain the same information they are trying to protect. Security concerns, regulatory requirements and the pressure to reduce operating costs and improve the customer experience, along with improvements in technology and much faster servers, are paving the way for companies to adopt voice biometrics for customer identification, verification and e-signatures. The figure below provides a synopsis of how these solutions work and are being used to deliver customer and enterprise benefits.
|Technology||How it Works||Contact Center Application||Customer Benefit||Enterprise Benefit|
|Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs)||Utilizes AI, machine learning, advanced speech technologies (including natural language understanding/natural language processing/natural language generation (NLU/NLP/NLG) to simulate live and unstructured cognitive conversations for voice, text and digital interactions via a digital persona||Omni-channel self-service||Enhanced self-service
Reduced customer effort
Lower cost of service
Increased use of self-service solutions
|Robotic process automation (RPA)||Leverages AI, machine learning, workflow and other technologies to emulate the processes performed by human workers, and can be trained to adapt to changing conditions, anomalies and new situations||Automating processing of repetitive tasks
Data propagation across multiple applications
Initiating actions and communicating with other systems or employees
Agent/employee assistance (attended automation)
Reduced processing time
Lower cost of service
|Voice biometrics||Compares the unique voice characteristics of a live audio stream to an enrolled voiceprint to authenticate the speaker||Fraud and risk mitigation
Primary component of multi-factor authentication
Legally binding digital e-Signature
|Accurate and non-intrusive authentication method
Enhanced data protection
Expedited digital transactions
|Reduced risk and exposure
IVAs, RPA and voice biometrics enhance the customer experience, improve productivity and reduce the cost of service. They simplify how customers interact with companies in many channels, including phone, interactive voice response (IVR), websites, smartphone apps and other digital channels, to facilitate a consistent and personalized omni-channel customer journey. When planning for the near-term, all companies should carefully evaluate these solutions, as they achieve the primary goal of helping companies deliver an outstanding customer experience cost effectively.
DMG Consulting LLC is a leading independent research, advisory and consulting firm specializing in unified communications, contact centers, back-office and real-time analytics. Learn more at www.dmgconsult.com.