Although there are genuine concerns about the newest industrial revolution, such as people losing their jobs due to the automation, employing humans alongside complementary artificial intelligence to aid them is highly advantageous – both from a financial and customer-centric point of view.
Translated to the world of telephony and contact centers, employees will not be forced to sit next to the phone 24/7, waiting for calls beyond peak hours (typically during the night), doing nothing or engaging in very mundane tasks since an AI or a ‘chatbot’ will do the ‘dirty’ job, further increasing performance and customer satisfaction.
2010s: The Chatbot Revolution
Before you start sharpening your pitchfork for fear of losing your job, let us tell you that you are already too late: chatbots have been with us for a while now. Every time you use SMS banking, receive a reminder of an appointment or get a message that your package has arrived, you are not being notified by a trained employee but a chatbot.
Now thanks to the latest advancements in AI, the one weakness of chatbots is being eliminated: the issue of not being able to directly communicate with them. Chatbots are now capable of learning certain speech patterns commonly used by customers including recognizing certain words meaning that no matter how you phrase yourself, the moment the necessary trigger words are said a chatbot could recognize it and react accordingly, such as telling you your bank balance or creating a reminder for an invoice.
Hi, You Have Reached Chatbot!
Let’s translate all of the above to the world of contact centers, since it is only a matter of time before chatbots become part of cloud phone systems and their associated services. In fact, RingCentral already supports chatbots, so perhaps the moment has already arrived. Granted, when you place a call to a contact center, chances are that you will hear a pre-programmed virtual assistant who will direct you to the right extension either by key command or via the dial-by-name feature. However, as chatbots are not advanced enough to handle more complex issues that demand human intervention, chances are that you will interact with them via live chats, SMS messages, social media and emails. And like in the case of trainees and freshly employed co-workers, there is a certain period of time when the chatbot is just a plain observer who memorizes past interactions between customers and the staff.
The biggest difference is that the chatbot builds its memory from everywhere; whether it’s the company’s FAQ, knowledge bases or emails exchanged between customers and the staff, the chatbot has a continuously growing source for nonstop learning. In other words, every time a staff member closes out an interaction with a customer or the IT department updates something on the company’s website, the AI fine-tunes itself so it can give proper answers when human assistance is not available for any reason. To make things even better, these self-taught chatbots can significantly reduce the on-hold time: even if all employees are occupied or out of office, they can thoroughly answer the customer’s question in a fast and courteous manner.
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