Philipp Heltewig, a visionary leader in conversational AI experiences, is the CEO and co-founder of Cognigy.
The voicebot revolution is in full swing and voice AI for customer service is taking off. Voice has already woven into the fabric of our personal lives, pressuring companies to step up their game.
The extreme demands placed on contact center and customer service teams during the pandemic accelerated emerging speech-based AI solutions into prime time, and companies are not looking back. Waiting on hold, wading through phone trees, and having to repeat information—sometimes private information—are aspects that customer service organizations seek to transform.
Customer Experience (CX) will be the big winner of today’s speech technology. The faster and more completely customer needs are resolved, the more positive the experience. Conversational AI is the bridging innovation to make it easy for customers and businesses to communicate.
Start a conversation, not a transaction.
“How can I help you?” There’s something about to belong the words that give them a certain weight, be it a live agent or a virtual one.
As a consumer, it has become second nature to control and interact with Alexa or Siri — to set a reminder, look up a fact, take a selfie, or leave a text. Why not expect that same ability from companies during customer assistance experiences?
With automation-first service, your call will be answered immediately. Second, there is no phone tree, you speak in simple language about what you need. Third, the virtual agent can actually help you with the information you are looking for. Fourth, the virtual agent knows its limits and is able to relay the call to a human agent. Fifth, you don’t have to repeat anything. Sixth, no long waits.
That’s the power of voice-activated conversational AI.
Delivering a great voice experience wherever the customer is.
Contacting customer service is often immediately stressful – from applying for a mortgage to traveling – and they want to be helped as quickly and easily as possible.
Talking is instinctive and it is usually the easiest way to do something. In addition, for those who are physically unable to type and text, speaking is the hands-free alternative.
Voice AI offers contact centers and customers the best of both worlds: a natural, hands-free and multilingual verbal interface, plus the speed and 24/7 convenience of a smart virtual agent.
Lufthansa Group is a shining example of a company that has withstood high customer expectations, daily changing regulations and high cost pressures during Covid-19. By consolidating its customer service capabilities into a single AI-powered customer automation platform, its business units were able to take control with minimal IT support to build multilingual voicebots and chatbots to support their customers. Ten thousand customers a day and more than 1 million calls a year rely on Lufthansa’s virtual agents to get it right.
The power of agents and AI working together.
AI-powered virtual agents are designed to engage with customers. Add to that speech technologies and sentiment analysis learning and you have virtual voice agents trained to pick up on customers’ inflections, intensity and tone and adjust the conversation accordingly or proactively transfer the conversation to their human partner if necessary.
But automation can only take us this far. While AI makes for better experiences, people are key to delivering a complete end-to-end CX. When people and AI work together, customers and businesses will win.
For this reason, the next wave of AI solutions focuses on empowering agents. Automating common requests using virtual AI agents to minimize repetitive work for agents is the first step. Let’s take this to the next level. For more complex questions, when the virtual agent hands over the conversation, AI helps the agent find the answer, provides an immediate response, and proactively suggests or “coaches” the agent on how else to help. This symbiotic relationship gives agents the confidence to accurately handle requests in record time.
For example, an electric utility E.ON masterfully manages a portfolio of more than 30 voicebots and chatbots and serves customers and employees through more than 100,000 calls per month. The ability to serve customers 24/7 wherever they are has greatly reduced the workload at service centers and reduced operational costs, while providing better service. E.ON Group won CogX Best Innovation Award 2022 in the Consumer Chatbot category for their chatbot, Robin, which allows customers to talk to a virtual agent or a live agent, improving the customer experience.
Rethink the customer experience.
Smart devices with AI are all around us and voice technology is already embedded in everyday life, from asking Alexa/Siri/Google Assistant for today’s weather forecast to remotely turning on smart ovens, lights and speakers at home. Speech technologies have matured considerably. It is time for enterprises to take advantage of these developments and bring more accurate and human conversations to customer service.
Business leaders are rethinking customer service, starting in the contact center where innovation has been slow, seeking voice solutions that can scale and grow with the business, provide accurate conversational understanding, and consolidate multiple platforms.
At the center of our CX transformation journeys, conversational AI is a means to bridge the boundaries of automation and the gaps in workforce management. Now is the time to explore how speech-based conversational AI is turning the script for the future of customer experience.