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Nov '16

Artificial Intelligence Chat Is Evolving Faster Than IVR

                                                         

Although it doesn’t feel like all that long ago, way back in the 90s one of the most important factors to a call center’s success was the ability to route a customer to the right support agent with the IVR (Interactive Voice Response). Countless hours were spent identifying the most efficient call routing patterns and expert agent capabilities to ensure that your request reached the right person quickly. This technology is still widely used today and there are still teams in the largest companies programming IVR systems to accomplish pretty much the same goal.

As the standard for customer support evolved there have been many attempts to improve the function and the customer experience associated with IVRs to reduce hold times and provide more relevant support faster. Even today some companies will use their IVR system as a way to keep a customer on hold, rather than provide a solution, when agents are inundated with calls.

For those of us who’ve worked in the voice industry for some time, we’ve seen first-hand the attempts to accomplish a customer’s need before reaching an agent. First there was expert agent routing that delivered your call to the agent most qualified to help you. Then came advances in voice recognition, which today has evolved to be a very effective tool to increase containment rates and deflect calls from reaching a live agent. My two favorite examples of the power of voice recognition are Cox Communications and Capital One, two examples of great voice recognition and routing.

Our memory, however, is short. It wasn’t so long ago that we were all pulling our hair out punching digits into the phone or constantly repeating “agent”, “Agent”, “AGENT”, AGENT!!!!!”.

Whether it was a limit of computational power or the sheer cost of developing and implementing advanced call center technology, it took decades for phone systems to be able to front end the customer support process as efficiently as they do today. Thankfully we all survived to see it without boiling over from the hypertension usually associated with calling with a customer service department.

Bad customer experience is definitely not the case with Chat Artificial Intelligence (Chat AI). While we seem to hear about the shortcomings of Chat AI like the disconnected conversations and the robotic like responses, these experiences are usually the product of Chatbots with limited AI functionality or early stage deployments. The increases in both computational power and the massive advancements in machine learning are driving excellent customer experiences that improve over time.

When was the last time you heard of technology actually performing better, on its own, without a ton of additional development work or continuous updates? Well, that’s the case with Artificial Intelligence. Like a person, the more experience it has interacting with customers and information, the better it performs with little need to be manually improved or fine-tuned.

Today, AI Chat can be used to answer a large majority of customer requests and because Artificial Intelligence learns as it is used, customers prefer to interact through AI chat to avoid all of the frustrations commonly associated with calling a contact center agent.