Nov

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. 

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The Automation Is Coming

                                                         

A close look at the history of humanity leaves us with no choice but to admit that the majority of jobs as we know them now will be transferred to automated systems. This is part of the technological and scientific progress our civilization is undertaking and it is irreversible.

Artificial intelligence became mainstream in 2016. For the first time artificial intelligence is not only available to big companies like Google, Amazon or Apple, but to the majority of businesses worldwide.  Startups have started building products and services using artificial intelligence en masse.

The essence of artificial intelligence is massive, intuitive computing power: machines so smart that they can learn and become even smarter.  The machines are becoming quicker and more nimble. They cover wider range of conversation topics. They now connect to robotic systems and online interactive systems. There is literally very little they cannot, or will not be able to, do as applied to industrial workforce.

With all the good that’s going to come with automation, we are suddenly faced with a new problem: the elimination of many low and middle class jobs. Many jobs that have already been severely impacted by computers (manufacturing, administrative support, retail, and transportation) will continue to diminish. In the nearest future routine-based jobs (telemarketing, sewing) and work that can be solved by smart algorithms (tax preparation, data entry keyers and insurance underwriters) are most likely to be eliminated.

What to do? It is fruitless to fight automation, we need to find ways to work with automation rather than against it.

The solution is to become more creative as species. Creativity is the natural advantage of humans over machines. Automation is about to change the course of the world, it’s going to be a great disruptor and impact the workforce like nothing we’ve seen before. We can sit around and gradually become obsolete, or accept the challenge and use the tool of creativity, which we are in unique possession of, to maintain our superiority.

 

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WHAT IS AI TRAINING



AI training is a critical part of conversational AI solutions, a part that makes AI software different from any kind of software previously created.
AI training is not coding.
Unlike all other existing software which is fully coded.

Let us consider a simple example:
We create chatbots for two companies, one company is selling shoes, another is selling cars. From the software standpoint it is one chatbot solution running as an online service accessed remotely or a program available locally. In both cases they are two identical instances of the same software (one instance for the shoes company, another for the cars company).
Yet, for the first company the chatbot is supposed to talk about flip-flops, summer shoes, high heels and so on. For the second company, however, the chatbot is not expected to know any of that. Instead, the chatbot should be able to support conversations about car brands, car models, should know how to tell Toyota Camry from Toyota Corolla, etc. This shoes and cars knowledge is not programmable. It is trainable. It is not coded, instead it is a part of language processing capability that AI solutions like chatbots have. And herein lies the major differentiation and advantage of the AI solutions compared to traditional software.

How to train AI?
There are several ways to do it. Sometimes AI system can train itself, improve its linguistic ability over time. It also can be trained by professional linguists. And in some cases, by the users. The latter is the desirable scenario because businesses know better than anybody else what they want their chatbot to talk about.
It is not easy, given the existing state of AI technology, and usually requires a high level of technical knowledge. You may have heard mentions of intents and entities in chatbot discussions. These are examples of linguistic elements AI training is currently based on.
Without proper understanding of what these linguistic elements are and how language acquisition process works in existing AI systems it is better to leave AI training to professional linguists.

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