Leadership Conversation / 26.09.2019

Conversational Service Automation: The Future of Customer Service

Just recently, we launched Uniphore’s new brand centered on the theme of “Our Voice”. As a Conversational Service Automation company transforming the customer service industry, we believe the future of customer service is every voice being truly heard. Our vision is to bridge the gap between people and machines through voice and AI.

So just what is Conversational Service Automation-and what does it really do?

Before I answer, let me first share some context on the forces shaping the industry. Customers today are empowered with choice. They are distracted, time poor, brand promiscuous, and instant gratification is their modus operandi. Every time they choose to engage with your company, taking time away from higher priorities, they challenge you to deliver value for every second spent. Customer expectations for a frictionless and memorable customer experience have been increasing for years and have now reached a tipping point.

U.S. companies lose $75 billion a year due to poor customer experiences, a $13 billion increase from 2016 (Source: NewVoiceMedia). Most of these poor customer experiences are very treatable problems, more so today due to recent advances in AI. AI technologies now make it possible to drive customer engagement and deliver superior customer experience at scale and efficiency.

Customer service is the foundation and critical driver of customer experience. But it’s broken. Increasingly the use of AI is becoming more prevalent in the customer service industry. However, enterprises are struggling to take advantage of these developments. Enterprises have experimented with some combination of process automation, chatbots, email, analytics and biometric security to drive efficiency and provide new avenues of conversation and engagement. But quick-fix customer experience solutions that deliver a disparate, impersonal brand experience only leaves an unsatisfied customer looking for alternatives. The $350 billion customer service industry is indeed ripe for transformation.

Customer service callers today are frustrated that broken automated systems, and poorly equipped agents don’t hear them. To fix it, enterprises must move away from a siloed experience, and approach service holistically, blending the capabilities of people, AI and automation to better understand conversations and their customer’s voice in real-time.

The future of customer service is Conversational Service Automation

Conversational Service Automation is an emerging category of solutions that leverages the power of AI to help enterprises deliver transformational customer service experiences. It achieves that through an intelligent combination in real time of various overlapping categories – conversational analytics, data analytics, voice bots, IVR systems, security, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and customer feedback history – to drive both automated human to machine conversations, as well as personalized conversations between customers and contact center agents.

Why ‘Conversational’

Customer interactions are ‘conversational’ whether it is through your website, chat, voice, IVR, social or connected devices. And conversations are complex, particularly when your customers are engaging with your company across such diverse channels. There is a short window to deliver personalized customer service. Being equipped with an understanding of context, sentiment, behavior and real intent, and being able to act on such insights in real-time becomes even more crucial.

Let’s consider what happens during a typical customer service conversation. It could be with a human, a chatbot, a website, mobile app or with a wider social media universe. The conversation content could be a complaint, a service request, and be related to travel, healthcare or a banking scenario.

You need a solution that intervenes in real-time when normally a human would say “let me put you on hold while I check that.” When a bot says it will send you a follow-up email or call you back, intelligent automated digital agents should be able to resolve the issue in real-time, with the capability to seamlessly handover to a human. The underlying AI and Analytics layer should help you understand your customer better, improve the quality of conversations, offer the best service or next best product, and deliver better personalization.

Why ‘Automation’

There is a huge gap between the automation solutions provided by contact center infrastructure providers and RPA providers who are focused on back office automation. The time has come to bridge this gap by an end to end intelligent automation platform focused on contact center needs which also connects the dots between front office and back office and makes it a seamless process of information flow. The solution should enable real time listening of conversations across channels and then convert them into automated real time actions using an AI enabled intelligent platform that is continuously self-learning. This helps reduce work pressure on call center agents, improve accuracy of information dispensed, provide data points for real-time decision making to call center managers and more importantly reduce customer stress and effort in dealing with brands.

Conversational Service Automation is about enabling front office automation in contact centers. Consider this scenario. A customer starts a conversation with a chatbot or a voice bot for quick self-service. The bot is able to provide some quick and valuable updates. The voice bot accesses data on the customer’s previous interactions, collects customer inputs via an easy voice interface and completes the transaction. If the conversation gets more complex, the voice bot politely hands the call to a human agent via a live transfer. The agent is assisted through real-time analytics and chat transcripts. The human agent again assisted by behavioral coaching is able to make an attractive next best offer which the customer gladly accepts. The analytics layer then identifies an RPA bot to process the order immediately and the agent informs the customer in real-time that the order has been processed. The underlying platform automates After-Call-Work (ACW), creates a call summary, captures customer sentiment as positive, and updates the call summary and call disposition to the backend CRM system.

It is automation backed by real time analytics that enables enterprises to expediently deliver personalized and seamless customer service experience. 

Why ‘Service’

Isn’t customer service all about providing a service. Conversational Service Automation is about automating customer service, automating the service experience, and automating mundane tasks to enable agents deliver the service experience. This is about service automation not process automation. 

In summary

Conversational Service Automation is on track to disrupt the $350 billion contact center industry globally. It leverages the power of AI, in real-time, at the right time, and using the right channel, to deliver the best customer experience. With Conversational Service Automation, companies can simultaneously achieve cost efficiencies while delivering step improvement in customer service.

In the Customer Experience (CX) space, AI powered category of solutions such as Conversational Service Automation could disrupt traditional jobs but could potentially create 2 million new ‘knowledge workers’. Conversational Service Automation will create new market leaders in CX while disrupting the traditional BPO companies as well as legacy contact center infrastructure and WFO players. The future just got even more interesting.

By: Umesh Sachdev – Co-founder and CEO