Deploying a voicebot: are you ready yet?

by | Artificial intelligence

Voicebots are increasingly being deployed by government agencies and companies. This is only logical, because they can communicate with your customer 24/7, and when you combine them with human support, you get the best of both worlds. Of course, this does not mean that the chatbot you may have already invested a lot of time and money in, is outdated. On the contrary, it can reinforce each other.

In this article, I’ll tell you how we got into the era of (voice)bots, what the difference is between a voicebot and a chatbot and how you can ultimately benefit from it as a company.

 

Voicebot vs. chatbot

If you are a company that chooses to support your customer service with a bot, then a chatbot and/or a voicebot is the most obvious choice. Both have the same goal: to provide a consistent, personalized customer experience, while maintaining the quality of information delivery. Simple and non-empathic tasks can be handled by bots.

Customer requests that require empathy or specialized knowledge are better handled by your employees.
They also have more time for this; all repetitive tasks are taken care of by the bot. You should actually see a bot as an extension of your customer contact staff or as an internal digital assistant to them.

But what does a voicebot offer in addition to a chatbot?
Chatbots with AI-technology use the same design and logic as bots with voice, but the interfaces and interactions are different. A chatbot is used for online chat communication – mainly through text – and automates messages with people through messaging platforms. The software of a chatbot is based on text or rich media such as buttons or pictures. In doing so, a chatbot can be integrated into messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.

The interface and interaction with voicebots is different from chatbots. A voicebot is an AI-bot that uses speech recognition to identify user commands and also responds by voice. You then don’t let your customer chat, but call your company. Just not (directly) with a live person.

DE CIJFERS

%

of IT leaders believe voice technology helps customers save time.

devices with voice assistants will be available in 2024. That will exceed the global population.

%

of people with a smart speaker say that the speaker is part of their routine.

Bron: Capgemini – Smart Talk – Converstional Interfaces 2019

The creation of the voicebot: in the past, present and future

In the past: repeating hold music on the phone

For years, call centers were the first point of entry for customers. This allowed customers to get in touch with an organization directly. This was (and still is) accompanied by long waiting times. Customers got tired of hearing the same music over and over again and quit before they even spoke to someone at the customer service desk. This had to change.

Present: Interactive voice response

In an effort to better understand and assist the customer, and direct them to the appropriate customer service department, interactive voice response (IVR) was born. Think of the telephone menus that you, as a customer, are guided through and where you have to dial a specific number in order to be connected to the right department. Today this is still widely used, but in my opinion it is not customer friendly. Interactive voice response is predefined and if your question is not configured within the menu, you end up in the busy telephone queue of “other questions”. This too needs to change.

Present and the future: artificial intelligence

Gartner, a leading information technology research and consulting firm, has been predicting for many years that AI is “the next big thing.” And they are right. AI is getting better and better and is essential for the development of bot and speech technology. AI is outgrowing its early stages, but has potential to revolutionize the way we interact with computers and associated digital processes. AI is capable of analyzing millions of conversations that run through voice and chatbots and making them work better and better.
Voice assistants such as Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa were just the beginning and are becoming more and more embedded in our daily lives. Speech technology is also becoming more common, with Amazon’s Echo and Google Home devices becoming very popular. Another example is to call someone or select music in the car . The automotive industry is embracing voice technology to increase safety while driving by eliminating or minimizing a “touch” interface.

With today’s voicebot, you can create your own brand voice through a synthetic voice.

What opportunities does the voicebot offer now?

With voicebots comes a new era where customers can have a natural conversation with a computer. Voicebots are used in hands-free devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. But also in customer service applications used by call centers to automate, for example, the giving of answers to repetitive questions. Voicebots use AI algorithms to convert spoken words into text (speech to text). They then interpret the user’s intent and respond accordingly.

Today’s voicebots can update your personal information, change your phone plan, provide insight into an energy bill, book a hotel room or schedule an appointment. They are becoming more sophisticated and are starting to appear in more and more applications. And as AI continues to improve, it’s impossible to say what else it’s capable of.

Voicebot | Dialog Group

Voicebots for customercontact

With voicebots comes a new era where customers can have a natural conversation with a computer. Voicebots are used in hands-free devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Home. But also in customer service applications used by call centers to automate, for example, the giving of answers to repetitive questions. Voicebots use AI algorithms to convert spoken words into text (speech to text). They then interpret the user’s intent and respond accordingly.

Today’s voicebots can update your personal information, change your phone plan, provide insight into an energy bill, book a hotel room or schedule an appointment. They are becoming more sophisticated and are starting to appear in more and more applications. And as AI continues to improve, it’s impossible to say what else it’s capable of.

Voicebots can offer your customers a quick and convenient way to get the information they need, or complete a task, without having to wait for a human agent. As voice recognition technology continues to improve, the voicebot will only become more popular and sound more natural. Today, it is even possible to create a branded voice through a synthetic voice. Synthetic voices can be created using recording scripts with a selected voice actor.

As you can see, all these evolutions mean that companies that want to stay ahead need to invest in voicebot technology now. A voicebot can easily be linked to software, such as back office systems or customer data systems. Furthermore, a voicebot can contribute to barrier-free documents. Someone with a disability may be able to interact with an organization more easily through his or her voice.

Deploy voicebots wisely, not recklessly

Please don’t automate everything and use a voicebot with care. Be conscious in which processes you deploy them, in which automation. Empathy towards your customer is and remains crucial for a good customer experience. And in some cases it is not wise to force your customer to use bots. For example, suppose you are an insurance company and the claim process for a household insurance policy is automated. When a customer calls you and ends up with a voicebot, the bot must be intelligent and trained to detect the emotional impact of a claim. Claiming for a broken window can be handled automatically, but in the case of a major flood, the bot must immediately connect the customer with a human agent because of the high emotional impact and associated complex handling.

A real-life example

I’ll show you an example taken from the energy sector, provided by our technology partner Sinch.

In this scenario, a customer wants to:

  • Defer payment of his latest bill.
  • Authenticate and confirm changes via SMS.
  • Gain insight into his higher electricity consumption.
  • Change his address via an automatic connection via WhatsApp.
  • Using the Spanish language in the middle of a conversation.
  • The customer uses natural language to set a date by saying ‘tomorrow’.

Three conclusions

Provide a healthy dose of empathy

Customers wish to communicate and interact with companies as easily as possible. “Zero effort” is increasingly becoming the norm because time is precious. Customers use more and more applications or come into contact with companies that already offer this as standard. Therefore, fast, good service is seen as a basic need, and becoming less and less a distinguishing feature. Companies that invest in this and know how to apply the right empathy will lose fewer customers.

A channel with perhaps the shortest response time

Customers are always looking for channels with the shortest response time. Responses via voicebots are fast, so they save a lot of time. They also don’t require much coaching compared to humans, which reduces the time between setup and productivity in most companies. Bots are easy to scale up and can serve hundreds of customers at once.

A new phase of digital customer interactions

This means we are entering a brand new phase. What we are going to witness in the next 10 years, according to trend watcher and CX specialist Steven Van Belleghem, is an evolution from effortless interfaces to enhanced interfaces.

At Dialog Group, we have developed a winning contact strategy where asynchronous communication combined with (voice) bots plays a major role in all phases of this strategy. Our mission is to make digital interaction with your customers easy. Therefore, we see digital self-service as a crucial tool for customer engagement. As digital self-service becomes more and more popular, voicebots are becoming an increasingly important tool for companies.

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