Applications that Improve the Customer Journey
By Deborah Navara and Jana Benetti
Recent advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technology, coupled with consumer preference for digital channels, are driving interest in and adoption of intelligent virtual agents (IVAs) and a related technology, robotic process automation (RPA). Voice biometrics is another high-tech solution that is going mainstream. A leading bank’s recent ad campaign publicizes that they know customers “by the sound of their voice.”
Organizations are starting to leverage these sophisticated technologies to re-engineer service experiences that combine the best of self-service with live agent support, a winning experience for enterprises, who have a fiduciary responsibility to reduce operating costs while also providing a highly effective personalized customer experience.
DMG defines IVAs as “specialized technology that utilizes artificial intelligence, machine learning, advanced speech technologies, and free dialogue understanding to simulate live cognitive assistance for voice, text, or digital interactions via a digital persona. IVAs are self-learning. Their intelligence is continually evolving based on data inputs from each new interaction. The acquired knowledge is assimilated and leveraged in future interactions.”
In essence, IVAs use science to elevate the art of self-service. IVAs are catching on in a variety of verticals, where they serve as personal shoppers, ensure compliance with healthcare protocols, book reservations, schedule appointments, assist with financial or investment decisions, and determine how to manage utility expenses more efficiently.
For agent-assisted interactions, IVAs pull information from knowledge bases, customer profiles, and other online sources that agents need to optimize each interaction. In the enterprise, they are being leveraged to assist with benefits, compensation administration, and other HR issues.
Contact centers are inherently complex environments, and agents routinely must enter the same information into two or more systems, such as a transaction processing system and a CRM solution. This is where robotic process automation comes in. Attended RPA is being used to automate cut-and-paste tasks and for populating the same data in more than one solution.
This greatly speeds up the processing time for customers and prospects, while reducing errors. Attended RPA can also be used to create a composite servicing screen to reduce the number of systems and screens agents need to access to resolve inquiries. And unattended RPA can fully automate some end-to-end contact center processes, with little or no human involvement.
Voice biometrics is another solution whose time may finally have come, as adoption of these solutions by contact centers is on the rise. (Adoption of biometrics in general is increasing.) The primary use for voice biometrics in the contact center is to automate speaker authentication. Once a voiceprint is obtained, it eliminates the need to answer security questions, which may, ironically, contain the same information they are trying to protect.
Security concerns, regulatory requirements, and the pressure to reduce operating costs and improve the customer experience, along with improvements in technology and much faster servers, are paving the way for companies to adopt voice biometrics for customer identification, verification, and e-signatures. The following chart provides a synopsis of how these solutions work and are being used to deliver customer and enterprise benefits.
|Technology||How it Works||Contact Center Application||Customer Benefit||Enterprise Benefit|
|Intelligent virtual agents (IVAs)||Utilizes AI, machine learning, advanced speech technologies, including natural language understanding, natural language processing, and natural language generation (NLU/NLP/NLG) to simulate live and unstructured cognitive conversations for voice, text, and digital interactions via a digital persona||Omni-channel self-service||Enhanced self-service; reduced customer effort||Improved productivity;
lower cost of service; increased use of self-service solutions; enhanced CX
|Robotic process automation (RPA)||Leverages AI, machine learning, workflow, and other technologies to emulate the processes performed by human workers; can be trained to adapt to changing conditions, anomalies, and new situations||Automating processing of repetitive tasks;
automating cut-and-paste; data propagation across multiple applications; initiating actions and communicating with other systems or employees; agent/employee assistance (attended automation)
|Reduced errors; reduced processing time||Improved productivity; lower cost of service; improved accuracy|
|Voice biometrics||Compares the unique voice characteristics of a live audio stream to an enrolled voiceprint to authenticate the speaker||Fraud and risk mitigation; automating verification; primary component of multifactor authentication; authorizing transactions; legally binding digital e-signature||Accurate and nonintrusive authentication method; enhanced data protection; expedited digital transactions||Reduced risk and exposure; decreased fraud; enhanced CX|
IVAs, RPA, and voice biometrics enhance the customer experience, improve productivity, and reduce the cost of service. They simplify how customers interact with companies in many channels, including phone, interactive voice response (IVR), websites, and smartphone apps to facilitate a consistent and personalized omni-channel customer journey. When planning for the near-term, all companies should carefully evaluate these solutions, as they achieve the primary goal of helping companies deliver an outstanding customer experience cost effectively.
Deborah Navara and Jana Benetti are with DMG Consulting LLC, which helps emerging and established companies develop and deliver outstanding customer experiences.