While voice recognition systems in customer service aren’t new, generative artificial intelligence (AI) is changing the nature and quality of how consumers interact with brands, bringing customer service to its next horizon with the ability to detect emotion, offer advice, complete entire transactions, and otherwise stop people from repeatedly yelling “representative” into their phones.
It’s part of the ongoing journey of phone-based customer service, which went from early uses of voice attendants that understood yes and no answers to the fast and furious developments that are taking place in the eight months since OpenAI introduced its world-changing ChatGPT chatbot, which had attained over 100 million users by January 2023.
On Monday (June 12), Salesforce announced its new AI Cloud and underlying Einstien GPT tool, noting in a press release that the solution “will enable sales reps to quickly auto-generate personalized emails tailored to their customer’s needs, and service teams to auto-generate personalized agent chat replies and case summaries. Marketers can auto-generate personalized content to engage customers and prospects across email, mobile, web, and advertising. Commerce teams can auto-generate insights and recommendations to deliver customized commerce experiences at every step of the buyer’s journey.”
In what’s become an almost daily news drop on companies switching to AI-powered customer service and workflow tools, digital workflow platform ServiceNow announced on Tuesday (June 13) its Now Assist for Virtual Agent, being piloted ahead of a wider September 2023 rollout.
ServiceNow Chairman and CEO Bill McDermott said, “We’re building generative AI into our platform so customers can maximize their ROI: ‘return on intelligence.’ This is all about thoughtful, high-trust co-innovation as we find the balance between machine speed and human judgment.”
Trust and signs of actual “intelligence” are issues that advanced voice AIs are having to overcome, but many consumers believe that these systems will make the grade sooner rather than later.
According to PYMNTS’ April study “How Consumers Want to Live In the Voice Economy,” 61% of U.S. consumers say that voice assistants will become as smart and reliable as human assistants, with 46% of respondents saying it will happen within five years. “Millennials are the most optimistic, with 57% saying voice technology will be as smart and reliable as real people in less than five years, and 11% believe this technology is already there. Baby boomers and seniors are more skeptical, with 18% thinking it will never get there,” per the research.
Given that generative AI is trained using Large Language Models (LLMs) and “learns” from mistakes, the timeline could be shorter than many believe today as more conversational AI gets deployed in the customer service arena, theoretically making systems smarter more quickly.
As CMSWire reported in May, “Unlike rules-based chatbots, generative and conversational AI are able to generate their own responses, which leads to more flexible and dynamic conversations. They also have a strong grasp of context and remember past interactions so they are able to use that information to provide relevant responses. These AI models also excel in handling queries that are uncertain. If a user’s request isn’t clear, the AI can ask follow-up questions to clarify, much like a human would. This ability greatly enhances the user’s experience and ensures more effective communication.”
Businesses are buying into this evolution in contact center technology at an accelerated pace. In early June, digital voice assistant developer Assist You which specializes in contact center and customer service use cases partnered with Ireland-based VoIP and SIP trunking services firm DIDWW to offer more advanced AI tools for contact centers.
In a press release, DIDWW said, “By employing the potential of voice technology, AssistYou helps businesses to reduce customer service workload, increase availability, and elevate overall customer satisfaction. Additionally, AssistYou Analytics tool enables organizations to analyze and enrich every phone call in real-time, generating valuable insights to optimize customer service and operational processes.”