Listen Up: Intelligent Voice Assistants are a Business Differentiator

3 minute read

Customers still rely on voice-based support, and Conversational AI is a critical element for providing extraordinary experiences at scale.

Although we rely on chat and text to complete many daily tasks, there are still several cases for which phone calls are our preferred channel. We may text our friends to make plans and share photos, but when it comes to more complex conversations, such as seeking clarification or working through conflict, we are more inclined to pick up the phone to hear another’s voice.

Voice is just as critical in business, even with the rise in digital channels for commerce. This fact was made abundantly clear when the global COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, and call center volume across all industries skyrocketed. To manage the growing demand, many companies relied on IVR systems and voice-based chatbots. However, they soon realized the limitations of these solutions, as it became evident that customers’ questions and concerns were far more complex and much deeper than simple FAQs.

Even as the world emerges from the pandemic, calls and voice-based interactions continue to be a preferred channel for many consumers. According to McKinsey, voice conversations contribute to “the majority of all incoming volume” for companies across all industries, and it predicts that phone calls are here to stay. Given this prediction, companies will need to ensure their long-term customer care strategy is equipped with the right tools to deliver high quality voice-based service at scale, along with investments in other digital channels.

Why the AI Brain Behind the Voice Matters

Basic voice assistants are sufficient for personal use because the tasks they are asked to execute, such as sending emails, providing real-time weather updates or turning off lights, require minimal cognitive and emotional intelligence (or EQ). However, these limitations are what make them unsuitable for use within professional settings. For voice AI to take off at the enterprise level, the brain behind the voice needs to be capable of handling complex, multi-intent and, in some cases, highly emotional requests. If companies rely on voice assistants with limited cognitive and emotional intelligence, which severely limits their ability to complete tasks more intricate than delivering the current temperature, customer satisfaction and overall efficiency will suffer.

Fortunately, recent advancements in Conversational AI technology enable voice assistants to have near-human levels of intelligence, which can prove to be a significant differentiator for companies in customer service. With Conversational AI-powered voice assistants, companies can scale their ability to fully resolve questions in a manner that is human-like and personalized to their customers’ individual needs, creating positive customer experiences.

For example, if a customer were to call a telecommunications company to ask why their latest phone bill charged twice as much for data usage than the previous month, they would be understandably frustrated and have several urgent questions. If a basic, pre-scripted virtual assistant with a meager EQ answers the call, it would likely stumble through the interaction with a jarringly cheerful voice but without resolving the customer’s concern. In contrast, a Conversational AI-powered voice assistant would handle and resolve the issue quite differently. Let’s explore how.

An Intelligent Voice Resolves Customer Issues

Since basic voice assistants are built for answering short, simple and frequently asked questions, they struggle to answer multi-intent commands and often fail to complete tasks on behalf of the end user. This presents a problem for businesses, as very few customers call for simple, “hamburger-menu” questions. Conversational AI-powered virtual assistants like Amelia, however, connect with companies’ back-end systems and processes to fully resolve even the most complex requests.

Unlike pre-scripted, FAQ voice assistants, Amelia also continuously learns and develops her capabilities. She learns from observing how her human colleagues interact with customers, from her own conversations and from the large amounts of data that companies have accumulated over time. Like human agents, Amelia is constantly improving and refining her skills to ensure every customer is satisfied.

A final differentiator of Conversational AI-powered voice assistants versus chatbots is their ability to understand customers' emotions and intents, which they use to form appropriate responses. This is critical for businesses as it enables them deliver empathetic support on masse, which in turn makes customers feel cared for and valued. Since most people only call companies when they have a serious problem to resolve, appropriately responding to customers’ moods and intents is necessary for ensuring customers are clearly understood during the interaction, and that their issue is handled to their satisfaction.

At least for the foreseeable future, people are not shying away from making their voices heard through phone calls when they need service. To manage the demand for voice-based customer support, while also providing extraordinary customer service to every caller, businesses should invest in Conversational AI to provide personalized conversations that are worth a listen.

The Intelligent Contact Center

Companies have spent decades implementing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems in their call and customer care centers, but they've proven unable to keep up with customers' expectations.

In this white paper, we examine the benefits of an Intelligent Contact Center, where companies utilize Conversational AI-powered virtual agents to provide first-line resolution and support for customers, and augment human employees through AI and automation.

Download our paper to learn the benefits of this approach and why current IVR systems simply will not cut it in today’s hyper-paced digital landscape.

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