Staying human in the age of bots

As we market our voice bot and successfully implement increasingly complicated use cases, a big question I hear within the call center industry is “ What will the role of humans be in the call center now? Will bots completely replace people?” The short answer is “no”. The long answer is slightly more nuanced. Read on.. All of us are experiencing bots in some form or another. Chatbots are both expected and accepted now on most websites. Last year we introduced Voice bots too with a bang.  We see accuracy levels improving almost daily. We can soon expect this technology to be stable and predictable, especially in English, Hindi (India) and other vernacular languages. When will bots take over? Possibly never. One question which a lot of our customers ask is when will voice bots replace agents? My view is that it may never happen in toto. Yes, very basic and mundane query-based processes (like shipment/delivery status of an order) will definitely move to bots. Surveys, basic level KYC processes will also move to bots. These are easy to implement and will not require any human intervention. (Although currently human backup is recommended..read more).  Compassion is still a human-only skill Let us consider processes that deal with nephrology patients who are undergoing dialysis: these CANNOT move to a bot. Currently, agents deal with these patients by speaking with them in a language that they understand. They have to be compassionate. Similarly, an HIV helpline cannot be a bot. The afflicted person needs human contact. So what’s my final take?  A fine balance will emerge as bots mature. The ratio of calls being handled by bots and humans will depend on the industry and processes. There is no formula that fits all.

Staying human in the age of bots 2020-01-17T09:43:27+00:00


Everyone’s saying 2020 is going to be a year of upgrades. And we don’t deny that. This year, contact centers are going to witness technological changes like never before. From the advent of digital assistants to delivering customer curated services and knowing people more deeply, 2020 is just the beginning of a new era truly. Let’s check out what’s here for us. Powerful Digital Assistants + Voice Bots! This equation might sound too futuristic to a common man but is closer than we think. Voice bot integration with digital assistants is all set to interact with our customers more naturally. For example, you have a complaint to lodge about a device. With this kind of integration, you can simply ask Alexa to do the needful for you. Just say, “I wish to complain about my new device” and your job’s done! This intelligent technology is designed to deliver automated conversations with a human touch. A lot of customers today do not like to chat with the chatbots. They prefer to use their voice more or rather get into direct conversations with someone listening to them on the other side and responding. Each conversation can be captured, analyzed and aggregated to deliver real‑time insights. Plus, the digital assistant becomes smarter over time by learning from past and current live agent interactions, and other engagements happening in your digital channels to constantly optimize the behavior and improve the accuracy of the responses.  Think BIG, with Voice Does the faith in the future of the chatbot industry still persist? We think, not much though. A year back, companies automated up to 90% of their customer interaction using chatbots. Customers boldly use chatbots (including voice assistants, as a separate category of intelligent chatbots) as the only channel for shopping. BUT, our customers are advancing much faster than we thought. Chatbots often misunderstood the nuances of human communication, 30% reported that chatbots performed commands inaccurately, and 29% reported difficulties in understanding accents. In addition, 23% of organizations surveyed found that smart helpers cannot distinguish the voice of the “owner”, which can be a problem in the busy conditions. (source: https://chatbotsmagazine.com/chatbot-report-2019-global-trends-and-analysis-a487afec05b) Hence, companies using chatbots today see many opportunities for improvement. People plan to implement one or more intelligent assistants or AI-based chat robots over corporate mobile devices. Up-and-coming Omnichannel  We haven’t fully embraced omnichannel completely even though we all talked about it in the last year too. Somehow, the processes in omnichannel have been slower. But, this technology is set to move front and center as part of customer experience (CX) strategy in 2020. Omnichannel marketing combines all customer interaction points, including e-commerce stores, email, and social media accounts across desktop and mobile into a single integrated customer journey toward the purchase and long-term loyalty.  Semi-automated solutions may be particularly helpful for smaller SMBs, who stand to benefit from an AI-driven solution that covers omnichannel needs efficiently and at an affordable price point. Also, in 2020, we may see organizations aim to humanize touchpoints [...]

MOST IMPORTANT CALL CENTER TRENDS OF 2020 2020-01-17T09:48:02+00:00

Voice Bot Conversations: Hype or Reality?

This article spotlights the growth of voice in India, one of the fastest growing economies and the second most populous country in the world. 2019 was termed the year of the voice. In the United States, over 60 million people owned smart speakers by the end of the year. Says Sarah Peres, in Techcrunch " The growth in smart speakers is part of a larger trend toward voice computing and smart voice assistants — like Siri, Bixby and Google Assistant — which are often accessed on smartphones". With the lines blurring between voice bots and virtual assistants, AI and chatbots now have the power to bring 300 million Indians on the digital platform. Nasscom’s report shows that smart speaker growth is imminent in the country. Trends in voice technology Let’s take a look at the changes and trends predicted in the Nasscom report. Shift from text to voice At the beginning of 2019, chatbot technology was more advanced than voice tech. But voice has rapidly caught up. Voice bot conversations are becoming increasingly natural. As are result,  many users are showing a preference for voice. Already 3.5 billion Google searches are voice-based. Smartphones are the largest usage channel (81%) for these voice-based solutions. Users will prefer chatbots in public spaces such as offices or cafes when they want more private conversations. But as technology advances, and smart speakers become mainstream: voice conversations will be the faster, easier, more natural solution. People will adopt them for hands-free operations at home and during commutes or while exercising. India goes voice-first Both users and developers are growing within the voice space. In India, 51% of internet users access voice-enabled functionality. 2018 registered 11 notable investments in Indian conversational AI start-ups, allowing them to strengthen their tech capabilities. Research points to virtual assistants creating the highest impact on Indian businesses after Machine Learning. The maximum impact will be in IT, followed by BFSI, manufacturing, and education. Voice could also play a pivotal role in enabling e-governance. No wonder that conversational AI is the focus for nearly 1/4 startups in India. Improved customer service According to the report, voice has big potential within customer service. It will enable 24 x 7 customer support while reducing costs and improving experience. Service will become faster while simultaneously reducing the load and improving agent productivity. It will use data and intelligence to predict customer behavior and personalize service. Move from script-based to intelligent solutions Earlier, both chat and voice solutions such as speech recognition IVR depended on scripted responses and pre-defined questions fed into the system. The shift is now towards AI-based Voice bots and Chatbots. These bots can utilize AI technologies such as NLP, ML, to understand user intent, learn from past conversations. Acquisitions, Partnerships, Patents Partnerships will accelerate innovations. For instance the partnerships between Google and Qualcomm, Epson, Whirlpool, Kohler to launch voice-enabled headphones, printers, washing machines, bathroom lines, respectively. Or acquisitions such as Apple Siris acquisition of Laserlike and Pull string. In India, Flipkart recently acquired Liv.ai to provide [...]

Voice Bot Conversations: Hype or Reality? 2020-01-17T11:47:19+00:00

5 reasons customers (still) need your contact center

Do you expect to create a product or service so perfect that customers never need to speak with you?  Don’t overlook the critical role of customer communications when growing your business. Here is why. Customers don’t pointlessly want to talk to your business. The popular quote by Jeff Bezos states it best “The best customer service is if the customer doesn't need to call you, doesn't need to talk to you. It just works.” So why do businesses create call centers? Can’t they channel their customer service budget into marketing and product development instead? Unfortunately, not. There is an older adage by a certain Mr. Murphy that also holds true “Everything that can go wrong will”. And here is where your contact center comes in. Almost all of us know how flawlessly Netflix works. Yet even this seemingly perfect service can break. Last year, when someone hacked into my Netflix account, I really missed having a toll-free number to call. Earlier in the year when I ran into issues with Google Pay I simply couldn’t find a solution or a phone number to call, and eventually dropped using the service. In fact, I recently noticed a site called gethuman.com that gives you phone numbers to contact almost any business. Their tagline says it all: get a company on a phone faster, and get better help” 1 So why do customers want to call or chat with your business? Here are the top 5 reasons why: To research a product The first place anyone goes to research products or services is the internet. But sometimes, the information is overwhelming. As Mahesh Chaddah of reservations.com says “Even tech-savvy people have non-tangible, non-checkbox criteria that they want to search.”2 For example, a person planning a holiday might be looking for ways to make the trip more enjoyable for say an elderly parent. She has doubts and concerns she needs to clarify with a person. Or she might be too busy to do her own research. Because with so much information present online, getting a human opinion can really make things easier and faster for people. Having an agent available at this stage via live chat or phone could make a huge difference to both information-gathering and decision-making. To make a purchase Ideally making a purchase should be a smooth, seamless, single-step process. Nothing beats the convenience of a “click to buy” button. But considering what an important stage this is in your customer journey; it is prudent to have a customer support phone number at hand. The number should speedily connect customers to well-trained agents who are experts at allaying any concerns and quickly solving any last-minute hurdles for the customer. To ask a question No matter how much information you provide via tutorials and guides and videos, there will always be that one unique doubt that someone has. Asking questions about how a product or service works accounts for 10-20% of all call center queries. Sometimes, people find it easier to [...]

5 reasons customers (still) need your contact center 2020-01-15T07:00:53+00:00

New Year Resolutions for Your Contact Center

Yay, it’s 2020! We know how we’re all wondering how fast the year 2020 has arrived. A year we all look forward to. A year full of phase shifts in the world of technology; a year that’s really going to be for growth. And while we all talk about growing, how far have we planned our goals? For all those contact centers who wish to make the most of the new year 2020, here’s a game-plan. Improve Customer Emotions Customers today have become more involved in brands. They look to make a connect and have a sense of belongingness with brands. You have the power to change their experience by changing the way you interact with them. Even when a situation is bad, the way it is handled determines how a customer feels about your brand. Make it worth remembering, make it helpful.  Take an In-house Test This is not an examination that we’re talking about. It’s about taking little casual surveys every morning. Have a daily blog, motivate your employees to keep pushing their limits, have few talk-over-coffee sessions, let people add more thoughts and ideas to the table. Believe us, this triggers a lot of positivity and ushers free communication in the organization. Analyze the Metrics Change is the only constant. Always keep updating your managing strategies to keep up with advancements in it. Sometimes, the thought setup, in the beginning, doesn't need to be there till the end. Improve, edit and make better. if metrics aren’t changed regularly, compare your metrics set with other contact centers in a similar field. Then consider: are your contact center’s metrics outdated? Stop being boring Think: when was the last time you chucked those old-school work processes out and brought up the new? Have you been working in the same dumb way and lacking efficiency? If the answer is yes, it’s time you take a new turn. A good way to find out about broken processes is to ask advisors if they can provide any ideas on improving efficiency. Listening and acting on advisor feedback will improve their engagement and morale. Ask your employees the right questions, looking for quality data and not just answers. We hope 2020 brings forth loads of good things to you. Cheers to new beginnings!

New Year Resolutions for Your Contact Center 2020-01-13T17:25:23+00:00