As the world transitioned to a work-from-home remote workforce overnight in 2020, voice technology experienced a few transitions of its own. Here are four key ways the technology will level up to meet new needs and requirements in 2021.
AI: Moving Into the Strategic Swim Lane
Businesses have deployed chatbots and small-scale AI projects as proof of concepts for years now. Most of these experiments have either failed to live up to the hype or simply lost steam. 2021 will be the year when businesses gain ground with the technology as they start measuring its value through alignment with business goals and revenue streams. Refinement of vision and efforts in this area will be fueled by lessons learned through these early experiences and force multiplication alignment with partners with the right industry-specific expertise to guide growth. The result will be a transition of IVA technology from small initiative stage to providing strategic, enterprise-wide intelligence.
Hiring Good AI: Mitigating Customer Service Bias
IVAs are looking to solve another critical issue in 2020 — providing the technology to reduce partiality and level the playing field in the customer service realm. While there’s been much written about issues of bias in AI, less has been written about the use of AI to mitigate bias.
I think there is a big opportunity for companies to leverage this technology to be more forward thinking in 2021 and underscore their commitment to serving customers equitably and fairly. Technology has the same social responsibility that people do. It is our hope that the industry will make substantial progress in tackling unconscious bias in customer service in 2021. Taking On Employee Wellness
Another task IVAs will take on in 2021 is supporting the need for employee wellness. Already in 2020, IVAs are playing an important role in helping employees surface information from various applications to obtain the information necessary to do their jobs better and faster. In 2021, IVAs will also be tasked with going beyond helping assist during the task, to recognize when it’s time to get up and walk around or do something that will help the employee be happier and healthier long-term.
Making the Human Connection
While customers and employees want fast, personalised answers, we’ve learned in 2020 that people desire compassion and empathy. To this end, one other trend we will see continue in 2021 is the purposeful addition of pathways to connect automated journeys with live human agents when desired. Despite the ongoing industry rallying cry around “humans in the loop”, few AI vendors are putting this process into practice. A recent Forrester report found that out of 190 brands, “only 6% with a chatbot on a mobile app and 3% with a chatbot on a mobile website could facilitate escalations to a live chat agent.” Keeping humans in the loop is critical – especially given the empathy imperative – and we’re going to see the industry as a whole focus on this more consistently over the course of the next year.
It’s yet to be determined what 2021 will have in store. Whatever the case, IVA technology will continue to evolve to play an increasingly greater role in helping solve the customer and employee engagement challenges. Verint solutions are used by more than 10,000 organisations around the globe, including over 85 percent of the Fortune 100.
Guest Blog by Tracy Malingo, GM & Global Vice President, Intelligent Self-Service | Verint