How to Build a Better Voice Bot

Ask the right questions. The rest will fall into place

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How to Build a Better Voice Bot
Contact CentreTalkdeskStrategy

Last Edited: December 13, 2022

John Flood

John Flood

When Winston Churchill wrote: “Science should be on tap, not on top,” you would have thought he was eerily prescient about Artificial Intelligence (AI) and voice-assisted bots.

He was already aware of the profound potential of science as a destructive weapon and an enabler of peace. But one thing he couldn’t have imagined was voice-enabled technology in the 21st century as an integral part of our daily lives – both as a blessing and as a headache.

Even today, his statement accurately describes what contact centers want to do but fail to achieve with voice bots and chat bots. They are created to help – not hinder. But their presence in the customer experience continues to evoke significant aggravation and mistrust.

When The Menu Is a Euphemism for the Labyrinth

Ineptly designed voice bots annoy customers, especially when they stumble through a menu of frustrating voice prompts and options.

“The biggest mistake is a poorly designed menu with too many options,” said Dawn Harpster, Senior Conversation Designer at Talkdesk. “Worse, the customer is forced to think hard about what to pick to determine where they need to go.”

And consider poor call containment. Every contact center wants to provide a self-service option. But life happens. There are billing issues, delivery problems, and products that need to be fixed.

There are some things that a bot can’t handle that humans can.

Resistance Is Futile. Bots Are Here to Stay.

Negative bot experiences have made customers resist them in an almost instinctive way. But there is no turning back. Businesses are deploying them, and everyone is caught in the bargain.

“They’re improving, and the technology gets better every year,” Harpster said. “They can be incredibly useful, like getting you to the right agent the first time instead of being passed from agent to agent. AI is a game changer.”

Design Makes or Breaks Bots

When starting a bot design, the overarching philosophy should be ease of use.

  • What is it? What’s being created?
  • What are its functions? And why?
  • What platform will it be on? Voice or digital?
  • How is the customer using it?

Also, consider the back-end database systems and the APIs involved. Returning a query could take a minute, even for a bot, producing a silent gap on the call. Customers need to know what’s going on during the silence. That impacts design.

“You need a use case that’s not going to involve a lot of heavy lifting for the customer, and it also has to provide value for the company,” said Harpster. “These questions determine the user experience.”

The Right Way and the Wrong Way. Ethics Is Foundational

As voice-assisted technologies improve, customers must be informed when speaking with bots.

With AI, it’s easier and easier to fool people. But, if a customer believes your voice bot has deceived them, it could create enormous reputational damage.

After all, social media is the bullhorn of our age. Don’t underestimate it.

The legal and ethical areas are also a work in progress. Companies that are proactive in this arena will avoid legal and reputational damage.

Don’t Be Afraid. Create a Great Bot.

The playbook is straightforward. Determine the best use case by harnessing available data about customers and why they’re calling.

Know what you’re measuring. Come up with KPIs to understand if it’s working or not.

Then, build your customer profile. Are they tech-savvy? Do they trust new technology? What are their demographics? Age? Education? Their socioeconomic level. All these factors contribute when creating a successful bot.

Click here to watch a free webinar discussion with Paige Lord, AI ethicist, and Dawn Harpster, Senior Conversation Designer at Talkdesk to delve deeper into the points raised in this article, alongside other AI topics.



Artificial IntelligenceBotsConversational AIInteractive Voice Response

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