Customer service today is very different from what it was five years ago. The sudden ascent of AI and shift in working patterns has meant that contact centers can integrate multiple modalities like chat, social, and messaging apps into their service operations to optimize not only the customer experience but the agent experience as well.
Yet, voice still plays the central role within this burgeoning channel mix.
Last week, Rob Scott, Founder of CX Today, met with Michael Windon, National Practice Lead at AT&T, and John C’de Baca, Director of AI and Automation Sales at Five9, to understand why and consider the channel’s future.
Voice Is Critical: We’ll Always Need the Human Touch.
AT&T continues to see voice as a leading modality for customer communication. They understand that voice has a unique quality – the human touch – which is often more important than quantity.
“The nuances in speech can help relay critical information and understand the emotional state of customers, which is often lost in text or chat-based interactions,” says Michael.
That human-to-human reassurance is also critical for customers, who are also likely to perceive that picking up the phone is most likely to lead to a resolution.
AI Has Arrived, But Sentiment Is Key.
Another reason voice is such a critical part of excellent customer service is that agents can gauge the sentiment and intent of the customer. Windon explains:
“Knowing how to manage expectations results in happier agents, longer tenure, and happier customers.”
This is where the Intelligent Virtual Agent from Five9 makes its mark. It takes care of the higher volume and lower-value interactions to prevent agents from burnout.
Such lower-value interactions are usually status checks, appointment cancellations, or customers wanting to reschedule an appointment, for example.
Intelligent Voice In CX: The Next Big Thing
A highlight of the discussion was the emphasis on cutting-edge AI technologies – including GenAI – which offer a glimpse into the future of customer service voice conversations.
These technologies are advancing agent and customer outcomes across the channel.
First, consider the agent perspective. Already, their experiences are changing with the advent of agent-assist portfolios – which group various AI technologies.
One example is the Agent Assist suite from Five9, collating relevant information in real-time so that agents can deal with queries faster. It also offers on-the-call coaching and suggests the next best actions – factoring in live voice data.
Next, think about how voice AI is maximizing customer outcomes. Consider how the contact center may leverage AI – in emergency situations – to detect the urgency in a customer’s voice and prioritize their call. That ensures no emergencies are ever left waiting in a queue.
Moreover, using AI in voice technology has proved critical in catering to younger demographics. Self-service options available 24/7 on the device of their choice are becoming increasingly important, providing customers with a seamless experience and ensuring they can access information and assistance whenever needed.
Unifying Channels Is More Crucial than Ever
Adding voice to a contact center might be a good idea, but the discussion also highlighted the challenges of unifying all customer engagement channels.
It’s essential that AI understands voice by contextualizing and integrating it into the customer journey. Only then can the agent provide an optimized service.
A real-world example showcased the power of combining voice and chat modalities for a seamless customer experience.
A multi-modal interaction, such as an insurance claim, can start online through a web app and transition smoothly into a voice conversation when the customer has questions. This integrated approach ensures a high-quality CX.
Intelligent Voice: A Practical Approach to Integration
Deploying voice technology in CX comes with its set of challenges. Businesses must understand their strategic objectives and consider compliance and security. It’s crucial to work with service providers like Five9 to integrate these technologies effectively and ensure they meet regulatory requirements.
The journey toward implementing intelligent voice technology in CX is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.
Both Five9 and AT&T advise a pragmatic approach, starting with identifying customer needs, implementing quick solutions, and continuously innovating. The key is to remain agile, using contact center as a service to enable easy experimentation and adjustment.
The Future of CX Is Voice-enabled
In summary, voice technology and AI-driven solutions are reshaping the landscape of customer communication. Businesses that harness these technologies are not only improving their customer experiences but also making significant strides in cost savings, personalization, and 24/7 availability.
Voice will undoubtedly play a central role in the future of CX, and companies that embrace this transformation might just thrive in the digital era.
Watch the webinar “The Rise of Intelligent Voice” with Rob Scott from CX Today alongside industry leaders John C de Baca from Five9 and Michael from AT&T here as they delve into the critical topics reshaping the landscape of customer communications in the digital age.