The Future of Voicebots: Much More Than an IVR Alternative

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The Future of Voicebots: Much More Than an IVR Alternative
Contact CentreInsights

Published: January 31, 2022

Charlie Mitchell

As McKinsey & Company report: “IVR systems are evolving from dumb menu systems into smart ‘voicebots’ capable of handling complex customer queries.”  

With the rapid rise in AI-sophistication, such voicebots offer solace for contact centres. No longer must they fixate on the finer details of deep, nested menu structures. Instead, they can evolve their thinking and simply consider: what can I ask my customer so that they – in just two or three words – transfer to the appropriate department? 

All the complexity that the contact centre associates with developing the ideal IVR journey is erased. What’s more, the customer enjoys an effortless experience as they pass directly through to the right call queue. 

However, this is just scratching the surface of what voicebots can do. There are many more advanced voicebot features that will further improve call routing and customer experiences within the future contact centre. 

The Next Generation of Call Routing

IVR navigation is a common pain point within the service experience. Customers often press the wrong key, reach a dead-end, or become confused by the options presented – especially vulnerable customers.  

By flipping this process on its head and enabling customers to simply state their reason for calling, all complexity can be removed. A voicebot can recognise their intent and then initiate a simple flow, so customers enjoy a smoother first impression of your business. 

Furthering this, as the voicebot captures the exact reason why the customer is calling, it can funnel that information straight through to the most appropriate agent. In doing so, the agent is immediately brought up to speed with the issue at hand, streamlining the experience for both parties. 

Contact centres can also leverage this information to automate ticket tagging and gain an accurate understanding of why customers contact them. CX teams may then pinpoint critical contact drivers, identify broken processes, and assess failure demand. 

Within a matter of minutes, contact centres can deploy a voicebot with all this functionality, as Mashud Ahmed, a product manager at Puzzel, tells us: 

“Thanks to advances in natural language understanding (NLU) and automated speech recognition, best-in-class models understand customer intent, from just a few words, without any pretraining. The only determination the contact centre has to make is: what are the cases that I want to capture so that the call reaches this queue?”

Of course, the time to deploy will take longer if the contact centre wishes to build a more advanced system with further automation and self-service capabilities. 

Voicebot as a Self-Service Channel

Voicebots can also be trained to speak like humans and hold natural-sounding conversations with customers using neural voice technology. 

Neural voice is a powerful technology that performs AI-based voice cloning. From a single sound sample of just five seconds, it’s already possible for tools to generate entire sentences in a person’s voice, as if they spoke the words themselves. That means contact centres of the future will be able to continually design new self-service flows in natural-sounding speech. 

Robotic Process Automation (RPA) powers these self-service flows, triggering a set of actions that enable the voicebot to complete tasks. As an example, consider the classic customer query: “Where is my stuff?” Upon understanding this question, the bot can ask for an order number. With this information, it searches the tracking system and brings back a reasonable answer, delivering it to the customer right there and then. This simplifies the CX massively, especially when compared to traditional deflection strategies. 

Even when an issue is too complex to automate completely, a voicebot can assist with parts of the interaction. For example, the solution can collect customer information, process it, and pass it on to an agent. This reduces handle times and call abandon rates. 

Discussing the future of self-service and RPA, Ahmed adds: 

“Within a very short period, we will see the merging of two technologies whereby voicebots are naturally expected to interface with RPA to make more self-service experiences possible. In other words, instead of a human agent triggering a process, companies will have the opportunity to initiate them in the voice channel. There are many benefits to this, including the removal of human error” 

Training Existing Chatbots for Voice

Training a voicebot to deliver multiple self-service journeys takes time. Yet, brands with well-trained text-based chatbots now have an exciting opportunity to adapt their existing solution for the voice channel.  

Puzzel is working with one innovative client to achieve this aim. “By doing this, they estimate that they will automate 30% of their voice contacts, while the bot will support the other 70% through enhanced routing,” says Ahmed. 

Through Puzzel’s Bot Gateway – a feature that enables Puzzel to connect with third-party solutions such as IBM Watson and Dialogflow – Puzzel can now offer such a service across the entire industry. 

Of course, some chatbots will require tweaks to fit the new environment. Sometimes only particular use cases will seamlessly translate onto voice. Yet, in comparison to starting from scratch, contact centres can generate many successful, voice-powered self-service solutions in an incredibly short space of time and unlock further voice-based innovation much more quickly. 

Preparing Voicebots for a Future of Smart Displays

The rise of voicebots comes amid huge growth in smart speaker sales. These devices are evolving the future of voice, as customers can now interact with a voicebot and get the information they need without lifting a finger or speaking to a human. 

However, it’s not only voicebot technology that is evolving; smart speakers are too. The dawn of the smart display is now upon us, enabling customers to add context to their responses. Built-in cameras enable this capability, paving the way for gesture and facial recognition.   

With all this power at the fingertips of customers, the future of customer communication is evolving rapidly. “Voice in addition to this ability to interact with screens – across a variety of devices – is likely where it is heading,” adds Ahmed.  

To keep pace with this innovation, companies must consider how they will provide customers with convenient voice and video-powered customer service in the future. 

Puzzel is already working with many forward-thinking clients to incorporate these emerging channels into their contact centre environment. Its innovative approach to bots enables the vendor to find the right balance between offering self-service and creating smooth transitions to human support.  

Eager to learn how voicebots may fit into your contact centre environment? Reach out to a member of Puzzel’s friendly team today. 



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