Deploying AI for Customer Service

Artificial intelligence (AI) has great potential for improving customer service, according to Dr. Val Matula, vice president and CTO, Emerging Products & Technology, Avaya.

“A lot is changing in the contact center environment, and will continue to change in the next few years,” said Matula, who led a session on “Artificial Intelligence for Customer Service” at Avaya ENGAGE 2019 in Austin, Texas.  “AI is able to empower agents, and bring new information flows into your customer infrastructure.”

“A lot is changing in the contact center environment, and will continue to change in the next few years… AI is able to empower agents, and bring new information flows into your customer infrastructure” – Val Matula

While AI tools have been available since 1956, the pace of innovation is accelerating and  the field now includes machine learning, natural language processing, expert systems, robotics, and biometric recognition.

Val Matula, vice president and CTO, Emerging Products and Technology, Avaya

Matula said there are four main customer-service areas where AI is deployed in the contact center environment:

• Customer self-service, using conversational voice and bot-based interactions. One example is Avaya Ava, which provides customer engagement through social and messaging platforms. in the contact center.

• Smart routing, using AI-based agent skill selection and behavioral pairings. “This can help organizations build relationships with customers, rather than simply handling a transaction,” Matula said. Avaya’s partnership with Afiniti brings Enterprise Behavioral Pairing to organizations, so callers can be matched with the most appropriate and effective agent.

• Agent augmentation, helping to improve customer service. The Avaya Conversational Intelligence vision involves providing timely suggestions to the agent in real time during the call. One example is “listening” to the emotional tone of the customer, a technique called sentiment analysis, and providing real-time pop-up suggestions to the agent. “These tools can also look at agent patterns, such as not asking for a close, that can be addressed through training,” Matula said.

• Interaction insights from contact center information flows. “You can create live transcripts and upload them into your CRM,” said Matula. “Machine learning tools can also be used to build a model for improving the customer experience or agent efficiency. With enough data, you may be able to predict outcomes based on past transactions,” he added. “This approach can also be used to improve the overall training of agents.”

Other benefits of evolving AI solutions include better and faster call documentation, along with the ability to capture all calls, rather than just a sampling. “You can provide full visibility, which may be particularly important for compliance purposed in highly regulated industries,” Matula said.

Passive biometrics is another field where AI can help companies deliver better service. Rather than having an agent ask a series of questions to validate a caller’s identity, sophisticated voice recognition tools, coupled with other automated procedures, can streamline the process.  “This allows agents to spend less time helping people who have called in before and more time with calls that might be problematic, such as a fraud situation,” Matula said.

Facial imaging is another tool that can be used to validate video calls in situations like banking ATMs with remote tellers or healthcare facilities offering telemedicine or telehealth programs.

Matula encouraged communications professionals to learn more about AI and look for ways to begin deploying these tools in their organizations. “Take the first step in putting a basic system in place,” he said. “Once you have shown the value of using AI in customer interactions, you can expand your deployment and move forward.”

Want to hear more from Val Matula? Listen to an exclusive interview on the IAUG Insider Podcast and be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform!

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