There was a time when Artificial Intelligence (AI) was merely a fantasy in the realm of science fiction. But through decades of rigorous academic research and innovation, AI is finally (and steadily) permeating our daily lives. From Siri and Alexa to Watson and Google Now, endless applications are utilizing the best in AI technology. But it’s not just limited to residential uses: businesses are finding many ways to take advantage of the functionalities of AI. This also means that the contact center space is being affected by the rise in AI, too, helping to deliver better customer experiences through real-time results.
Genesys, a global leader in omnichannel customer experience and contact center solutions, is tapping into the opportunities that AI technologies offer in terms of helping to streamline contact center processes, improve sales outcomes, and cut costs. And so, to help create a forward-thinking contact center solution and to shape the next-generation customer experience, Genesys recently debuted an integration of its PureCloud contact center solution with Amazon Lex, an AWS service for building conversational interfaces, at the annual AWS re:Invent conference.
In this article, Olivier Jouve, the Executive Vice President at PureCloud by Genesys, talks to VoipReview.org about the company’s latest integration and also offers some predictions on where AI will take business communications in the near future.
What is the PureCloud-Amazon Lex Integration?
PureCloud, a cloud-based customer engagement and employee collaboration solution offered by Genesys, connects customers across various channels including phone, email, chat, web and social media, and provides businesses with the information they need to participate in informed and effective conversations. Amazon Lex, meanwhile, is a service for building conversational interfaces for any applications using voice and text. It has the ability to decipher intents from natural human communication (based on trained models) and capture data slots using the same conversational engine that powers Amazon Alexa.
With the PureCloud-Amazon Lex integration, Jouve said that Genesys’ contact center customers will now be able to harness Natural Language Understanding (NLU) in Genesys PureCloud within an IVR flow to recognize not only what consumers are saying, but also their intent. “When AI is leveraged with IVR in this way, it removes some of the friction from the consumer perspective because the consumer can speak more naturally and is able to more easily get what they want,” said Jouve. “The company is better able to understand their intent and route the call to a highly skilled agent more quickly, resulting in improved first-call resolution.”
The integrated solution will also allow businesses to consolidate multiple interactions into a single flow that can be applied over different self-service channels, reducing the number of call flows a business will need to maintain and further simplifying contact center administration and support.
Key Highlights of the PureCloud-Amazon Lex integration
Jouve highlighted some of the most important highlights of their latest integration:
A democratized approach to AI. While a lot of AI services for the contact center are complicated and can be costly, Jouve said that their latest offering is unique because it democratizes the technology to bring AI capabilities just as easily to small and medium-sized businesses as to larger enterprises. “This integration enables businesses without developer resources to leverage AI through a simple drag-and-drop, point-and-click interface,” said Jouve.
Conversational IVR. The PureCloud-Amazon Lex integration provides businesses with a solution that makes the customer experience more effortless by leveraging a conversational IVR. According to Jouve: “Customers can now call in and have a more natural conversation with the IVR instead of responding with ‘Press or say one’ to book a flight or responding to a series of questions from the voice (AI) on the line.”Jouve continued: “For example, a customer can call into the airline’s IVR and ask several different types of questions such as: ‘How many airline miles do I have?’; ‘Can you help me book a round trip flight from RDU to SFO the morning of December 17 using my airline miles?’; and ‘What is your cancellation policy?’ ” Plus, at any time during the interaction, a customer can say "I want to talk to a human" and PureCloud will seamlessly connect the caller to a customer service agent.
Easy activation. Genesys customers can activate the integration with Amazon Lex from within PureCloud and configure the integration access to their AWS services. Once enabled, a new toolkit will be available within the architecture inbound call flow designer, that will allow the business to select a Lexbot from their AWS account and automatically import information into PureCloud on the difference intent paths and associate slot data (which can be mapped to PureCloud variables). The integration will be available through PureCloud, and any costs for use of the Amazon Lex Services will show-up on the customer’s existing AWS account bill.
Available to customers in 2018. The integration will be officially available to PureCloud customers in 2018. Jouve noted that while this integration is initially available for the inbound voice channel, the company ultimately plans to add outbound, SMS, chat and other messaging channels in the near future.
So now that AI is not just another buzzword but has become a business demand, what does the future hold? Jouve believes that the interest in AI and digital self-service will only continue to grow. “2018 may become the year that we see organizations investing more in self-service and speech recognition technologies to address pain points, or to free up agents to deal with more complex queries and higher value transactions,” predicted Jouve. “Thanks to the growing popularity of virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa and Google Home, we are becoming used to interacting with AI voices at home. This means that consumers are now more comfortable interacting with chatbots when they call a contact center – and in some cases even prefer it.”
Nevertheless, Jouve cautions that moving ahead with AI-only or bot-only strategies is nearsighted. He argues that AI and bots are still unable to replicate the human touch that is necessary to handle complex and/or emotional issues. “At Genesys, we believe that AI is used at its best when it supplements and extends the capabilities of human agents; we call this ‘blended AI.’ ” Blended AI is the idea that automation and AI together can deliver the greatest value when combined with the human touch. “This is why we created Kate, our customer experience AI,” said Jouve. “Kate exists not to replace customer service and support staff, but rather to help them solve customer problems and answer questions better, faster, and more efficiently.”
Another rising trend that Jouve believes will impact the contact center space is augmented reality (AR). According to Jouve, AR holds tremendous promise in regards to enhancing self-service, especially for instructional scenarios. “A big development for AR experience is in blended AI (like our own Genesys Kate), where you have AI engines directing real-time interactions,” shared Jouve. “At the moment, AR is predominantly app-based so everything that is going to happen for AR experience is pre-determined within that app. Whereas with AI driving the AR experience, you can have customized experiences based on who I am, where I am, the physical relationship of the phone to the object, image recognition to know what I’m looking at, and data pulled in from other sources’ interactions or questions about the object.”
To learn more about Genesys PureCloud and how its latest integration with Amazon Lex will help push contact center performance and improve the customer experience, please visit Genesys’ website.
As the world’s #1 Customer Experience Platform, Genesys is committed to helping businesses develop excellent omnichannel experiences and shape exceptional customer journeys and relationships. Genesys’ robust product portfolio includes best-in-class customer engagement, employee engagement, and business optimization solutions. More than 10,000 organizations in 100 countries across the globe depend on Genesys’ solutions to drive customer and business success. Genesys has its global headquarters in the San Francisco Bay Area.