Understanding the Significance of ‘Platform’ in a Voice AI Solution 

We are at the initial stages of Voice AI’s evolution, in an epoch where well-functioning vertical Voice AI solutions will be instrumental in helping companies transform customer support and gain customer loyalty. But to a significant faction of CXOs, the understanding of Voice AI technology, its capabilities, and nuances remain obscure. Our earlier articles have tried to elucidate voice technology and how it can prove instrumental in transforming contact centers. In this article, we further that conversation and move on from discussing the Voice AI ‘product’ to the ‘platform’ and why companies looking to automate their contact centers must consider platform capabilities as a factor that will impact their long-term success.

The platform question holds greater gravitas when the top priorities are ROI, time-to-live, control over performance, and market leadership. In this blog, we deep dive into the core questions: what does a Voice AI platform look like, why does having a capable platform matter, and what are its far-reaching implications?

A Deep Dive: Unique Advantages of a Voice-first Voice AI Vendor 

Why Having a State-of-the-art Platform Matters

Today, voice technology has advanced sufficiently to deliver intelligent voice conversations. The wait is finally over, and companies can transform their CX with voice-first Augmented Voice Intelligence platforms.

Voice AI is the most significant automation trend of 2022.

Here are a few core considerations that CXOs must deliberate over while evaluating a Voice AI solution:

  • Intent Accuracy
  • Speed or Latency
  • Time-to-Live
  • First Call Resolution Rates
  • Integration Capabilities
  • Data Security, Privacy, and Storage

Know more about KPIs while deciding on a vendor

Even coming to the correct conclusion about a Voice AI vendor capabilities is not easy. But let’s assume the product is good, but before signing up, look into the vendor’s platform capability. It is the next big and most important task because, in the long run, the performance will depend mainly on the platform’s capabilities.

Explore More: The Ultimate Voice AI Vendor Selection Guide

Before we go deep into the topic, let us, distinguish a product from a platform. 

  • A product is essentially an application that solves a specific use case.
  • The Platform is the underlying structure that provides the core building blocks and the infrastructure for the functioning of one or many products.

In other words, a platform is an enabling environment over which many products run. The architecture of a chat-first voice-capable platform will be very different from that of a voice-first platform because the latter is built and optimized for voice, giving it a distinct performance edge. Here is a glimpse of a purpose-built Augmented Voice Intelligence Platform:

The Platform View of a Vertical Voice AI Company

From the above diagram one thing comes out clearly: that for smooth functioning of a Voice AI solution, its various constituent parts must work in perfect synchronicity. Hence, beyond the product, i.e., the voicebot, various other platform features are needed for an ideal Voice AI solution.

Let’s deep dive to answer the questions: why should companies look for platform capabilities in their potential Voice AI vendor?

At the core of this issue is the increasing realization that voice as a medium of customer support will see an irreversible rise in the coming years, led by Voice AI technology. In the long run, any company that wants a firm hold on its market share or leadership must look into the Platform capability of its Voice AI vendor to enhance the probability of sustainable success and competitive advantage. Here are the five core advantages of a robust Voice AI platform:

  1. Long-Term Success: The performance, strength, and sophistication of the Platform, not the product, determines the success of the company in the long run. Choosing the right Platform will help contact centers mitigate the risk of changing the vendor and starting from scratch mid-course.
  2. Replicating Platform Technology is Challenging: Platforms can not be built  overnight. Creating a state-of-the-art platform technology takes vision, resources, capability, and time. Over time the benefits multiply due to network effect and learning curve advantages associated with AI models. This initial advantage creates a remarkable difference as years add on.
  3. Leveraging Modularity: A robust platform always aces modularity as it provides diverse and latest technology options for contact centers to create their solution the way they want. It allows for ease and diversity of integrations. This gives the company flexibility in cherrypicking integrations.
  4. Multiplier Effect: In the extended run, contact centers, Voice AI providers, and other application providers benefit from a robust platform as it harnesses the multiplier effect by leveraging the presence of dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of third-party vendors. So, any company using the platform to deploy a voicebot will have not only a multitude of choices, but they will also benefit from the innovation they bring in, as it can be easily incorporated into their voicebot. 
  5. Faster and Agile: A strong Voice AI platform will make it easy for companies to create and upgrade their voicebots. Reduction in time-to-go-live and ease of creating, maintaining, and enhancing the voicebot makes it easy to change and maximize its effectiveness. 

Here are some of the capabilities of an evolving Voice AI platform:

  • A Unified View: It should give a unified view of the entire voicebot, from stats on conversational design to integration to ASR.
  • Voicebot Creation: It must allow companies to create conversational flows and test and deploy them with minimal help from the Voice AI vendor.
  • Collaboration: It must allow the users to collaborate and comment at any point of voicebot creation.
  • Enhancements and Testing: Changes in policy, customer preferences, or offers must reflect changes in conversational design. The users must be able to easily do these upgrades and modifications and test them before deployment.
  • Campaign Management:  The effectiveness of the voicebot depends on the capability of the user to run campaigns with complete control. It must allow them to upload data, run campaigns, and modify them real-time. 
  • A Wide Range of Tools and Integrations: Creating a voicebot with autonomy requires giving a choice of a wide range of tools. A robust platform would provide that to its users along with a great variety of integrations.

A Voice AI vendor can have a great product and a short time to market. But if it is missing a great platform, then, in the long run, its clients will lose their competitive advantages. A CXO can indirectly identify the signs of a weak platform. Here are a few major red flags of a weak platform:

  1. Opaque: The creation of the voicebot will be opaque to the contact center.
  2. No Clear Visibility:  The elementary constitution of the voicebot and its functioning will have no visibility.
  3. Lack of Agility: For every minor tweak, the user must catch hold of the engineering team to code and execute the change. This is a waste of time, resources, and money.
  4. Operational Friction: Constant and copious communication between the user and the Voice AI vendor will decelerate the pace of implementation of changes. 
  5. Slower and Patchy Delivery/Updates: Delays in deployment, updates, and upgrades
  6. Absence of a Marketplace Advantage: A robust platform grows rapidly, and with its growth comes the network effect, i.e. the presence of third-party solutions that can augment performance in many dimensions.
  7. Lack of Control on Quality: Giving absolute control over the creation and deployment of the voicebot helps the users engage more deeply with their voicebot and mold it with their vision. The outcomes are much better and are sustained for a longer period.

Some great ways to identify these telltale signs is to engage in a free-of-cost pilot or to ask relevant questions during detailed demos.

The essential thing is, a Voice AI vendor must possess a great product that can converse intelligently with consumers or callers. Additionally, this product must be facilitated by a robust underlying platform that enhances its capabilities, adding to the overall experience of creating, deploying, and improving the voicebot.

To learn more about Voice AI solution and what it can do for a contact center, book a consultation now: www.skit.ai 

Move Beyond IVRs: Transform CX with Digital Voice Agents!

For contact centers, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems were a turning point a few decades ago, but now have become a customer experience turn-off. IVR systems have helped companies manage call volumes as well as create value with self-service options, information gathering, and call routing.  But a recent study found that, on average, IVRs cost businesses $256 per customer each year! Additionally, a whopping 61% of these customers are unhappy with IVR systems and believe they contribute to a poor customer experience.

“About 83% of the customers abandon the call and company after their IVRs encounters.”- Vonage report.

Why IVR Systems a Customer Service Turn off 

Historically, IVRs have failed to delight callers due to the poorly designed phone menu and the inability to dispense an answer or connect an agent on the go. Companies and businesses receive a lot of flak due to the general notion of associating IVRs as cost-effective replacements for contact center agents. It is paradoxical that customers warmly accept other forms of automated, self-service options for an instant response like ATMs and a variety of mobile applications but not IVRs!

The reasons for it are pretty simple. Since their introduction into the contact center market, IVR systems have undergone few iterations, and their main features haven’t changed much. The hold time, lengthy pre-recorded menus, and the need to repeat query information, especially during an emergency, continue to be a liability for businesses.  More importantly, customers have a strong affinity for resolving queries with a human representative than with restrictive, pre-recorded systems that only leave them with unsavory emotions towards the brand.

Nearly 47% of callers reportedly experience frustrations with IVRs. A significant number of them admitted feeling angered and stressed, according to the Vonage report.  

The same report also revealed that instead of IVRs, if the customers were able to get a hold of a live agent, they experienced relief (27%), less frustration (26%), and less anger (24%).  However, call center agents often end up at the receiving end of customer frustrations from navigating a labyrinth of IVR menus. Therefore the onus is on brands to elevate customer experiences without negatively impacting agents’ morale and productivity.

In this article, we share our insights on overcoming common contact center and customer experience challenges associated with traditional IVRs by diving into the capabilities of Voice AI. We will explore how brands can elevate their customer support with intelligent voice automation of nearly 70% of calls and human-like conversations.

Explore Now: AI-powered Digital Voice Agents vs Outbound IVRs 

Understanding Digital Voice Agents: DVA vs. IVRs 

Imagine a scenario—a customer calls a banking company’s contact center to block their stolen debit card. In lieu of pre-recorded messages and caller authentication protocols, the call is handled by a voice agent that is capable of contextually comprehending the caller’s urgency and making appropriate suggestions. The overall call experience is different! Why?

  • Zero waiting time
  • The instant response instead of punching numbers, a refreshing change from the lengthy IVRs menu options, annoying IVR theme music, and even from the exasperating experience of going down the rabbit hole of the menu by accidentally pressing a wrong button. 
  • For simple queries, no need for human agents

That’s our Digital Voice Agent (DVA) at work. Skit.ai’s DVA, for instance, is an AI-enabled virtual agent built from the ground up to understand human conversations. It can be plugged into contact centers to resolve tier 1 customer problems and automate cognitively routine work.

Digital Voice Agents vs. IVRs

  1. Built for Voice: Unlike conventional IVRs and chatbots that are capable of understanding only transcriptions, Digital Voice Agents are crafted specifically for voice conversations. Whenever a customer calls the contact center, they can interact with the voice agents in the same way as they converse with human agents.  
  2. Built for Personalization: With DVAs, there wouldn’t be any psychological barriers that callers experience when they are forced to interact with IVRs or chatbots. Besides, an intelligent voice agent that can sound like a human, picks up on the immediacy of the issue, giving callers a sense of relief and comfort in their critical moments, adding a more personal touch to customer service. Besides, they can even interact in the caller’s preferred choice of language.
  3. Built for Accuracy: Another issue when dealing with IVRs is that they work well only when there are no external disturbances like background noise or music. They can sometimes not recognize text inputs and end up redirecting the caller to the undesired part of the IVR menu. But DVAs can take in both voice and text inputs, and even filter out the ambient noise to capture the accurate voice response by the customer. 
  4. Built for Capturing Intent: Voice agents are based on powerful spoken language understanding (SLU) algorithms and can identify the semantics of the conversation. They can accurately capture the caller’s sentiment, tone of voice, and speed of the conversation to identify intent. 
  5. Built for Resolution: In emergency situations that require a quick response from customer support, a call hold would reflect poorly on the company’s services. It can even make them lose customers to their competitors. Most IVRs cannot pick up on non-linguistic cues like pauses, gasps, and utterances in between sentences. It is purely designed for text inputs. DVAs are capable of having contextually accurate interactions without relying on a limited stack of keywords, enabling quick query resolution. 
  6. Built for Intelligent Human and Machine Collaboration: IVRs are automated and function independent of human agents. DVAs are capable of end-to-end automation of simplistic calls and pass on complex ones to human agents, involving them only in complex use cases.

 A Deep Dive: AI-powered Digital Voice Agents vs IVRs

Now, let’s look into 7 specific angles where Skit.ai’s purpose-built, industry-specific voice-first technology, Voice AI, makes a tremendous difference to contact centers.  Skit.ai’s voice agents are a better fit than traditional IVRs in enhancing the quality of customer service.

  1. Speed and  Simplicity: Simple and easy-to-understand customer support is a formula for delighting a captive audience. There’s a good chance that the majority of callers may not get past the common obstacles in IVR menus, complex navigation, and confusing terminologies. IVRs can best offer five top-level and three sub-level menu options whereas DVAs immediately attend to calls, keeping it short and simple. 
  2. Quick Resolution with Cost Efficiency:  Apart from resolving customers’ problems, customer service organizations look at cost and call time spent as success metrics. Instead of wasting time, waiting for the right menu option on IVRs, customers’ queries with DVAs are addressed instantly and at a fraction of the cost while also engaging with the callers over voice conversations at scale. 
  3. For Intelligent Customer Service: Today’s customer service is expected to be built intuitively to absolve current issues and anticipate the next course of action. DVAs help make the most of the voice conversations with customers by mimicking human-like conversations and leveraging customer data to make appropriate recommendations, suggest steps or make intelligent call transfers to human agents.
  1. Quick Agent Reach during Emergency: Even the most loyal customers lose patience and abandon calls midway when forced to repeatedly go over the IVR system. For critical use cases that require timely resolution, DVAs work best. They not only hold an immediate voice interaction with the callers but also identify short, conversational utterances, pick up on callers’ intent, and capture customer details for quick call transfers to human agents. 
  1. Making Query Resolution Interactive: Speaking to a live agent immediately is not the magic bullet for customer support success. Augmenting IVR systems or replacing them with Voice AI-driven automation for call back features at customers’ preferred time helps personalize and enhance the call experience making the conversations more empathetic. The rapid scalability and robust integrations of the DVAs help include options to reach customers with interactive emails and voicemails along with call-back options. 
  1. Easy Integration with Customer Experience Systems: Customer service calls can be more proactive and intuitive when integrated with customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and automated call distribution (ACD)  systems. Voice agents have access to caller history, previous purchases, and other customer data based on the caller ID number. It provides enough pre-context to authenticate calls before call handovers to human representatives.

Read in Detail About–Digital Voice Agents: What, Why, and How 

  1. Timely, Useful Insights for Enhanced CX:  DVAs help brands adopt advanced analytics-driven approaches to unlock a treasure trove of insights on call performance as well as define relevant KPIs and areas for improvements in the customer’s journey for cost savings and better CX. IVRs need optimizations to deliver this capability. While DVAs work as productivity enhancers with timely insights that help add incremental value to the brand or business’ customer experience. 

Despite several detractors that customers unanimously agree on, IVR systems remain a staple in customer support. The worldwide growth rate of the IVR market is expected to reach $6.7 billion by 2026.  This growth trajectory can be a blessing to CTOs who chose IVRs for long-term customer service investments, but certainly a nightmare for CMOs against the backdrop of increasing customer calls. Technological innovation and AI-driven upgrades are needed to drive the progression of IVR systems. Until then, Voice AI helps empower businesses to elevate inbound and outbound initiatives for better CX in ways that IVR systems fail to live up to. 

Are you interested in contact center automation with our Digital Voice Agent to elevate customer experience?  Book a demo with one of our experts: www.skit.ai