London’s recent Call & Contact Centre Expo was home to a host of businesses selling solutions and services to keep customers happy with 20,000 visitors checking out the latest products. As those solutions expand to encompass the automated future, lots were talking about their chatbot powers.
Call centre operations is big business, large enough for the likes of Oracle, Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and plenty of others to be keynoting or presenting as they tout their vision of the future. That includes lots of big, expensive services delivering customer management and friendship tools among other trends, while encouraging all sizes of business to adopt AI and chatbot services.
Beyond the big brands, there are the likes of VoIPCloud offering a mere £3.99 per seat with a Google Chrome extension allowing contact agents to be located anywhere, far beyond the traditional office switchboard, ideal for small biz and startups. A vision that helps remind all businesses, no matter how small that every customer is important, and must be looked after.
Contact products expanding fast
Also showing off was Cirrus Response, a cloud contact centre solutions service provider with a range of new and upgraded products designed to automate and streamline the customer experience. Top of the list, Cirrus CAI manages text-based conversations, from web chats, SMS text, messenger or WhatsApp. It automates straightforward customer service and sales and unlike traditional bots, CAI uses a library of if…then typical responses, speeding up time to value, with a range of personas and tones of voice developed for different vertical markets.
Another product on show was CirrusTranslate, where customers pick the language of their choice and hear on-the-fly software-based translation. More cost effective than having a team of human translators, it also providies businesses with a way to expand into overseas markets. The new service supports 15 languages initially, including Russian, Japanese, Chinese Mandarin and a range of European languages.
Where only a few years ago there were fairly generic chatbot offerings, now voice services, AI-driven solutions are the norm and accessible to all type of customer.
Messages from the Show Floor
AI was all over the event floor in various forms, with a look at the call centre of the future that uses an “innovative suite of applications, open APIs and an orchestration layer, which will integrate into current call centre infrastructure. Combining new productivity-boosting digital channels, with AI, Machine Learning and intelligent automation.”
There were also reports on real-world examples and success stories, with Marriott Hotels adding Amazon’s Alexa as part of their new guest service. Guests can perform actions like control connected devices, order room service, book a spa appointment or ask any question and receive an instant answer.
Among the messages from the show were some familiar calls to action, from the “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it” refrain where chatbots help make data more accessible to improve not only the bot product, but also the breadth of customer support, with help available 24/7 in any language and moving from text to voice (or emoji where appropriate) across many more devices than the phone or PC.
Chatbots are also directly connecting to the call centre solution, creating a unified source of data and metrics. As bots get to know the customer better, they can offer more varied information and solutions to their problems, while offering them automated sales if needed and providing more ways for the business to add value to the conversation.
Being more proactive means smarter bots can also reach out to customers ahead of key deadlines like contract expiry or consumables running out, offering to automatically resign them, or to order whatever they need. Sooner or later the CRM, customer support and sales services will align, and the bot will offer everything needed for both sides.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.