Enabling intelligent self-service with Watson and Gintel

Increasing the use of digital services can enhance customer satisfaction, because they can be much, much smarter than old IVR-driven models of customer self-service. By integrating voice platforms, such as Gintel’s Easy Business Communication Suite with solutions such as IBM’s Watson, new forms of interaction can be created, delivering more efficient customer service while also reducing costs.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are trying to optimise processes through the increased use of digital technologies, such as automation, data analytics, machine learning and big data projects. For those that need to interact directly with customers, increasing automation while ensuring personal services has become a challenge. It’s a paradox – on the one hand, they want to deliver better, more personalised experiences; on the other, they want to increase customer self-service so as to reduce costs and to increase efficiency. It can seem as if increasing automation will reduce the levels of personal service offered, which could be counter-productive.

One solution to this is to be smarter about what, when and how to automate. Instead of pushing customers exclusively to automated systems, businesses are thinking constructively about the best use of automation within the context of the service they offer. They want customers to benefit from talking to a skilled agent, but they want to streamline the process and offload some of the data collection before connecting callers to a real person.

That may not sound new – IVR has been used for filtering calls for years – but new AI-based speech processing solutions are set to dramatically change the way in which businesses deliver customer service. They offer the opportunity to allow businesses to offer a conversational-like experience to callers, in order to capture selected information that will guide the next step in the customer service journey.

For example, one of our customers has integrated our Easy Business Communications Suite (EBCS) with IBM’s Watson, as well as a rich CRM system. In this case, when incoming calls to the service centre are first answered, data regarding caller identity, profiles and more can easily be retrieved. In turn, this can be used to create a unique dialogue with Watson.

Watson generates specific questions, the answers to which can be checked against records in the customer profile, held in the CRM, to enable further information to be collected. As a result, the first level of service can be delivered automatically, but with an experience that far exceeds that offered by traditional IVR solutions.

The initial use case for this integration is a to provide triage and authentication for a managed property security service, the aim being to reduce the burden on agents and to enable them to offer more specialised support to customers. However, this is just the start.

The same principles (combining natural language interaction, data retrieval and validation, and cloud-PBX / ACD functions) will support a host of other applications. For example, online chat with an automated bot from a website prior to connection to a live agent, pre-screening in an inbound call centre, and so on.

Other customers are taking a similar approach – one is exploring ways in which RCS chatbots can accelerate and enhance customer service in hosted offers for its customers, for example. The idea is not to use automation to replace human interaction but to supplement it and extend it in ways that complement and enhance the experience, while avoiding the pitfalls of traditional IVR and voice processing platforms. They want to deliver a better experience and to optimise processes while making the most of automation, not use it to simply to cut costs.

As such, we can expect to see an ongoing revolution in the way service is delivered. This depends, however, on the close integration of core platforms, such as Gintel’s EBCS solution, with new solutions, such as IBM’s Watson, and customer data repositories, such as CRM platforms.

Our customers have already begun this journey and are launching innovative new services that enable new levels of customer interaction. They help optimise resource allocation and reduce costs, while increasing the efficiency of service delivery – and, crucially, while enhancing customer satisfaction. Interested? Why not get in touch and find out how Gintel is powering new forms of digital and human interaction.

Tags: Easy Business Communications Suite IVR Cloud PBX CRM Watson

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