All customers want when they call a company for help is to have their problem solved in one session as quickly as possible. They don’t want over-the-top service, they want resolution.

That’s why first contact resolution (FCR) is one of the most important metrics in customer care, and why high FCR is correlated with customer loyalty, according to Harvard Business Review.

At IBM we’ve taken this to heart. We’ve released several features in watsonx Assistant to enable our AI to answer common customer questions through any voice or digital channels, to gracefully transfer more complex questions to a human, and to help the human agent find answers quickly and correctly.

In addition to FCR, we have learned that our clients want a consolidated view of their external and internal help requests. And they need a conversational AI platform that can keep up with rapidly expanding traffic and varieties of help requests.

Here’s how watsonx Assistant is meeting these market challenges.

Better first contact resolution

During conversations, customers occasionally need a bit more assistance. watsonx Assistant has a number of techniques to keep them on the right path. It takes several techniques, capabilities and features to resolve customer problems in one shot.

Web chat: Deploying a web chat client is the first step to enabling non-voice channels. watsonx Assistant’s web chat client can be configured and set up in minutes with no code. It comes with a simple, beautiful interface that can be customized to match the look and feel of your website.

Home screen: This feature gives users a preview of what they can ask and do in the web chat. It makes users confident that they can get the help they need. In tests, we’ve seen a 50% increase in first-time engagement when using the home screen.

Disambiguation: This feature makes sure that users never get stuck. If they ask an ambiguous question, watsonx Assistant will prompt for clearer queries that match intents that it understands. For example, if a banking customer says “I am traveling,” watsonx Assistant can ask “Are you looking to setup a travel alert or do you need useful travel tips?”

Speech customization: watsonx Assistant also handles voice calls. The accuracy of speech transcriptions from user conversations is critical. We now offer three speech customization techniques to ensure the assistant can always understand users: language model customization, acoustic model customization, and grammar customization. This is important for communicating naturally and accurately with customers from different cultures and with a variety of regional dialects.

Search skill: Sometimes, the answer to a user’s question lies deep inside manuals, policies, or documentation. The search skill connects to Watson Discovery, our enterprise search engine, which can digitize any document and find specific facts and answers — for example, a PDF document with a user guide, or a periodically updated term sheet with pricing tables.

Bridging the fragmented support technology stack

When it doesn’t know how to resolve an issue, or when a customer needs a human touch, watsonx Assistant routes the customer directly to the right agent with the right skills.

Our clients frequently use three or more support solutions to help external customers and internal employees. watsonx Assistant unifies these platforms and augments their capabilities to provide a seamless journey without making the customer switch channels, restart their line of questions or jump from department to department. It achieves this with three capabilities:

Service desk integrations and live agent handoff: We include out-of-the-box integrations with Zendesk and Salesforce, two of the most popular help desk platforms. If watsonx Assistant’s AI can’t answer the user’s questions, or if they ask for an agent, Watson can transfer the user to a live session with a human.

Bring your own service desk: This feature lets companies integrate watsonx Assistant with almost any platform including Twilio, Genesys, Avaya, NICE inContact, and many others.

Webhooks: The webhooks framework lets watsonx Assistant connect with almost any back-end system, tool, or application. It enables Watson to perform tasks or transactions on the user’s behalf in addition to answering their questions. For example, a customer might want to verify their account balance. The virtual assistant can present the security interface to that system, and then respond with the account balance.

Low time to value and easy scalability

The COVID-19 epidemic highlighted the need for customer care platforms that can be set up rapidly, but that can scale to handle huge volumes of traffic and varieties of questions. Organizations across all industries suddenly had to answer an unexpected spike in calls and chats dealing with questions about an entirely new topic. Our clients were able to meet that challenge with watsonx Assistant’s self-learning capabilities, deployed consistently across voice and digital channels in weeks or even days.

Intent recommendations: watsonx Assistant can analyze call or chat logs to understand what customers are asking most about. You upload the logs and the system automatically recommends intents, saving days or weeks of work. This not only saves the valuable time of your subject experts; it also delivers a better experience for your customers based on insights otherwise hidden within your unstructured data.

Suggestions and autolearning: As customers interact with watsonx Assistant, it improves itself automatically. If a customer isn’t sure where to go next, watsonx Assistant presents the most relevant options to the user. Based on the collective selections across all customer interactions, the assistant re-ranks the options and eventually points users to the intent directly, without asking for clarification.

Omnichannel: watsonx Assistant is now an omnichannel conversational AI platform that can handle web chat, voice and SMS channels. The new watsonx Assistant Plus plan even combines digital and voice pricing, so you don’t have to guess how customers will interact with you — each engagement is treated the same.

You can learn more about watsonx Assistant by trying the features yourself via the free trial. IBM is also offering watsonx Assistant via the IBM public cloud for production use at no charge for 60 days to qualifying organizations, with no commitment required after the free period ends.

Get the AI-powered assistant your customers need to succeed; explore the new watsonx Assistant features now.

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