IBM’s virtual agent, watsonx Assistant, is now available with an add-on option that is designed to connect to nearly every major contact center platform that uses the SIP protocol, including Genesys and NICE inContact, in as little as half an hour with no coding. Now, voice assistants built with watsonx Assistant’s no-code interface can answer customer calls within your call center to help increase first contact resolution and reduce hold times, and hand off to human agents when necessary. This improvement is possible thanks to a collaboration with IntelePeer, a leading Communications Platform-as-a-Service provider.

In addition, watsonx Assistant now offers an agent app add-on option that lets human agents on any contact center platform that uses the SIP protocol pick up the conversation where watsonx Assistant left off. The agent app displays the full conversation history between a user and watsonx Assistant, so neither the caller nor the agent starts from square one.

We released these add-on options to address a fundamental challenge with AI-powered telephone support: first contact resolution. Traditional interactive voice response systems, or IVRs, require users to navigate by touch tone. And frankly, it can be awful. Callers no longer want to press 1 for this, press 2 for that — they just want to say what they need and get their problem solved with one call. watsonx Assistant is designed with the capability to connect in as little as half an hour with no coding, provide phone numbers quickly to test and launch their assistant, and connect them to contact center platforms without help from engineers.   It empowers contact center administrators to create AI-powered voicebots with no coding, provision phone numbers in minutes to test and launch their assistant, and connect them to contact center platforms without help from engineers.

“The pandemic slammed my team at the State of Rhode Island Department of Health and we quickly realized that our outdated systems and smaller call centers were completely unequipped to handle the influx of phone calls from concerned citizens, forcing us to pull staff from all directions within the department,” said Kristine Campagna, chief operating officer of COVID-19 operations at Rhode Island’s Department of Health. “With IBM’s wealth of experience in AI, we were able to work together to seamlessly integrate watsonx Assistant into our call centers, helping us provide thousands of citizens in a matter of days with information about COVID-19.”

Connect to Genesys in as little as 30 minutes

Genesys offers cloud-based products that replace traditional contact center hardware, making it easy for companies of any size to start telephone support departments in the cloud. At IBM, we encounter many clients who already have Genesys, or are contemplating migrating their on-premise contact center to Genesys’ cloud-based platform.

That’s why we built an add-on option for watsonx Assistant to connect easily to Genesys Multicloud CX. There’s no need to write code. An administrator with access to both watsonx Assistant and Genesys simply enters configuration information that connects the systems together. Even our own internal beginner users with limited experience have completed the process in 30 minutes.

Once the systems are connected, watsonx Assistant can answer phone calls and provide support with its AI-powered voicebot. The benefit of a voicebot is that it can answer calls 24/7, so callers aren’t limited to business hours. As became apparent during the pandemic, call centers need backup from voicebots during periods of high volumes. Finally, IBM’s speech detection and natural language understanding does not require the dreaded touch-tone phone tree. If a human caller asks to speak with a human, watsonx Assistant passes the call along to a Genesys call dispatcher where an agent can pick up the conversation where watsonx Assistant left off.

Before this availability, most clients needed a team of telephony engineers and experts to set up the systems, and sometimes it took several weeks to complete the process. Now, watsonx Assistant is more compatible with modern IVRs and contact centers.

Easy connections to everything else

There are other great cloud-based contact center solutions including NICE inContact and Five9. What’s more, some clients prefer on-premise versions. watsonx Assistant can connect to these platforms and to virtually any contact center solution that uses SIP trunking.

The watsonx Assistant phone add-on option is built on SIP trunking, an industry standard that enables voice calls over the internet. This means that any call center platform that can open a public-facing SIP trunk can integrate easily with watsonx Assistant.

That said, every business is unique and there are undoubtedly systems and configurations that require something other than our solution. Not a problem — we’ve partnered with our friends at IntelePeer to bring telephony expertise to our customers.

IntelePeer under the hood

The IntelePeer Atmosphere Communications Platform-as-a-Service is now available as an add-on in watsonx Assistant so that users with a Plus and Enterprise plan can set up voice capabilities and a new phone number for a virtual agent quickly. In simple terms, IntelePeer offers a modern, API-driven way of delivering telephony and SMS connections without hardware. When you provision phone numbers within watsonx Assistant, it’s IntelePeer that provides the line. They also provide the connection between watsonx Assistant and the cloud-based contact center platforms through SIP. Plus, IntelePeer’s platform complements watsonx Assistant with additional software capabilities such as intelligent routing and outbound calling.

“Partnering with IBM to offer our Atmosphere CPaaS solution within watsonx Assistant is a major milestone and a tremendous opportunity,” said IntelePeer Senior Vice President of Business Development Frank Lauria. “Together with IBM we are working on a number of projects, including working with a large national pharmacy chain.”

The combined solution can be ordered on the IBM Cloud through a self-serve process with watsonx Assistant or as a custom-configured project for more complex projects. IntelePeer also provides enterprise communications and contact center expertise and assistance during the pre-sales and post-sales process for IBM sellers, so we can support our clients together.

The agent app

Last but certainly not least, we also launched agent app add on option. It’s a vital link between the caller, watsonx Assistant, and the contact center human agent.

In many cases, watsonx Assistant can handle caller questions and requests without human help. In some use cases, however, the call requires a human agent. In those instances, agent app provides a warm hand-off between Watson and the human agent. For example, if I call my bank to ask to postpone a loan payment, watsonx Assistant can answer my questions about eligibility, gather my information, and then pass me along to a human agent for final approval. In this scenario, I should not have to repeat my information to the agent; the agent should see it on the screen.

This is where the agent app comes in. It pipes the conversation you’ve had with watsonx Assistant to the human agent’s screen. At a glance the agent can catch up to the conversation and pick up where Watson left off.

The agent app works with Genesys and many other platforms. It is available for voicebots as well as digital chatbots.

Ready to get started?

All these features and add on options are currently available within the watsonx Assistant Plus plan. Get started today!

Get started with watsonx Assistant today.

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