July 3, 2018 | Written by: Thomas Banks
Categorized: Integration | Watson | What's New
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Bring Watson powered chat bots to your call centers today with the Voice Agent with Watson service on the IBM Cloud.
Cognitive chatbots are changing the way businesses are interacting with their customers. Whether embedded in a webpage, or talking to users via a mobile application, Watson powered cognitive bots are resolving queries quickly and efficiently.
In order to help you better leverage this powerful technology IBM has released the Voice Agent with Watson service on the IBM Cloud in the US South and US East regions. Businesses can use the Voice Agent with Watson to quickly build Watson powered chat bots (Voice Agents) and connect them to the telephone network.
Voice Agent with Watson
We’d like to inform you that the Voice Agent with Watson service became generally available (GA) on 26th June, 2018. With the service it is easy to create and manage Watson Assistant powered Voice Agents – chat bots which end users can converse with over the phone. Through connecting Speech To Text, Text To Speech, and Watson Assistant, Watson is able to identify what a caller is saying and to respond back in real time. As Watson Assistant is able to process natural language it is able to converse with callers using complete sentences, helping to improve the experience for callers.
The Voice Agent with Watson service provides these key capabilities needed to bring Watson to the phone network:
- Orchestration between Watson Speech and Assistant services to create a solution where Watson can hear, identify, and respond to a caller’s query
- Connectivity to the telephone network and call center systems using the SIP protocol. This makes it easy to use web based telephony services as well as call centers with on-premises systems
- Dynamic configuration – change the Watson service connected to a caller in real-time. Change languages, speech to text voices, and the Watson Assistance conversation space the Voice Agent service is able to adapt to using new services during a live call
- Scale to speak to multiple callers at the same time – each Voice Agent can scale to talk to as many callers at the same time as you need (this is limited to 5 concurrent calls with the trial account)
- Multiple agents for different tasks – create multiple Voice Agents which answer calls to different telephone numbers. This allows you to manage your ordering line, customer service, and business to business sales all with one service instance
- Personalise Watson’s interactions with callers – create web applications which can connect to the Voice Agent service and Watson Assistant to your customer service systems – look up a customer’s name so that Watson can address them personally, or allow Watson Assistant to look up information from their account
Self-service Voice Agents
Voice Agents can act as a self-service solution to solve the most common calls entering your call center. By answering the main volume of calls with Voice Agents businesses can resolve calls more quickly. This results in a reduction to the volume of calls sent to human agents. A self-service voice agent can request a call transfer to a different SIP endpoint (such as a human agent queue) at any time, allowing Watson to transfer calls is necessary.
Use the Voice Agent with Watson service in the IBM Cloud to create a Watson powered Voice Agent in minutes – you can find it, along with getting started instructions, in the IBM Cloud catalog.
The Voice Agent with Watson service is available with lite and standard pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) tiers. Lite users are limited to 2 concurrent connections and 100 call minutes of usage per month, and cannot exceed that usage unless upgrading to the standard plan. Standard plan users have 2 concurrent connections and up to 1,000 call minutes per month for free, after which point additional charges apply for both concurrent connections and call minutes. Call minutes have a graduated pricing structure:
- Usage between 0 and 1,000 call minutes per month: free
- Usage between 1,001 and 250,000 call minutes per month: $0.12 per minute
- Usage between 250,001 and 500,000 call minutes per month: $0.09 per minute
- Usage between 500,001 and 1,000,000 call minutes per month: $0.07 per minute
- Usage above 1,000,000 call minutes per month: $0.05 per minute
In addition to call minutes the service charges on peak concurrent connections (the number of concurrent phone calls connected to the service):
- Each concurrent connection beyond the 2 free concurrent connections is $20 per month, pro-rated to a daily amount based on each days’ peak concurrent connections
Migrating from experimental and beta service instances
End of Beta Date: 26th June 2018
As of 26th June 2018, new Voice Agent with Watson Beta instances could not be provisioned. Existing instances will be migrated to the GA service with their existing configuration and current service plan selected.
End of Beta Support Date: 2nd August, 2018
For a period of 37 days after the End of Beta Date, through 2nd August 2018, all existing instances will continue to be available on the Services dashboard in the IBM Cloud console. Users with instances of the Voice Agent with Watson service created during the beta or experimental phases of the service will need to take the following steps to continue to be able to use the service after the End of Beta Support Date.
Service instances created during both the beta and experimental releases will need to change their service plans to either the lite or standard plans by the End of Beta Support Date. Any service instances which do not have their plans changed to either the lite or standard plan by the End of Beta Support Date will be deleted. If you do not wish to use one of the new service plans you can continue to use your existing service instance until the End of Beta Support Date, at which point the instance will be deleted.
Services created during the experimental release of the Voice Agent with Watson will also need to update their SIP trunk to connect to new endpoints in the Voice Agent with Watson service – you can see the new SIP endpoints for the service by visiting the “getting started” tab in your service instance. The endpoint which was available during the experimental release will be shut down on the End of Beta Support Date.
To learn more, please register for our Voice Agent with Watson webcast.