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The cognitive future of customer service with IBM Voice Gateway

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What’s the future of customer service? Your call center is frequently where your customers experience your company. So what can you do to make that experience as positive as possible?

In my last blog, I described how cognitive capabilities have transformed interactive voice response (IVR) systems. Cognitive IVR systems rely on artificial intelligence (AI) to understand and communicate with callers. The AI can be trained to detect the caller’s intent, speeding issue resolution. Because the system has been trained on language and acoustic models, it can understand many different voices and contexts. Speech-to-text and automatic speech recognition can handle domain-specific words and dialects.

Recently, IBM announced the IBM Voice Gateway. It essentially turns Watson into a cognitive IVR system. IBM Voice Gateway can be used to build virtual cognitive agents that communicate with customers using natural language. Through the orchestration of several cognitive services including Watson Speech to Text, Watson Text to Speech and Watson Conversation, the new IBM Voice Gateway provides a key integration point between cognitive self-service agents and your call center operations.

How does Voice Gateway accomplish this exactly? By enabling a callable session initiation protocol (SIP) application that can be connected to from a variety of sources, including SIP Trunks—for example, Twilio’s SIP Trunking service, Session Border Controllers or virtually any enterprise telephony device that communicates using the SIP protocol.

Think of Voice Gateway as a next-generation, cloud-native, standalone, cognitive IVR system. It includes features you would expect from a traditional IVR system, such as touch tone support and the ability to play music on hold. But beyond these traditional features, the solution makes it easy to develop virtual agents that understand natural language.

You may be wondering how Voice Gateway integrates with traditional IVRs that are programmed using voice XML from vendors like Avaya or Cisco. IVR systems are typically designed to support the ability to transfer out to other SIP endpoints like ACDs or specific SIP URIs. Voice Gateway is just another SIP application that you program into an existing IVR to transfer out to or conference into a call. You can also route directly into Voice Gateway from a SIP trunk or Session Border Controller.

One challenge to address is how to share context between IVR systems. For example, if a call starts in a traditional IVR that collects information from the caller, it may be necessary to share that information with the cognitive IVR system. With IBM Voice Gateway, you can share contexts through an exchange of metadata in the SIP signaling using the User-to-user (UUI) header. The metadata can contain the actual context or point to the data in a separate context store.

Callers want personalization, a key feature in next-generation call automation systems. Consumers expect that a company will remember their past interactions and use them to provide better customer support. IBM Voice Gateway is customizable through a Service Orchestration layer to modify responses to queries through systems of record APIs to add personalization capabilities.

Through IBM Voice Gateway with Watson services, you can bring next-generation call automation into your organization. You can drive down costs of running traditional IVRs and drastically improve your customers’ satisfaction.

Are you ready to get started? Register for the IBM Voice Gateway webcast on June 6th and discover how you can bring this cognitive call center solution to life in your organization.

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