August 15, 2019 | Written by: Keith Scales, Founder, Chatmantics
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We’ve all called a company’s customer service number only to be greeted by an interactive voice response (IVR) system.
The IVR will say to press one for this and two for that and so on. You must wait for the correct number to enter your account information “so that we may better serve you” but “please do not press zero as that will only delay your call.”
If you already know the correct button to press, some IVRs don’t even let you skip ahead. You’re instead forced to listen to the recording explain what company function is aligned with all 12 buttons on your telephone keypad.
People are more likely to interact with a brand or talk to a representative when they feel like there’s a conversation happening. Robotic IVR systems are the opposite of the genuine interactions customers want.
Chatmantics is a conversational automation platform that leaves IVRs in the dust. Chatmantics is helping companies integrate artificial intelligence (AI) assistants into their call centers to handle initial interactions with customers. AI assistants can take payments over the phone, qualify people for a specific service, help them with support issues and more.
Creating a call center IVR alternative with IBM Cloud
We had a cloud-first strategy out the gate because we knew that it would allow us to be nimble and dynamic in how we built our platform. We looked at various cloud providers, but IBM was always at the top of the list because of Watson, which I view as having brought on the whole AI age. After looking at the features of the IBM Watson platform, we discovered more of the IBM Cloud capabilities that we really liked, including a full set of plug-and-play API options.
We also liked the hybrid cloud options that IBM offers. These enable us to stay disciplined in the DevOps methodology. We can maintain not only private and public clouds, but also clouds on different platforms. This means we can develop, test and perform quality assurance in separate clouds before we release our solution into production.
We use IBM Watson Assistant and IBM Watson Voice Agent for two-way communication, and IBM Watson Studio to analyze how our AI assistants are performing with users. We store and transform data in a data warehouse and then visualize it to show our clients.
The IBM Cloud Kubernetes Service helps us virtualize, scale and maintain the reliability of our platform, especially when there are large spikes in traffic or lots of clients onboarding at the same time.
Without IBM Cloud, it likely would have taken at least a year and a half to get a live AI assistant platform and a live analytics product. We were able to orchestrate multiple services from the IBM Cloud Catalog, which helped us to go live within three months of planning the initial platform.
Improving customer experience and call center productivity with AI
Using a Chatmantics AI assistant is far more efficient than IVR. People are always going to try to go around an IVR to get to a live person. Our AI assistant knows that and simply talks to callers, asking them to answer some questions without pressing any buttons. We can create a customized intent to pull up many different nuances about why people want to talk to a customer service rep before they are routed to the correct specialist.
Our AI assistant can also stop ill-intent calls with customers who swear or just come across as hostile. We use IBM Watson Natural Language Understanding to understand sentiment and determine if a call should be ended without unleashing an insulting, angry customer on a call center agent.
Anybody can use an AI assistant to talk to customers, but without any real insight as to what is actually happening or what it all means, we don’t know how it’s working or how to optimize it if we need to make adjustments. This is where our analytics capabilities help our clients better evaluate call center customer engagements. We also use analytics to help our clients determine if an AI assistant is even justified for their call center in the first place.
Chatmantics is an AI-driven company, and that’s the future we anticipate for the call center services industry as a whole. AI assistants eliminate human error, human deviation, fraud and privacy issues. An AI-first strategy is the most cost-effective and reliable strategy to scale for growth and serve customers.
See the video and case study for more details.