IBM launches new market leading capabilities for customer service AI with Watson Assistant

By | 5 minute read | October 21, 2019

Today, we’re happy to announce new innovations that further advance our Watson Anywhere approach to scale AI across any cloud helping you provide better customer service AI. This idea comes to life with IBM’s Cloud Pak for Data platform now certified on Red Hat OpenShift. The platform allows you to run all Watson products including Watson Assistant, IBM’s conversational AI product, on the IBM Cloud or clouds from other vendors, including Amazon, Google, and Microsoft – as well as on-premises environments. You are no longer locked into cloud vendors or deployment channels to ensure the best customer service AI experience.

In addition to Watson Anywhere, IBM continues to innovate and make breakthrough changes with Watson Assistant. Studies show friendly employees or customer service representatives are what make a memorable experience – in fact that positive interaction is what causes 73% of consumers to stick with a brand. Businesses are no longer competing with other companies’ products – they are competing with a customer’s last great experience. There’s a growing opportunity to deliver that white glove customer experience by integrating AI virtual agents to create a personalized touch. Watson Assistant’s new features are designed to provide the positive, memorable experience just like your customer service representative. Here are some of the breakthrough changes we’re introducing.

Give your customers the right experience – out of the box

Building a great customer service AI experience for customers is hard. Humans like to digress, have ambiguous questions, unclear communication, and have expectations of fast and quick answers to their problems. Chatbots also won’t address all customer issues, so customers have to understand how to build a seamless customer service AI experience of self-service automation with human agents. And organizations are left to their own devices to figure out how to create these experiences. But, why? Shouldn’t we meet our customers where they are at?

Now you can. Available in open beta, Watson Assistant is introducing an out of the box chat interface designed, based on years of research, to get your customer to the outcome they’re looking for without getting stuck or frustrated.

Most chat interfaces are built around a human to human interaction. Not Watson Assistant. Our interface is built from the ground up with an assistant AND human in mind. This assistant interface enables your customers to seamlessly transition from a conversation to a complex search to human agent escalation as a part of our overall experience. What’s also unique about the new experience is that we know certain topics (e.g. cancel a service) require a human, so we’ve built human agent escalation right in. With Watson Assistant, we’ve designed it so if your customer is in a long queue (e.g. 19 of 19) waiting for a human agent, she can continue to solve the problem with the assistant while waiting. When the human agent is available the user will be then be notified. What’s more, we’ve made the setup easy. We’ve built connectors to leading Customer Service platforms including Intercom, LivePerson (November, beta), Zendesk (November, beta), so you can configure and deploy in minutes.

Plug a conversational AI experience right into your phone

“Press 1 for appointments, Press 2 for billing inquiries”. Sound familiar? Most of us have experienced this problem in our everyday interactions with brands. Bottom line, we’re all tired of robotic call center menus and long wait queues. There must be a better way.

Now with Watson Assistant for Voice Interaction customers can ask their questions in natural language at the “main menu” when they call in, rather than listening to a multitude of options– fast-tracking them to the right answer. Moreover, using AI, organizations now have the ability to broaden their self-service coverage further reducing the call volume into their contact centres. And IBM is the only provider who enables voice and SMS communication simultaneously – giving you the ability to provide your end users with a customer service AI experience they trust and feel confident using. Finally, we know you’ve made investments in existing Contact Center platforms. No problem. You can connect to your contact center platforms or voice provider that you use today. Our voice integrations include: AT&T, Cisco, Avaya, Genesys, Blueworx, Content Guru, IntelePeer, and Nexmo the Vonage API Platform.

Use your data to speed building and improving your assistant

Once your assistant is live and generating thousands or possibly millions of customers interactions, how do you quickly see new topics your customers are talking about or strengthen existing topics you’ve already defined within your training data? Historically, the process of crawling through log data to improve your conversational AI has been an arduous process.

Well, we’ve made it much faster to glean insights from your log data to improve your assistant. Today, using machine learning, you can upload human to human chat logs into Watson Assistant and it will automatically identify potential new topics as well as provide recommendations to strengthen your existing training data. Coming in November, Watson Assistant will also allow you to use the logs from your assistant! So instead of manually combing through your log data, Watson Assistant will dramatically speed your knowledge of new topics your customers are discussing.

Learn more about how enterprises are using Watson Assistant to empower customers, employees, and agents here or get started with Watson Assistant free.

Here’s a quick summary of the features I discussed to improve your customer service AI:

Prebuilt chat interface (Open Beta): Creating a chat interface takes months and building a truly meaningful conversational AI experience for your customers can take even longer. Take advantage of our new prebuilt chat interface, based on years of research, to get your customer to the outcome they’re looking for without getting stuck or frustrated. Deploy in minutes.

Watson Assistant for Voice Interaction (GA): Allow your customers to ask questions in natural language through the phone/IVR – fast-tracking them to the answer. You can also blend texting and voice simultaneously for instant information exchange.

Digital and voice customer service platform connectors: Watson Assistant also works with the platforms you already use. Our one-click integrations seamlessly connect with digital and voice platforms, preserving your current investments. Digital integrations include: Intercom (GA), LivePerson(coming November, beta), and Zendesk (coming November, beta). GA Voice integrations include: AT&T, Cisco, Avaya, Genesys, Blueworx, Content Guru, IntelePeer, and Nexmo the Vonage API Platform

Expanded AI Recommendations (Coming in November, Open Beta): Now Watson, using your assistant chat logs, automatically helps you find new topics your customers are talking about, enabling you to quickly expand the coverage of your assistant