Reaching more customers with Contact Center AI: 2021 Wrap-up
Lead Developer Advocate, Google
Product Marketing Manager
2021 has been a high-stakes year for call centers, with many organizations forced to rapidly scale up their call center operations in response to ongoing pandemic disruptions. We’re proud that 2021 has also been an amazing year for Google Cloud’s Contact Center AI (CCAI), which has helped our customers adapt and thrive, despite the challenging conditions.
Beginning in January, we launched Dialogflow CX in GA. Agent Assist preview was released in May. Most recently, CCAI Insights GA was announced at Google Cloud NEXT in October. During NEXT, we shared lots of great content on how you can use CCAI to improve your customer experience with these breakout sessions:
But don’t just take our word for it. We also got a chance to hear how some companies are using CCAI to better reach their own customers, including The Home Depot, TELUS, and Love Holidays. We partnered with CDW to discuss transforming the contact center with AI and with Quantiphi on how to migrate from Dialogflow EX to CX. Our integration with Looker Block also makes CCAI Insights even more powerful by visualizing contact center metrics. Over the summer, we hosted a Dialogflow CX competition with more than 1,100 participants. Just last month, we showed how we’ve enabled businesses to use AI in their interactions using Google Business Messages. Looking to the future, we talked about the future in our article,“Reimagining your Customer Experience with Conversational AI.”
Amwell, a U.S.-based telehealth company that is launching CCAI, including the recently launched CCAI Insights, is among the enterprises harnessing AI to transform its call centers. “With Contact Center AI, we aim to digitize our support for improved operational eﬃciency and elevated analytics capabilities, while enhancing the customer experience for patients, providers, and staff,” says Paul Johnson, SVP Client Services at Amwell. “Contact Center AI Insights will allow Amwell to better understand why our platform users are reaching out to support and how they feel about the overall experience – valuable insights for our support organization.”
As we recap the momentum of CCAI for 2021, it’s also a good time to review exactly how CCAI works.
What is CCAI?
As the volume of customer calls increases, it’s becoming even more important to make the most of human agents' time to lower costs and improve customer experiences. CCAI enables you to do just that: it frees human agents to concentrate on more complex calls by providing them with real-time information to better handle those calls.
Single source of intelligence: Contact Center AI provides a consistent, high-quality conversational experience across all channels and platforms, both human and virtual. Because the “brains” of CCAI are centralized in the cloud, you can apply consistent intelligence across every application in the customer journey.
Ability to go off-script: Huge cost savings can be realized by having a virtual agent handle voice calls. This is easier said than done, however, because conversations rarely are completely linear; instead, they meander from topic to topic, which is difficult to handle programmatically in a fixed-path Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system.
Contact Center AI has the ability to go “off script” — to let callers go down tangents or side paths to the main conversation, while still tracking towards the main objective of the call. With CCAI, your virtual agents can answer complex questions and complete complicated tasks, including allowing for unexpected stops and starts, unusual word choices, or implied meanings. Developers can define supplemental questions, and CCAI can easily retain the context, answer the supplemental question, and come back to the main flow.
Versatile fulfillment: CCAI has the ability to handle multiple use cases for the customer with the same virtual agent, which enables you to fully automate routine tasks and deflect calls. The same virtual agent can take a payment, update information like a phone number, give a customer information on their balance, and process information for other tasks, all within the same conversational flow.
How does CCAI work?
CCAI has three key components:
Conversation Core: This is the central AI brain that underpins CCAI and its ability to understand, talk, and interact. It enables and orchestrates high-quality conversational experiences at scale making it possible for customers to have conversations with a virtual agent that are as good as conversations with a human agent.
Understand - Speech-to-text speech recognition understands what customers are saying regardless of how they phrase things, what vocabulary they use, what accent they have, and so on.
Talk - Text-to-speech enables virtual agents to respond to customers in a natural, human-like manner that pushes the conversation along, rather than frustrate them.
Interact - Dialogflow identifies customer intent and determines the appropriate next step. You can build conversational flows in a point-and-click interface, and generate automated ML models for human-like conversational experiences.
Virtual agents with Dialogflow: This component automates interactions with customers, using natural conversation to identify and address their issues. Virtual agents enable customers to get immediate help anytime, day or night. Agent Assist: This component brings AI to human agents to increase the quality of their work, while decreasing their average handling time. Agent Assist shares initial context and provides real-time, turn-by-turn guidance to coach agents through business processes, as well as full call transcriptions that agents can edit and file quickly.
CCAI Insights: CCAI Insights aids your contact center management team in making better data driven decisions for their business by breaking down conversations using natural language processing and machine learning. Having this information allows your business to reduce manual analysis and focus on decision making like which conversations need your attention, where to deploy virtual agent automation to have the biggest impact and how to address your customer needs.
How does CCAI create experiences for agents and customers?
When a user initiates a chat or voice call and the contact center provider connects them with CCAI, a virtual agent engages with the user, understands their intent, and fulfills the request by connecting to the backend. If necessary, the call can be handed off to a human agent, who sees the transcript of the interaction with the virtual agent, gets feedback from the knowledge base to respond to queries in real time, and receives a summary of the call at the end. Insights help you understand what happened during the virtual agent and live agent sessions. The result is improved customer experiences and CSAT scores, lower agent handling times, and more time for human agents to spend on more complicated customer issues.