Artificial Intelligence Can Make Unified Communications Smarter

These days, the customer holds all the cards. They want products and services at a certain time, at a certain place, in a certain way. They want questions answered and issues addressed immediately, without waiting or repeating themselves. Fail to deliver and customers won’t hesitate to take their business elsewhere. Organizations are under pressure to not only meet these demands, but optimize every customer interaction.

How can each interaction be made as seamless and frictionless as possible? What processes can be automated to improve both efficiency and outcomes? What data can be gleaned from each interaction and leveraged to further enhance the customer experience, create sales opportunities, and increase customer loyalty?

Not surprisingly, as artificial intelligence (AI) tools have become more widely available, organizations are looking to use AI to make their contact centers “smarter.” In fact, some experts say AI is among the top trends in unified communications (UC). AI can help organizations optimize workflows, improve decision-making, and predict and plan for various scenarios.

The concept of AI has been around for decades. It was first introduced in the 1950s as a computer science discipline. However, AI technologies that give machines the ability to learn, reach conclusions, and self-correct — or behave like humans — are starting to be used in a corporate setting to enhance UC.

For example, chatbots can handle simple information gathering and answer standard questions, allowing human agents to focus on more complex issues. Speech recognition technology can transcribe speech in a format that can be recognized and analyzed by applications. Deep-learning platforms can detect and classify behavioral and communication patterns, while text analytics and natural language processing tools can be used to better understand communication meaning and intent.

AI can also be used to improve the customer experience. By learning attributes of both customers and agents, AI can help organizations choose the customer’s desired communication channel and match a customer with the agent who is most likely to produce the best outcome.

Speech recognition tools can recognize keywords that will trigger certain actions, such as bringing in a supervisor to assist with a customer service call, or sending an automated message to the customer via text, email or voicemail. In a healthcare setting, AI can even be used to recognize the warning signs of a medical emergency. AI-enabled social messaging applications provide organizations with new ways to engage customers with relevant, timely information and personalized offers.

As the business value of collaboration is increasingly recognized and prioritized, more organizations are looking at ways to use AI to support collaborative processes that are carried out via UC. For example, AI could automatically discover and gather documents needed for a meeting or project instead of requiring all participants to handle those tasks manually. During a live meeting, an interactive voice interface could respond to a query for specific documents and make them available in near real time instead of pausing the meeting while someone tracks down the files. Similar to contact center uses cases, AI would handle routine tasks so humans can focus on higher-level decisions.

Although AI services are very much in their infancy, the potential is too great to be dismissed. Organizations should keep an eye out for new AI services from UC vendors and start thinking about how such services can be used to improve business workflows and processes, the customer experience and collaboration.