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Humanlike conversation with a robot. How voicebots defeat voice automation

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Gone are the days when a call to a company helpdesk provided you with direct contact with an operator or other live employee. Their places in companies’ contact and call centers are now occupied by technological solutions that save companies costs and staff capacity.

With such a phone call, you will most often encounter the IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system today. Or, if you are more fortunate, a quicker and friendlier AI voicebot. But what are its benefits, and why you don’t have to worry about talking to artificial intelligence?

Is it a robot, or is it a person?

But what exactly is a smart voicebot? It is a solution that uses artificial intelligence, natural language processing, and machine learning technologies to communicate with the customer similarly to a human operator. Voicebot is similar to its more well-known relatives – chatbots. The most significant difference is that instead of written text it communicates in the form of sound, i.e. the human voice. Large call centers and helpdesks can no longer exist without it or IVR.

Voicebots are on duty for 24 hours a day and can independently deal with various tasks, gradually increasing the capacity of contact centers. Thanks to their capabilities, which are constantly improved, voicebots have received a lot of attention lately and are used in various companies globally. Both global corporations and startups – such as the Czech company Born Digital – are involved in its development.

Humanlike conversation with a robot. How voicebots defeat voice automation image 31
Photo by Jehyun Sung on Unsplash

Older and slower sibling named IVR

The biggest competitor, as well as a solution that is often mistaken with voicebots, are IVR machines. But they are older and commonly less interactive and user-friendly. Communication with such an automaton takes place by voice, but rather than a conversation, it is a voice-controlled passage through a prepared network of options. “It is the unattractiveness of IVR for customers, that turned the focus towards text and chatbots. But with the advent of intelligent assistants like Alexa or Siri, people have regained their desire to communicate by voice. And just at that moment came the time of AI voicebots,” says Born Digital PR manager Marek Hadrbolec The following lines show how these solutions are more capable than IVR and how they improve communication not only for companies but especially for people.

The differences are obvious

Imagine, for example, that your internet does not work at home. If you call technical support and your provider uses IVR, the conversation will look like this. First, you get to choose from several reasons why you’re calling, none of which are likely to be appropriate for your problem. Once you select one of the options, a slow, robotic voice will give you a couple of other options to refine your request. To choose one again you have to, for example, press a number key.

Then the IVR will transfer you to the operator. After the annoying melody is over and the operator picks up the phone, you describe in your own words what trouble you have, after which the operator apologizes with the words that he will connect you to the right person. Another wait accompanied by an irritating melody, and only then the opportunity to finally solve your problem. At that moment, however, you do not have much patience left.

Humanlike conversation with a robot. How voicebots defeat voice automation image 32
Photo by Todd MacDonald on Unsplash

If your ISP has invested in an AI voicebot, the whole call will be completely different. First, the system introduces itself to you in a pleasant, almost human voice and asks about your problem. “You do not choose from the preset options, but you describe what technical difficulties you face in your own words. A properly developed voicebot will understand your speech and transform it into meaningful information about your situation,” explains Born Digital director Tomáš Malovec

The next step will probably be for the voicebot to suggest one of the solutions that it evaluates as accurate and give you instructions on how to apply it. If his suggestion doesn’t help, the voicebot can provide another. If the fundamental solutions are not working, and the technology gets into trouble, it does not force you to repeat the tasks or prolong the call. Instead, it redirects you to an experienced operator who will be competent to solve your problem. So you don’t have to worry about further switching.

Humanlike conversation with a robot. How voicebots defeat voice automation image 33
Photo by Phillip Glickman on Unsplash

The winner takes it all

Now it is clear why AI voicebots revive customers lost confidence in voice communication. The main reason is that voicebot, just like a skilled human operator, adapts to your language, while the IVR cannot adopt this way. Voicebots are not alive, but they still deliver natural conversation, which is interactive and straightforward. Thanks to this, it is much easier to reach the core of the problem.

Compared to IVR, voicebots are also much more independent and able to solve problems on their own or even learning to solve new ones. “The bots often collect anonymized data about the conversation flow. With these rich sources of information, it is easy to improve their conversation system to be even more productive,” adds Hadrbolec.

Voicebots defeat IVR even in tight situations. Thanks to understanding your problem in more detail, it will much more likely connect you to the right operator. So if your call is answered by a voicebot, don’t worry. The worst thing that can happen is that after a short period of uncertainty, you end up in the hands of an experienced human operator who will solve your problems.

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