Call Centers

New AI Tool Distinguishes Between What Customers Say and What They Mean

Genesys on Monday unveiled a new integration between its customer management solution, Genesys PureCloud, and Amazon Lex at the annual AWS re:Invent conference, ongoing in Las Vegas through Friday.

The integration will help businesses build and maintain conversational interactive voice response flows that route callers more efficiently, by using artificial intelligence to recognize not only what consumers are saying, but also their intent.

“Amazon Lex is a natural language understanding service that can decipher intents from natural human communication based on trained models and capture data slots,” said Olivier Jouve, executive vice president of Genesys PureCloud.

The Amazon Lex integration will help Genesys PureCloud users harness information on customer intent within an IVR flow, he told CRM Buyer.

What PureCloud Users Will be Able to Do

Users will be able to consolidate multiple interactions into one that can be applied over different self-service channels, which will simplify contact center administration and support.

Customers will be able to activate the integration from within PureCloud and configure the integration access to their AWS services, Jouve said.

A new toolkit then will be available within the inbound call flow designer; it will let users select a Lexbot from their AWS account and automatically import information into PureCloud.

Costs for using the Amazon Lex services will show up on the customer’s existing AWS account bill.

Genesys has targeted inbound voice IVR as its initial focus, Jouve said, and it will add outbound and messaging channels later.

Building chatbots with Lex will provide access to the AWS stack and the AWS Infrastructure as a Service deployment, noted Holger Mueller, a principal analyst at Constellation Research, “but that may not be a strength.”

A bank trying to build a chatbot with stringent data privacy and residency statutes, for example, might “want to deploy an on-premises chatbot framework,” he told CRM Buyer.

Brave New Chatbot World

Every artificial intelligence and natural language processing provider that wants to have a presence in next-generation apps can build or run chatbots, Constellation’s Mueller noted. Among the leaders in the field are Amazon, IBM, Microsoft, Google, Oracle and SAP.

Natural speech recognition in IVR systems isn’t new. Today “practically all chatbot and conversational user interface frameworks can get the customer to self-serve their needs and not go to an agent,” Mueller said.

Still, Genesys apparently has caught the wave of the future. About 60 percent of the 2,000-plus customer service professionals who participated in a recent survey on chat support solutions planned to implement AI chatbots within the next three years.

Fifty-eight percent of survey respondents said their companies offered chat support as part of customer service, and about 50 percent of those companies used an AI chatbot with or without human interaction to power chat support. The survey, sponsored by Passage AI, was conducted by EdgePeak Consulting.

Caveats on Voice Apps

Two things will have to happen before conversational apps take hold, said Rebecca Wettemann, VP of research at Nucleus Research.

First, voice engines will have to get better at pattern matching and natural language search in real time, she told CRM Buyer. Second, the real effectiveness and value of conversational apps will have to reach beyond basic capture — such as sales teams recording call notes in CRM, for example.

Nonetheless, The PureCloud/Lex integration “will reduce the initial and ongoing costs for contact centers seeking to provide IVR capabilities to customers,” Wettemann noted.

It will also “reduce vendor management costs for those seeking to use both PureCloud and Lex today,” she said.

The vast majority of cloud-based NLP research and development projects rely on AWS, based on Nucleus Research findings.

“Partnerships like this give Genesys leading-edge technology to address a key issue,” Wettemann pointed out, “and likely give Amazon a growing library of conversational data to make Lex smarter.”

Richard Adhikari

Richard Adhikari has been an ECT News Network reporter since 2008. His areas of focus include cybersecurity, mobile technologies, CRM, databases, software development, mainframe and mid-range computing, and application development. He has written and edited for numerous publications, including Information Week and Computerworld. He is the author of two books on client/server technology. Email Richard.

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