Trending in 2019: Voice Technology and Customer Experience

Not long ago the industry had all but written off voice technology as a customer engagement channel. But considering there were 100+ billion inbound calls via mobile devices alone in 2018, the past year has proven the voice pundits wrong. As we get ready to launch into the new year, we see four over-arching trends driving voice technology and improved customer experience:

  • Voice technology will become the new user interface of choice and offer companies a tremendous opportunity to enhance digital transformation.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning will have a big impact on enterprise CRM.
  • A significant number of contact centers will move to the cloud.
  • Data mining and speech analytics will unlock valuable “dark data” for improved customer experience.

Let’s explore these trends and their ramifications.

Voice Technology Will Become the New User Interface of Choice and Enhance Digital Transformation

The ubiquity of the mobile phone will continue to drive billions of additional phone calls into enterprises, continuing to make technologies that can distill insights from voice and transform insights into actions essential, given that improving customer experience is one of the key pillars of business/digital transformation. Advancements in voice technology such as voice recognition and natural language understanding (NLU) will fuel continuous improvement in customer experience at a faster rate.

Deeply embedding voice in the fabric of CRM systems is a trend that will continue to accelerate in 2019. As more customer action centers begin to blend voice and chat seamlessly into one platform, they will see:

  • Improved operational management
  • Better customer experience
  • Enhanced call center agent productivity

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning Will Have a Big Impact on Enterprise CRM

Voice has been the missing element in CRM systems. After all, there’s nothing quite like the power of a conversation to build a relationship, resolve an issue or close a sale. The emergence and greater adoption of a number of key technologies will ensure data can be extracted from voice interactions and then fed to the CRM system for the mutual benefit of customers and businesses.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is driving automated conversations in the contact center, which can result in cost savings. Voice bots, powered by natural language understanding (NLU), combine the best of both worlds ... automation (cost savings) coupled with customer experience (human understanding).

Speech analytics and machine learning have been gaining traction in recent years to uncover insights from voice conversations that were previously hidden. In 2019, expect more enterprises to use predictive (AI) routing of conversations based on learning from past interactions and outcomes, fueled by these insights.

The importance of tightly integrating voice and CRM solutions cannot be understated as only a tight integration will allow proper mining of all data across platforms, with resulting benefits in agent productivity and customer experience.

A Significant Number of Contact Centers Will Move to the Cloud

Contact center technology has been available in one form or another for a decade. However, the prominence and adoption of cloud contact center technology, as a viable alternative to on-premise and legacy systems, has significantly accelerated in the last two years with no signs of slowing. 

Contact centers are following in the footsteps of their peers in other departments such as marketing/sales and are finally adopting cloud-based solutions.

As well, the growing adoption of cloud-based solutions can be attributed to the combined impact of three trends:

  • The need for flexibility and more integrated offerings between systems of records (CRM, contact center, ERP, etc.);
  • The desire by organizations to retire the operational cost and risk of managing a legacy infrastructure (i.e. servers, employees, etc.) internally; and,
  • The rapid evolution of speech-enabled technology (i.e. voice bots, intelligent IVR routing, speech analytics, etc.) which is easier to adopt rather than build when leveraging cloud-enabled platforms and environments.

Data Mining and Speech Analytics Will Unlock Valuable Dark Data for Improved Customer Experience

A wealth of information on customer and agent sentiment lies within every voice conversation. This dark data has been inaccessible—until now. The advancement of speech analytics capabilities has made it possible for organizations to explore new ways to ingest, analyze and derive insights from previously untapped and extremely valuable dark data. 

Data mining of voice interactions results in insights about customer experience, workforce productivity and training, to drive corresponding actions in the organization.

In this way, contact centers are evolving to “customer action centers,” using speech analytics to uncover critical “dark data” to improve the customer experience.

Thanks to the industry emphasis on digital transformation and putting the customer first, organizations are increasingly taking the necessary steps to unlock the valuable insights that reside in dark data to reveal customer pain points, best practices, common experiences and winning ways to issue resolution.

The potential benefits for enterprises and customers are endless as we see a convergence in 2019 of voice technology as a primary user interface; artificial intelligence and machine learning; continued cloud migration; data mining and speech analytics. We’re entering a brave new world in customer engagement where voice technology will be a dominant force in driving digital transformation for enterprises and bringing organizations and customers around the globe closer to one another.

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