Voice Is Enterprises' Next Interface

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We're living in a time when so much is changing, and that change is happening rapidly.

The coronavirus has strong-armed companies and employees around the globe into working from home. No sector is spared; leaders everywhere are grappling with the new reality as employees are barred from going to the office.

During these uncertain times, communication has never been more critical. For years, voice has been the best way to interact with people. For many organizations, it's how management prefers to communicate with colleagues because context can get lost in text and emails. Voice also is most effective for employees who don't have reliable technology, aren't highly literate, or have some impairments.

Despite technology's advancement in other interfaces, such as chat apps, instant messaging, and email, voice remains the sturdiest bridge between employees, customers and businesses. That's why it will continue gaining momentum and prove to be the next critical interface, especially during this pandemic when technology is playing a critical role in bringing people together.

Voice is the solution – especially for healthcare.

Healthcare contact centers handle millions of calls a year, and all customer service agents spend valuable time on mundane tasks, such as administrative note-taking and after-call-summarization work. This is particularly true during the coronavirus pandemic, when calls to healthcare providers have skyrocketed.

But we know consumers prefer to interact with companies through voice. In a recent survey by Uniphore, nearly 80 percent of respondents said they prefer to contact customer service through a phone call, as opposed to 12 percent who said they prefer chatbot. Thus, for healthcare companies, voice should be the number one choice for interfacing with their customers.

When coupled with voice AI software, agents can truly listen to patients' voices and more quickly solve issues. For example, machines can interpret language and help determine customer intent. Further, software can automate agent summaries after calls, allowing human agents to listen and ask vital questions about their situations and clarify needs. When voice conversations are processed and acted on in real time by automation and artificial intelligence software, the customer experience will be dramatically improved and organizations will save money.

Voice analytics can also help reduce fraud and even catch honest mistakes. For virtual doctor visits, conversational AI can analyze conversations between doctors and patients and compare the language with verbal orders and written instructions. If a doctor previously spoke with a patient about tennis elbow but the patient called to ask for an ADHD medication prescription, AI would flag an error because the patient's issues would be unrelated. An automated system to analyze data, including voicemails, doctor notes, and nurse's recorded commentary, can significantly mitigate fraud or redirect a patient's honest inquiry.

Voice can enable your digital transformation

As businesses adapt to the ever-changing digital world, voice can bridge the gap between users and advanced systems, such as complicated new apps and software.

Voice can allow employees to ask software questions or perform specific tasks. By leveraging the same AI, machine learning, and analytics that cut repetitive tasks on the back end of a call, voice can allow employees to more efficiently and more effectively interact with machines.As companies explore ways to move to touchless offices, people will interact with their work environments very differently. Everything from using keyboards, touchscreens, printers, and entry doors will evolve. Further, the way we interact with business processes and software will also change. I foresee a time when voice is used in all these circumstances as an interface to get things done.

The time is not far when you arrive at the office and don't need a key card; your voice becomes the way to unlock the front door. As your day progresses, you participate in many meetings, and instead of people keying in notes on their laptops, your digital office assistant is silently transcribing who is saying what and preparing summary notes with action items. And walking over to the printer, you notice it isn't working. So you calmly speak to it and ask why it isn't able to print your report. The printer immediately responds, saying it has a broken mechanism and has called customer service already and that the part has been ordered and will arrive tomorrow.

Yes, every connected machine will become a new customer, adding to an already heavy load of calls. Given the rapid evolution of natural language processing, natural language understanding, and natural language generation alongside AI and automation capabilities, these scenarios are not far off.

Voice can bridge the language barrier.

In a globalized economy, understanding international markets and the various sources that impact our life is increasingly important. Voice AI can help bridge the language barrier by understanding and translating hundreds of languages in real time and freeing enterprises to effectively communicate across cultural and language barriers.

Through AI, voice software can understand and respond in multiple languages, including dialects within languages. Further, systems can also translate those conversations and put them into text format or back into a different voice. For many organizations globally, this solves countless issues for call center agents. It also opens the door to broad voice translation use. With real-time language translation, employees can communicate with customers, stakeholders, and colleagues anywhere in the world using the globally preferred medium: voice. Nobody is left out. Everybody is heard.

Voice can streamline operations and save money.

Customer service today revolves around people interacting with organizations. Every minute spent listening and solving customer issues has a cost associated with it. This includes hardware, software, and human capital costs. Systems that require specialized input devices limited to understanding only certain types of commands or machine languages will, by nature, add to the rising costs of running contact centers.

Now is the time for companies to leverage the power of the human voice and help further the goal of effortless communications and seamless follow through. This is the power voice: Voice can empower new systems, capture and convey new data, and make changes in real time. With AI, voice quickly can be understood, transcribed, and used to take action through automation.

Finishing back where we started, contact centers are great places to start since advanced AI, automation, and machine learning can be used alongside real-time analytics to determine the true intent of callers. In doing so, the latest software can pull together the necessary resources, policies, and information to immediately resolve customer issues. The faster the call is resolved, the more efficient the contact center is. And with that efficiency comes cost savings along with new ways of delivering customer service.

And in this era of uncertainty, rapid social and business change alongside tremendous competitive pressures, voice is emerging as the best and most effective means to drive your business.

Umesh Sachdev is co-founder and CEO of Uniphore, a provider of conversational service automation.

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