Interactions Upgrades Its Speech Offerings

Interactions has unveiled a series of innovations that the company says will change the way companies approach customer care.

Too many of the virtual assistants on the market today don't have the understanding or intelligence necessary to provide the easy interactions customers expect, typically frustrating customers and leading them to default to costlier customer service agents, according to Interactions executives.

"IVRs are obsolete," says Mike Iacobucci, Interactions' CEO. "We're seeing tremendous adoption of our conversational virtual assistant solutions."

By enabling an entire conversation to occur via a virtual assistant, companies save money on live agents while customers enjoy a better communications experience, leading to improved customer engagement, Iacobucci adds.

Interactions grew 100 percent last year and expects similar growth in 2016, Iacobucci adds, crediting much of the growth to the company's new Curo solution, built on applied research in machine learning, deep neural networks, and advanced language models.

Curo Speech, built from technology that Interactions gained in late 2014 when it acquired AT&T's Watson speech offerings, uses a single platform of diverse speech and language solutions for seamless integration into applications so that it can work with legacy solutions.

Curo Speech benefits from Interactions' Adaptive Understanding technology, which blends multiple recognition resources to boost understanding. This will enable full handling of even complex communications, eliminating the need to go to a live customer service agent, according to Phil Gray, Interactions' executive vice president of business development.

Interactions is expanding its virtual assistant and speech and language solutions offerings, including Curo Speech, to bring Adaptive Understanding-enabled chat, text messaging, and outbound virtual assistant solutions to market. The technology is based on a single, multimodal platform architecture, which the company says allows for a consistent, highly interactive experience on any communication channel and delivers significant economies of scale.

Other virtual assistant offerings don't have the right architecture, so if a person has an accent, if there is background noise, or the speaker uses a different speech pattern or terminology outside of what the system expects, the technology can't handle the communication, according to Gray.

Additionally, the systems tend to be siloed, so they can't work across multiple channels.

Interactions solves these problems by having people support the virtual assistant to add human intelligence to boost the understanding of the system.

Interactions' technologies will be offered at prices lower than the prices for prevailing legacy technologies, according to Gray. "They will be disruptive to current pricing in the market," costing customers "significantly" less than what many companies currently pay for maintenance, he says.

Additionally, the Interactions solutions are built in such a way that they can be added onto existing systems, enabling a company to expand its multichannel support capabilities without replacing entire systems, according to Gray. "Previously, there haven't been a lot of alternatives," he says.

Interactions virtual assistant and speech and language solutions are now available through an expanded delivery model, including fully-hosted applications, on-demand cloud offerings, and on-premises solutions. To escalate distribution of Interactions offerings to the market, the company is offering a new partner network, which includes value-added service providers, resellers, and an alliance partner network.

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