Omni-Channel Customer Engagement Article

Chatbots Open New Omni-Channel Customer Support Opportunities

May 26, 2016

The Radisson Blu Edwardian in London has a new concierge called “Edward,” but this one doesn’t wear a suit and carry a clipboard. He’s a chatbot, or a virtual assistant who operates by text message, and he’s able to meet guest requests or answer questions nearly as well as any human concierge.

Requests to “please send ice to my room” or “help me make a restaurant reservation” will launch a customer support session whose back-end – carried out by humans – will be largely invisible to hotel guests. In a recent blog post, Aspect’s (News - Alert) Tobias Goebel called chatbots like Edward a form of customer service that combines the best of all forms of consumer interaction types, and the best of what we and the industry have been able to develop in next generation customer experience technology. Edward runs on Aspect CXP, a platform that lets users build self-service experiences once and then deploy them on any channel.

Multichannel customer support is more critical to pleasing customers than ever before. Today, customers are in control of how they want their experiences delivered, and companies need to be ready to provide it.  According to Goebel, CXP’s unique design-once-deploy-anywhere approach and its adapter framework for adding new channels lets us take an application as is and deploy it on a different channel. The solution is about to get a new application: the Amazon Echo, and in his most recent blog post, Goebel demonstrates how easy it was to adapt CXP to a new channel.

Amazon Echo is a wireless speaker and voice command device designed to sit in a user’s home (or office). The device “listens” to user speech, and responds to the name "Alexa" as a "wake word.” (Though it can be changed to either “Amazon” or “Echo.”) When “woken,” the device connects to the Alexa Voice Service to play music, search the Web and provide information, read news and sports scores, check the weather and more. It’s essentially a chatbot that uses voice interaction instead of text.

“It took us only 30 minutes to point the existing application, which was built for the SMS channel, to the Amazon Echo,” noted Goebel. “This is all due to the architecture of Aspect CXP, that lets us deploy dialog applications on a variety of channels, and add new ones easily. Differences among the channels, such as prompting the SMS user ‘send X’ vs the voice user ‘say X,’ can be accommodated easily using CXP’s Layer concept.”

Artificial intelligence and voice-based computing are likely two of the main components of the smart devices of the future, according to some experts, and adapting them to customer support will be a critical step in advancing the customer experience. Voice-based assistants such as Echo and Siri are entering customer consciousness as the way forward when it comes to both personal and consumer needs. While many companies are still struggling with maintaining a two-way presence on social media, the most advanced companies are already looking ahead to virtual assistants…and this time (unlike Microsoft’s (News - Alert) annoying paperclip), customers actually want to use them. 

Edited by Maurice Nagle
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