how does conversational voice ai work

How Does Conversational Voice AI Work?

Conversational AI is the darling of the IVR space these days for its ability to vastly improve customer calls in measurable ways. But how does conversational AI work? This technology not only has the potential to improve customer experience, it can boost your bottom line and unearth new insights about your customers.

When customer calls are more intuitive, easier to use and closed faster it’s a win for everyone. In today’s IVR landscape, endless phone trees can be traded in for a system that can ask customers open-ended questions. As a result, the possibilities are endless. 

What Is Conversational AI?

Conversational AI is a combination of technologies that enable computers to engage in natural voice dialogue with humans. With more than 555 million voice devices expected to reach homes by 2024, you probably use conversational AI on at least one device – like your phone, or a device like Amazon Echo or Google Assistant. This is all made possible through the combination of natural language processing (NLP) and artificial intelligence (AI). 

Common use cases for conversational AI in the IVR space include payments, account inquiries, card activation and servicing, and surveys. These applications span a variety of industries, including but not limited to financial services, healthcare, insurance, prepaid cards, and utilities. 

Natural Language Processing (NLP)

Natural language processing is a discipline encompassing linguistics, computer science and artificial intelligence. It’s how computers and human language interact, and is used by computers to process vast amounts of natural language data.  

It’s the magic behind many of our favorite voice apps such as Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa. More accurately, it’s less magic and more a matter of leveraging statistics to analyze our message and determine our intent. For every possible request our smart devices receive, there are multitudes of ways we initiate a task.

These various linguistic options are organized into trigrams, thousands of phonetic possibilities grouped together by the statistical probability that they are related to a common task. NLP software is essentially a series of bins that organizes these trigrams into possible user intents. This complex system of syllables, intents and statistical probability work together to actually improve in performance the more it is used, as voice device consumers already know. Learn more about NLP and its impact. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Artificial intelligence is simply intelligence displayed by machines versus human intelligence. One of the most well-known AI systems is IBM’s supercomputer Watson, which famously destroyed humans in a 2011 game of Jeopardy.

If NLP is the machine, AI is the grease that keeps the gears moving. Without AI, NLP applications must parse every single term and phrase that could be associated with a task. This is a colossal drain on time and resources that AI is able to mitigate by using predictive analysis to pre-emptively store other terms and phrases that could go into a specific task bin.

NLP and AI are able to work together through the use of APIs. These are the building blocks of the conversational AI system and are how this technology can be more accessible to teams. Learn more about how NLP and AI.

Benefits of Conversational AI 

As we mentioned earlier, the combination of NLP and AI empowers customers to express their intent in their own words. The better you understand your customers, the better equipped you will be at providing the best experience possible. Even by simply reducing friction, your company could experience significant gains.

Not only does conversational AI make the call process quicker and more efficient – an improvement to your margins, yes – it’s also an opportunity to scoop out the competition by jumping on this game-changing tool first. Perhaps the most interesting benefit is that conversational IVR provides companies with a treasure trove of customer data. This intel can be utilized to provide customers even more of what they want. 

Here are more reasons to consider conversational AI:

  • 96 percent of consumers think it’s important that support calls pick up from where they last left off, a feature that’s made possible through voice transcription. These transcripts also can be used to enhance your CRM records.
  • Conversational AI also has the power to essentially serve as a personal assistant to your call agents, providing them any information they need at the tip of their fingers. Additionally, these assistants can take care of the note-taking and schedule follow-up appointments so that agents can focus on the customer interaction. 
  • While right now it may appear forward-thinking to try conversational AI, it’s only a matter of time before this becomes the industry standard. One only needs to look to the ever-growing VoIP market to know the time has come to get educated on the options now. 

Finding The Best Conversational AI For Your IVR Application

The answer to “what is the best conversational AI” is going to depend on your particular use case(s) and industry, but there are a few things you can be aware of while you are searching for the right solution. These include:

  • Security and Compliance – Many conversational AI applications are used to assist customers with sensitive information in fields like healthcare and banking. Make sure your solution checks off all the required boxes such as HIPAA, PCI-DSS and/or SOC2 compliance.
  • Reliability – Look for a company that can guarantee 100% uptime. For example, Plum Voice only uses Tier 1 telecom and has multiple, secure data centers.
  • Transparent Pricing – Ensure you fully are aware of any hidden fees. 
  • Robust Support – Telephony can get tricky. Make sure your new software partner is going to be there when you need them.

A Few Caveats

Although there is much to be celebrated about conversational AI, inevitably misinformation and confusion spread around. For example, it wouldn’t be accurate to assume AI is a one-size-fits-all solution. Additionally, conversational AI needs to be properly programmed for it to operate, while human intervention is required to help it learn. While it’s a powerful addition to your toolbox, it’s not going to completely transform your customer experience on its own – but it can be an important component of customer experience transformation. Additionally, many companies find it easiest to use conversational AI for a single use case until they get comfortable enough to branch out. In other words, it’s a scalable solution that doesn’t have to be intimidating to deploy.To learn more about Plum Voice’s conversational AI and IVR solutions, speak to an expert today.