2018 is likely to see a number of emerging technologies, such as chatbots and voice biometrics, become more mainstream. Robert Weideman, Executive Vice President & General Manager, Nuance Enterprise Division shares his predictions for how that will change the customers experience.
Over the past 12 months, we’ve seen some pioneering organisations bringing what were emerging technologies to the fore with innovative deployments of artificial intelligence (AI) and data analytics for their customer engagement.
Next year, we’re going to see a lot of those technologies go mainstream to meet the ever-growing demands from consumers for brands to always be available, while delivering a secure and seamless service.
So, what will that look like in 2018?
1.Your voice will be your password
2017 was a record year for breaches of personal customer details. These hacks give fraudsters access to our identities, including the responses to the annoying security questions that kick off most engagements with companies on the phone. However, one thing the fraudsters can’t do much with is voice data. And that is why we’re seeing banks and telcos increasingly moving to replace security questions with biometrics.
Just a few words of speech enables voice biometrics to verify that you are who you say you are, more accurately and securely than using pins, passwords and security questions. It can also detect recordings from real, live speech – which renders any voiceprints or recordings useless to fraudsters in the case of a breach.
2. You will use a virtual assistant (VA) for customer service – and it will work!
Breakthroughs in conversational AI have led to a new generation of VAs that are tailored to your bank, your telco and even your pizza takeaway, all providing a personalised, concierge-like service. In 2018, this generation of VAs will become even more effective thanks to technology called HAVA (Human Assisted Virtual Assistant). Adding a human-in-the-loop capability, HAVA can help answer new questions that VAs don’t know the answer to, while also providing a learning loop that updates the VA’s “brain” in real time.
3. You will add a brand as your messaging “Friend” – and you will mean it.
This past year, we’ve seen companies like Facebook Messenger, Line and Kik add capabilities for their users to “friend” organisations and companies. And later in 2017, Apple announced Apple Business Chat that will deliver the same service over Apple Messages.
Next year, you will start engaging with brands in the same way that you talk to friends – whether via a messaging app, SMS or even directly through your banking and telco apps. AI will also allow each brands’ VA engine to respond to you in a personalised way, referencing the past engagements that you have had across all other channels.
4. Brands will be better enabled to anticipate your needs
Customer service creates a colossal amount of data. In 2018, this data will be better harnessed to fuel new AI engines. Predictive customer service will enable brands to anticipate what you need or will do – often before know yourself – by analysing and detecting patterns across billions of past customer engagements.
5. The “0800” number will enter early retirement
Digital customer engagement combined with smartphones, tablets and data lines will result in a lot less phone calls. In 2018, you will engage with a VA and if they aren’t able to resolve the issue, you will be seamlessly transitioned to text with a live contact centre agent. If the issue is really complicated and it can’t be resolved with messaging, you still won’t need to call the 0800 number. In 2018, that step will be integrated using advanced technologies like WebRTC and IVR-to-digital that will enable the contact centre agent to connect with you via voice or video within the app, on your laptop, or even through your TV or smart speaker.
By Robert Weideman,
Executive Vice President & General Manager