Advances in Cloud based Call Center Voicemail

By Cliff Wiser, Vice President, Software Architecture, Voice Foundry
A black and brown headset placed next to a laptop with a black screen and a blurry background.

As call centers continue to migrate to the cloud, customer-centric businesses are seeing new and exciting artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities turn into emerging trends. From predictive call routing to AI-powered recommendations, these new features are adept at managing repetitive tasks in quick and creative ways. 

Although still evolving, AI capabilities have already proven effective at optimizing cost and agent efficiency in the call center environment while providing timely analytics that help personalize and elevate the customer experience. Most recently, AI technology is being applied to voicemail.

Better Customer Experience, Better Agent Efficiency

Call centers everywhere face the challenge of increasing agent performance while decreasing call times and cost per customer. Augmenting voicemail with AI capabilities is a powerful way to discern actionable data from customers’ voicemail messages to get to solutions quickly. 

Here’s how it works. When a customer calls, they leave a standard voice message (name, account number, reason for calling, and the resolution they desire). While the interface may feel the same to the customer, workflows behind the scenes have completely changed – with AI automatically assigning tasks and scheduling call-backs with agents. 

Traditional voicemail gets the job done, but consider the cost: retrieving a message, listening through, logging necessary information, and only then taking the necessary course of action. These steps add up to a time-consuming process for agents and customers alike.

Now, when a live agent is unavailable and a voicemail is left, AI automatically moves the customer’s transcribed voicemail into the agent’s queue. As soon as they’re available, the agent reads the AI-transcribed message to bring them up to speed faster. AI processes the message and pulls out the intent – automating the creation of a task, the routing, and the callback. The agent then quickly processes and executes – all without ever listening to the audio message. 

Treating voicemail as a work queue leads to significant time savings and efficiency gains among agents, but employees aren’t the only beneficiaries. Aside from the almost immediate improvements to agent experience, augmenting voicemail with automation capabilities enables futuristic opportunities to improve customer experience. 

Best of all, these opportunities are available now.

The Future of AI-Augmented Voicemail

Conversation Modeling

Conversation and topic modeling can not only help you understand your performance as a call center, but also examine why your customers are leaving messages. 

Let’s say I work as a fund manager, and there’s a news event about fund XYZ. I can now get telemetry at scale across my agents’ desktops that says there’s a 20% uptick in people seeking information about fund XYZ. That insight allows me to standardize messaging to agents, or push notifications to my customer base – helping align and focus our efforts and provide proactive engagement. 

Predictive Intent

By leveraging machine learning, we can more accurately predict the intent of our customers. If I have a customer who calls on the 30th of every month to check their account balance, over time I can predict that action and use it to find a smarter way to serve them. For example, I might program an automated response for that customer when they reach out on the 30th, or even proactively send a text on the 29th with their balance information. Either solution saves time and effort.

Conversational analytics allows you to predict and surface these intents, which in turn allows you to build an interactive voice response (IVR) unique to each caller. If the experience you’re offering is personalized and relevant, a customer is more likely to take advantage of the tools. 

Opportunities in Specificity

As a result of these programs operating from a cloud platform – which offers reams of customer data insights as well as the power to quickly run complex predictive algorithms – brands have many opportunities to provide individualized experiences as soon as customers pick up the phone. 

For example, imagine you’re traveling, and you call an airline from a phone number that’s registered to your frequent flyer account. Because of that connection, the agent can quickly see there’s been a delay to your itinerary. Their AI-powered dashboard can accurately and easily surface a menu that says, “Are you calling about your flight that’s been delayed? The system already booked you on another flight. There’s an earlier flight available, but I can see you booked two seats together. Would you prefer two separate seats on an earlier flight, or two seats together on a later one? Great! The details will be sent to your account.”

If everyone is getting the same experience, it’s not possible to automate that kind of problem-solving. However, because cloud platforms and the surrounding technology have enabled us to do call-by-call personalization, we can increasingly automate complex workflows to provide fast service and faster resolutions on an individual level. 

Don’t Do Things the Way You Always Have

It is difficult to decouple organizational thinking and business process from the technology limitations imposed by legacy platforms. Approach new practices with an open mind: These technologies provide an opportunity for dramatically transforming the way your company delivers customer experience. Two customers having a different experience when dialing the same phone number requires a whole reboot of your internal processes – but it also has the potential to reinvigorate your customer experience, your employee experience, and your trajectory as a business.

From customer experience to agent efficiency, the cloud provides incredible opportunities to transform the way your company operates. The underlying technologies that enable these use cases are nearly as cost-effective as recording and storing a voicemail. But in addition to delivering a cost-effective solution, these technologies generate analytical and efficiency benefits. The whole point of migrating to the cloud is to refactor and reimagine your business practices to get better experiences for your customer, more cost-effective solutions for your business, and better outcomes for everyone. There’s no reason your approach to voicemail should be any different. 

Cliff Wiser is vice president of software architecture at Voice Foundry, a TTEC Digital company, which enables smarter, more meaningful experiences throughout the entire customer journey. Voice Foundry delivers comprehensive contact center innovations that solve the unique needs of any organization.