What’s next for AI in digital communications?

3rd Feb 2021

AI (Artificial Intelligence) has become a cornerstone of digital communications in recent years. Over the past year it has proven to be essential for many businesses left short on staff due to COVID-19, and communications have shifted from face-to-face to calls and emails. AI has demonstrated it can improve all procedures and processes for the benefit of a business’ customers, enhancing the customer journey and maximising employee output.  

As for what’s coming next in the field of AI, and specifically in digital communications, the focus will be on improving the customer experience, streamlining and optimising the speed of communication, the efficiency with which enquiries can be dealt with, and even the ability of AI to assist with customer queries. If businesses get it right, they will undoubtedly reap the benefits. 

AI and Unified Communications 

Unified Communications (UC) are more important than ever in the “new normal” where teams are likely to be separated across the country or even across continents. If you have a flawlessly connected UC system, it ensures that no matter where you are, you will have access to the same tools as everybody else in the business, all via a single platform. These tools will likely include messaging programmes, voice and video conferencing software, file-sharing abilities, and other collaborative tools that together form an entirely unified communications system.

Combining the power of AI and UC can help streamline business processes. For example, an IT company, or IT team working within a company, will have many regular tasks to undertake such as updates, patches, and installations. Using AI and UC together can help predict when updates might be needed, which users could be affected, and it can also help to run the fixes required in real-time. This means more work gets done with minimal input, freeing up the IT team to handle more complex issues than routine maintenance. If everyone is using the same tools, not only will this process be faster, but everyone who needs to see the outcomes of various tasks will be able to do so quickly and easily on a single system.

In the future, we anticipate that AI and UC will work even more closely together, analysing data at a micro level, to infer probability, detect problems, and issue solutions before a human would even pick them up. This will help businesses streamline their processes, increase their efficiency, and maximise their profitability. But the benefits aren’t just to businesses themselves – it’s to the customers they serve. Delivery scales could be improved, logistics can be streamlined, and customers can speak to chatbots to have simple queries resolved 24 hours a day without having to wait to speak with a human.

In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2022, 70 percent of customer interactions will involve machine learning applications, such as the use of chatbots and mobile messaging, up from 15 percent in 2018.

The Future of Contact Centres  

The purpose of using AI within the modern-day contact centre is to help agents – not replace them. AI can assist in streamlining processes, making employees more efficient, freeing them up for more complex tasks and removing some of the technical barriers to optimised working. For example, one of the most common existing applications of AI in contact centres is the use of speech recognition technology to direct callers to the correct department for their queries. This has also been augmented with the addition of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and can facilitate a conversation to understand the customer's needs and execute the most suitable action. 

For example, when a caller says, “I’m free after 5pm, please call back then” – they mean they are available after 5pm, not that they are “free of charge” after 5pm. AI may then go on to add a calendar note to the employee’s diary, which could be pre-populated with information from their records on the system, as well any other notes such as the ‘tone’ of the previous conversation – whether it was negative or positive, for example, which is where NLP can help. 

Ultimately this will all come together to improve customer experience, augmenting and even predicting what they need, when they need it – before they even know themselves. It goes back to the concept of increased efficiency, speed, and effectiveness for companies towards their customers – if a business is able to anticipate a customer’s need for something before they even realise they need it, they will immediately have the edge over their competitors.

AI is not a new technology, and much like the concept itself, we are still learning about it and its many possible uses as part of business and industry moving forward. One thing that is certain is that AI is here to stay, in multiple ways and in multiple applications. If it can be successfully implemented across people, operations and technology, then there is no stopping the ongoing AI revolution.

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