Artificial intelligence for call centers: How bots are saving enterprise CX

A mobile phone with a voice symbol

You already know this, but we’ll say it anyway: AI is the way of the future. And it’s going to make major ripples in the business landscape. Gartner predicts that bots will handle a full 20% of interactions by 2031. They also estimate that this sea change will save $80B in labor costs. 

In fact, conversational AI isn’t just coming in the future, it’s already here. If your call center isn’t using virtual agents, know that your neighbors across the industrial park already do. Bots are taking over, and they’re going to be saving enterprises billions of dollars. 

Even consumers are coming around to the idea of interacting with AI customer service. Live Person found that users with negative feelings about chatbots decreased from 28% in 2019 to 18% in 2020, and that number will continue to fall as the technology improves for better UX. 

What is call center AI?

Call center artificial intelligence (AI) refers to any AI that’s used in a contact center setting. AI embodies computer and robot technology that imitates human thinking, decision-making, and intelligence. Types of AI can include machine learning, deep learning, neural networks, and natural language processing.

Customer service centers have traditionally been very expensive to run, and have not always created a good customer experience. However, AI technologies promise to automate, speed up, and improve the quality of call center operations in a variety of ways.

How enterprises are using call center AI today

Better Interactive Voice Response Systems

Interactive Voice Response, better known as IVR, systems have been around for decades. They’re the basic phone trees people reach when they call customer service. Between dead-end menus and static-y saxophones droning between  “higher than anticipated call volume” warnings, IVRs got a bad reputation. 

But these days, there are better options. IVR systems that actually understand you when you say your birthdate, and route your call to the appropriate agent when you say you need to change your reservation.

When you call your pharmacy and get a robotic message telling you that your prescription for Cipro is ready, that’s an example of a text-to-speech technology. It’s not technically AI, but it’s tech that’s become increasingly widespread and useful. And to consumers, it can have the same “automated” vibe.

Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Processing, or NLP, is a branch of artificial intelligence that decodes spoken language. IBM’s Watson, perhaps best remembered for its chess strategy or Jeopardy! game show triumph,  technology was one of the first NLP programs. 

These days NLP is widely used in many industries, including call centers. NLP takes IVRs and makes them work the way they were always supposed to, eliminating friction and frustration along the way.

Conversational AI

The real game changer in call center tech is conversational AI. Virtual agents can guide customers through simple transactions and free up human agents to provide higher level support on complex cases.

For example, by using integrations with companies like Cognigy, companies can support 25k concurrent conversations via voice and chat and agents can each save up to 200 hours per year.

In addition to automating the simple interactions that make up the largest volume of most calls, there are real business benefits to harnessing AI for your call center.

How to upgrade your CX and impress the the C-suite

Step 1: Speed up issue resolution

IBM research found that adding virtual agent technology (VAT) increased customer satisfaction by 12%. Of course, customers usually don’t call when everything is hunky-dory. If they’re calling, they have a problem, and they want it fixed now.

You can reduce call time and customer wait time (and annoyance!) by using automations to speed things up. Live Person’s survey found that “for tasks like checking an account balancer or updating an address, more than 50% of consumers prefer to use bots over interacting with humans.” 

Step 2: Improve agent engagement and productivity

No one wants to do a robot’s job. Leave the routine screening questions and simple tasks to AI, and let your agents focus on working with customers to find solutions to more complex problems. In an industry where agent turnover averages between 30%–45%, this isn’t some fluffy sentiment, it’s an objective business need.

Step 3: Automatically scale to customer demand

End the cycle of hiring and layoffs with AI that scales as your business gets busier. Fewer support calls? Don’t waste cash on agents sitting around. A spike in calls? AI is ready and waiting to jump in. No extra training or overtime pay necessary.

Don’t be left behind: Prepare now for your Call Center to reap AI benefits later

Our Bring Your Own Carrier (BYOC) solutions let you choose the best provider for your contact center right now. When you’re looking to BYOC, choose a voice provider who can meet your future, possibly AI-reliant, needs. That means whether you’re fully deployed in the cloud, currently migrating, or are committed to maintaining a hybrid solution, Bandwidth works with your organization’s terms and timeline. Don’t be stuck regretting your carrier because there is no support for AI activities. 

A great first step: setting up a futureproof tech stack.

For years, Bandwidth has powered all the players in Gartner’s Leader Magic Quadrant for CCaaS. We’ve built enterprise-grade software, and power top providers like 8×8 and Genesys. With Bandwidth powering your CCaaS offering, you can:

  • Trigger ports, order, provision, & manage numbers in real time
  • Integrate messaging, voice, and 911 via APIs
  • Convert PRI trunks to scalable SIP trunking
  • Directly control disaster recovery & IP failover
  • Easily access calling & billing detail records

And when it comes to migrating your enterprise communications to the cloud (as 37% of enterprises already have), Maestro is an award-winning solution designed to help make the transition seamless. 

Let’s walk through a sample flow to show AI in practice, sparking your imagination for what’s possible at your company. We’ll be using Bandwidth’s AIBridge solution that gives you increased efficiency with simple Conversational AI integration using your preferred tools. Here’s a sample flow to show how you can add AI to your ecosystems:

  1. Create Bandwidth endpoint in Cognigy
    Customer uses Cognigy to create a new Bandwidth endpoint.
  1. BOT Configuration
    Customer registers their Cognigy endpoint & TTS/STT provider in Bandwidth where we use a Voice Gateway with TTS/STT.
  1. Purchase / Port Numbers
    Customer purchases or ports numbers using our extensive inventory management tools.
  1. Route Numbers to BOT
    Customer decides which numbers will route to which BOTs using our intelligent orchestration system.
  1. Create Cognigy BOT
    Customer creates their BOT in Cognigy with easy transition from Bandwidth to Cognigy.

No matter where you are in the process of adding call center AI, there’s no doubt that you’ll need it at some point. And when you do, Bandwidth is here to make it easy for you.

Integrate AI with ease

Easily add voice AI to your call flows with pre-integrations to Dialogflow and Cognigy, or bring your own voice bot.