Welcome to 2017: The Year of the Omni-bot!
– A note from the CEO
Welcome to 2017! It is sure to be the year of Artificial Intelligence. No, wait – it will be the year of chat-bots. Actually, that could be wrong too. It’s voice-bots! Well, one thing we can all agree on is that SmartAction is right in the middle of all the action as we have all three – we call them Omni-bots! Whoa… what’s that?! IVRs and chat-bots are so 2016. It’s the year of the Omni-bot!
As a long-time provider of Artificial Intelligence based voice self-service, we have been grappling with the future of voice in customer service. In particular, as 2016 saw the rise of bots in the digital channels, many whom we spoke with felt unsure about where voice fit in the long-term picture. This year, it already seems clear that the convergence of AI, voice, and digital self-service (i.e. Omni-bots) is the hot topic. Investors, technologists, companies, and customers are all heading in the same direction. In fact, it might be the first time in 30 years that the pace of change in customer service is so significant that companies are seriously struggling to keep up. I have rarely seen customer service executives so consistently unsure about which direction to head and what changes to recommend inside their shops.
To that end, try to take yourself out of the contact center for a moment and consider the consumer products that have gained enormous traction in a short time frame. Consumers are welcoming devices that rely solely on voice (Amazon Echo, Siri, Google Home, etc). CES 2017 featured voice recognition as the “next big user interface” and the Economist, discussing computers that people can talk to, suggested that “computers without screens and keyboards have the potential to be more useful, powerful, and ubiquitous than people can imagine today.” So while Omni-bots are the goal, the power of voice has become abundantly clear over the past several months.
As consumers rely more heavily on virtual assistants to manage every day inquiries, the transition to voice self-service becomes an easy one. After all, the best human to machine interface is and always has been voice, if only the machine could understand! We have reached the point where machines do understand, and humans are beginning to feel comfortable speaking to them. Voice will remain important as the preferred channel in your customer service organization. Now, however, companies only need to introduce the voice-bot once and they can deploy the same AI logic and technology everywhere, reaping the benefits of all the voice and digital channels. To put it more simply: Omni-bots! And, we are the only ones that have them today!
2017 is going to be an amazing year. Wish us luck. Better yet, come join us. Your customers are waiting!
Tom Lewis, CEO of SmartAction since 2013 is a former Deloitte Partner, leading the call center advisory practice. Tom has over 25 years in Contact Center, Customer Experience.