Vodafone is releasing a new set of voice assistants and chatbots upgraded by Google Cloud and contact center tech developer Genesys in Australia through TPG Telecom, the umbrella company Vodafone operates under in Australia. The new technology will augment its TOBi AI assistant with better natural language processing (NLP) and interactive voice response (IVR) for customers calling or messaging the company.
Google Cloud’s Dialogflow Customer Experience (CX) platform brings AI agents for enterprise projects by boosting Google’s virtual agent system with better conversational control and the ability to handle multiple conversation topics at once. Google followed that with a custom voice feature for clients who want their agents to sound a certain way, although Vodafone hasn’t said if it will apply that feature to its service.
TOBi is designed to answer customer questions and connect them to the solutions they need or the human agents who can answer their questions. The AI helps customers set up or upgrade their tech and answer questions about any issues that arise. TOBi’s first phase launched this past April and claims to have resolved 70% of all customer queries without needing to connect to a human agent and 94% success connecting customers to the correct resources. When connecting to a human agent, TOBi also passes along the information it has collected during the interaction, so the customer doesn’t need to repeat themselves. The Google Cloud partnership sets up the next phase of the AI, which will allow the virtual assistant to carry out transactions by voice. Customers will be able to adjust or upgrade their service and pay for it without needing to talk to a human agent at all.
“By using AI virtual assistants, predictive analytics and natural language processing we are taking out some of the most common pain points that customers experience while also delivering a fast, simple, and frictionless digital customer experience. Every minute of a customer’s time is precious, and that’s why we are committed to doing everything we can to remove the frustration of long wait times or lengthy searching for relevant answers,” said TPG Telecom general manager Virginia Papinyan. “By partnering with Google Cloud and Genesys to deliver these innovations, we are demonstrating that we are at the forefront of using customer friendly, intuitive technology solutions to keep our customers happy and our customer care agents more engaged.”
Setting up natural-feeling conversations with brands is a familiar theme for contact centers and customer service providers these days. The COVID-19 pandemic led to a boom in calls and reduced human staffing, so companies with the technology to help are showered in contracts and funding. Startups are filling enormous funding rounds, with the $78.15 million raised by Yellow, Rasa’s $26 million round, and the $100 million raised by Gupshup representing just a taste.
Google Cloud is angling to pick up a piece of the mushrooming demand part of the trend through its own new features and partnerships. That includes signing Wendy’s up to incorporate AI and voice tools into the restaurant chain and teaming with GE Appliances to augment future GE smart home devices with Google’s data and AI products. The Vodafone deal adds Google Cloud’s tech to customer service and could cement the tech giant’s place as the background telecom AI assistant for a long time to come.
“When it comes to customer service, every second counts. By harnessing the power of AI, machine learning, and data analytics, Vodafone can offer rich, intuitive customer outcomes, quickly,” said Google Cloud Vice President ANZ Alister Dias. “The result is a better experience for customers—they get answers faster—and human agents can focus on higher-value tasks.”
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