AI for Contact Centers
Updated: July 31, 2023
AI for contact centers refers to the integration of artificial intelligence technologies and capabilities into customer service operations. AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants are being increasingly adopted by contact centers to handle customer inquiries and support efficiently. These AI-driven bots can interact with customers in real-time, answering common queries, guiding users through self-service options, and providing instant assistance, reducing the need for human intervention in routine tasks. Natural Language Processing (NLP) allows these AI systems to understand and respond to customer queries in a more human-like manner, enhancing the overall customer experience. Moreover, AI analytics and sentiment analysis tools can process large volumes of customer interactions, identifying trends, patterns, and customer sentiments, enabling contact center agents to better understand customer needs and concerns, and consequently, improve service quality and responsiveness. AI for contact centers streamlines customer support processes, leading to faster response times, increased customer satisfaction, and cost savings, making it an essential tool for modern customer service operations. Contact Center AI rely on speech recognition and natural language processing to automate simple, common interactions, doing handoffs to live agents when needed. AI also can give agents recommendations in real time
See also: Top 10 Call Center software
See also: Top 10 Call Center software
2023. Zenarate, an AI-powered agent coaching platform, raises $15M
Zenarate, an AI simulation training platform, has secured $15 million in funding. This platform serves as a virtual "flight simulator" for customer and prospect-facing agents. It allows trainee agents to engage in realistic conversations, screen simulations, and chat simulations to effectively learn and master crucial topics they will encounter when interacting with real customers and prospects. By utilizing Zenarate's AWS-hosted platform, service agents can interact with an "AI coach" that provides feedback on their tone and interpersonal skills, offering appropriate suggestions for improvement. Agents receive a scorecard that demonstrates their proficiency in specific areas and their ability to meet essential requirements, such as transitioning from service to sales, managing multiple chat conversations simultaneously, and addressing customers by name.
2023. Parloa raises $21M to add a little automation to contact centers
Over the past year, a number of call center automation startups including Invoca, Replicant, PolyAI, and Observe.ai have attracted significant investments, signaling a positive outlook for customer service technology aimed at reducing labor requirements. Parloa, a software provider based in Germany, has also benefited from this trend, securing €20M in Series A funding. Parloa leverages conversational AI technology and low-code tools to assist companies in alleviating the workload on their contact center staff. Through intuitive drag-and-drop dashboards, Parloa enables the automation of contact center workflows by integrating various applications and services. For instance, its speech-to-text module, powered by Microsoft Cognitive Services, can be combined with its natural language understanding models to construct a phone dialogue tree.
2022. PolyAI lands $40M to handle contact center calls automatically
Numerous tech giants and startups, including Google (and its Area 120 incubator), Microsoft, Amazon, Got It AI, Replicant, and Tenyx, have tackled the challenge of automated call handling. However, a newer startup called PolyAI claims to have found a more effective solution, securing $40 million in funding. One notable advantage of PolyAI's AI systems is their ability to engage in open-ended and "intelligent" conversations. Instead of relying solely on keywords and decision tree-style flows, PolyAI can, to some extent, comprehend the context of inquiries and respond accordingly. Additionally, PolyAI can perform various tasks typically handled by customer service representatives, such as processing payment information and capturing details like names, addresses, and account numbers (e.g., for health insurance).
2022. AI-powered conversation intelligence platform Invoca raises $83M
Invoca, a platform utilizing AI for analyzing calls in marketing, sales, and customer agent training, has successfully concluded an $83 million funding round. By offering services such as agent coaching and "automated contact center quality assurance," the company aims to enhance conversion rates, customer satisfaction, and service levels in a mostly automated manner. Invoca's objective is to provide actionable data from real-time phone conversations between sales or service agents and customers. Operating entirely on the cloud, Invoca serves as a centralized platform that integrates AI-powered speech analytics, automated call scoring, call routing, and interactive voice response (IVR) capabilities for improved conversations.
2022. Call center automation software vendor Replicant raises $78M
Replicant, a leading player in the call center automation industry, has recently secured $78 million in a Series B funding round. The core objective of Replicant is to automate call flows by seamlessly integrating with existing systems, including customer relationship management software. By leveraging these integrations, Replicant can effectively identify customers by utilizing their order histories and past call interactions, if applicable. The platform offers features such as capturing, transcribing, and making customer conversations searchable. In addition to voice interactions, Replicant, like some of its competitors in the service automation space, also enables engagement with customers through SMS and web channels.
2022. Contact center analytics firm Loris raises $12M
Contact center analytics company Loris has recently secured $12 million in a Series A funding round. Rather than focusing on simply responding to customer requests, Loris' software is designed to coach and support customer service representatives. At the core of the software lies an AI-powered solution that provides de-escalation techniques and suggests language to guide agents through challenging conversations. Loris offers detailed and impactful data that can drive informed decisions across the organization, as it incorporates real-time customer sentiment on a daily basis. We believe that the future success or failure of businesses will be closely tied to the customer service experiences they deliver and the direct impact these experiences have on their profitability.
2022. AI-powered conversational platform Quiq raises $25M
Chatbots are proving their continued relevance and effectiveness, as demonstrated by Quiq, an AI-powered conversational platform that recently announced the successful closure of its $25 million Series C funding round. Quiq leverages the power of artificial intelligence and human agents to optimize operational efficiency, drive revenue growth, and enhance customer satisfaction. The platform facilitates seamless collaboration between customer service representatives and both first- and third-party chatbots, enabling them to effectively address customer inquiries across popular messaging channels, including Apple Messages for Business. By offering the capability to escalate conversations, whether synchronous or asynchronous, to human agents when automation falls short, Quiq ensures that customer issues are promptly and appropriately resolved.
2020. Snap acquired Voca.ai, which makes AI-based voice agents for call centers
Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, has made an acquisition by purchasing a startup called Voca.ai for $70 million. Voca.ai specializes in developing AI-powered voice assistants for customer support services. Their advanced technology enables natural and human-like conversations, often making it difficult to distinguish between a virtual or human agent. Voca.ai's platform functions as an efficient triage system, effectively handling simple inbound queries and seamlessly transferring more complex issues to human agents. The startup, originally founded in Israel and with offices in New York, had previously secured approximately $6 million in funding.
2020. AI startup Cresta wants to reinforce human contact center workers
Call center-focused startup Cresta has emerged from stealth mode and announced a successful funding round of $21 million. In contrast to many AI-driven call center startups, Cresta's primary focus lies in utilizing AI suggestions to empower human contact center workers during individual call or chat sessions. By leveraging past interactions that have yielded positive outcomes, Cresta's AI technology assists customer service and sales personnel in maximizing the potential of each interaction. The turnover rate in contact center jobs often discourages extensive investment in employee training. However, Cresta aims to address this challenge by leveraging advancements in natural language processing to alleviate stress for contact center workers and guide conversations towards successful sales outcomes for their respective companies.
2019. Google launched Contact Center AI
Google has announced the general availability of its Contact Center AI, a cloud service powered by the conversational AI engine Dialogflow. This service is designed to automate customer interactions within call centers. Contact Center AI includes a Virtual Agent feature that can respond to customer queries using voice or text, and it can also transfer the conversation to a human agent when the bot is unable to assist the customer. Additionally, Agent Assist utilizes natural language processing to enhance customer service agent interactions in cases where the bot is unable to provide assistance. Importantly, Contact Center AI is designed to complement existing contact centers rather than replace them. The service already integrates with Avaya and Mitel, and it offers support for U.K. English, Australian English, Spanish, and Russian languages.
2018. Talkdesk nabs $100M for its smart call centers
Talkdesk, the provider of cloud-based contact center software, has secured $100 million in new funding, leading to a valuation of over $1 billion for the company. Employing artificial intelligence and machine learning, Talkdesk focuses on enhancing customer service and primarily caters to mid-market and enterprise businesses. Notable customers include IBM, Dropbox, Stitch Fix, and Farfetch. With Talkdesk, companies serving a large customer base can ensure that each customer can engage with the company through their preferred communication channel. When a customer contacts the customer service team, agents can access information about the customer's previous purchases, preferences, and past complaints, enabling personalized and efficient assistance.