Experts see the pandemic accelerating the adoption of artificial intelligence solutions in customer service as consumer behaviors change in response to the global crisis.
“I think everyone will be pushed to go online. E-commerce will be pushed, even services will be pushed online. So AI will have to handle that volume to aid the agents in handling each of those calls,” said PLDT Enterprise Innovation Center head Andy Santos at the Voix Live!2020 webinar.
Telus International Vice President for Digital Solutions Nalakumar RS said the pandemic has fast-tracked the adoption of AI chatbots as people begin to move away from accessing customer services through voice calls.
“There is that push from our customers to transform the way we used to do things to fit our current lifestyle and work style that is needed right now,” said TeamAsia Managing Director Bea Lim.
Roadblocks in AI adoption
However, Google Cloud Customer Engineer Graeme Merrall pointed out that there are roadblocks in the adoption of AI solutions in contact centers, particularly because some of them work in traditional organizations.
Santos agreed, saying that contact centers in the Philippines are still measuring key performance indicators based on the duration of calls and the number of calls handled by agents.
“Probably it’s time to shift from that KPI to a better measurement wherein we automate the first touchpoint, we improve the experience when a customer calls or introduces through a chat,” he said.
Nalakumar, meanwhile, allayed fears that the adoption of AI solutions in contact centers would mean job cuts for human agents.
“We’re still growing. We’re still hiring for the same customer base because the level of support for the customers has increased,” he said.
Is the Philippines ready?
Santos, Nalakumar, Lim and Merrall all agreed that the Philippines is ready to adopt AI solutions, with some of them remarking that Filipinos are already using AI in their daily lives.
“[AI adoption] is inevitable,” said Santos. “As communication becomes available to everyone, our customers become more demanding, asking for answers right away. So with that demand, I think efficiency should increase.”
For her part, Lim said, “[The pandemic] just launched us all forward into the biggest experiment of mankind, especially with technology. So I think now is a right place and a right time for us.”
A novel contact center solution
Philippine-based AI company Senti AI also introduced during the event a new contact center solution called Voix.
The AI solution can improve customer experience and operational efficiency with human-like conversational AI that understands Filipino, English, and Taglish.
It gives customers 24/7 access to immediate conversational self-service, while more complex issues are seamlessly handed off to human agents.
Voix also empowers human agents by providing them with continuous support during calls by identifying intent and providing them with real-time, step-by-step assistance.
The solution also uses natural language processing to identify call drivers and sentiment, helping contact center managers learn more about customer interactions to improve call outcomes.
“Yes, indeed, we are in unprecedented times,” Senti AI CEO Ralph Regalado said. “But this shouldn’t stop us from pursuing innovation. Though physical movements may have stopped in most of the world, but the world continues to spin — and so should we.”
The Voix Live!2020 webinar was co-presented by Google Cloud, PLDT Enterprise and PLDT Innolab.