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IBM Watson launches new automation features for customer service

By adding new features in Watson Assistant, technology giant IBM hopes to help businesses businesses leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and National Language Processing (NLP) to address customer issues on first contact.

According to IBM’s 2021 Global AI Adoption Index Morning Consult on behalf of IBM: “Global AI Adoption Index 2021” (May 2021), 52% of global IT professionals surveyed report that their company is using or considering NLP solutions to improve customer experiences.

The latest enhancements in IBM Watson Assistant, the company’s intelligent virtual agent. will enable businesses to create enhanced customer service experiences across any channel: phone, web, SMS, and any messaging platform.

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“One critical challenge facing nearly every business today is the need to better communicate with their customers and employees across all channels,” said Daniel Hernandez, GM of Data and AI, IBM. “We’re continuously delivering new innovations in natural language processing, automation and advancing responsible AI, and building a strong, open ecosystem with partners like IntelePeer to help businesses transform customer care with Watson Assistant.”

In collaboration with IntelePeer, a Communications Platform-as-a-Service (CPaaS) provider, Watson Assistant businesses will be able to set up and test a voice agent and utilize a new agent app designed to enable a seamless hand-off to a live agent while maintaining the conversation’s context.

The IntelePeer Atmosphere CPaaS is now available as an add-on in Watson Assistant so that users with a Plus and Enterprise plan can set up voice capabilities and a new phone number for a virtual agent quickly. If businesses already have an existing contact center phone system, IntelePeer can also provide the connection between Watson Assistant and the existing phone system using industry standards. Using IntelePeer, Watson Assistant is now designed to connect to nearly every major contact center platform that uses the SIP protocol in as little as half an hour with no coding.

Watson Assistant’s Search Skill feature now includes short-answer retrieval, which is based on an innovative question-answering (QA) system from IBM Research. This enables the virtual agent to return an answer — in a few words — from longer sentences or passages and provide the context on where the answer came from. FAQ extraction is also now generally available in Search Skill. FAQ extraction is designed to help administrators keep the virtual agent up to date with broader sources of information, without having to constantly make manual updates.

Watson Assistant’s new agent app feature is designed to help customer service agents pick up with a customer right where the virtual agent left off. When a customer calls in, IBM’s speech detection models, which are designed to provide more accurate transcriptions out-of-the-box, deliver a near real-time transcription of the conversation. When the hand-off occurs, the new agent app provides the customer service agent with the latest transcript right on their screen. This means customers don’t have to repeat their questions and agents are empowered to resolve issues even more quickly.