More and more companies are trying out systems designed to provide that kind of progress. The most prominent example is Google. In the middle of last year, at its I/O developer conference, Google showed how its virtual assistant – “Google Assistant” – can make hair salon appointments and restaurant reservations (see link). In this case, the AI system was the caller. Needless to say, however, an AI-based voice system can also make a good service provider. With such systems, service helplines can do away with Q&A pages and forms, and relieve their human customer advisors of many mundane tasks (including the task of having to placate angry customers – such systems can also benefit helpline staff’s nerves!).
Think of a health-insurance provider that has to process 40 or 50 thousand calls a day. Many of the calls involve standard concerns, such as requests for new health-insurance cards, address changes and questions about coverage and premiums. Such calls tend to follow well-known patterns. They can thus easily be handled by digital assistants, i.e. by chatbots.
In a typical call scenario, the bot would ask the caller to state their insurance number. The bot would then open the caller’s file and guide the caller, via a naturally sounding Q&A menu, in classifying their concern. If the classification leads to a standard type of concern such as “replacement for my insurance card,” the bot immediately initiates the relevant service process. If it leads to a more complicated concern, such as an involved question about dental coverage, the bot hands the caller over to a human colleague. And that human colleague has time for a productive discussion, because their virtual colleague has relieved them of all the standard tasks. So, this is a winning scenario for all sides.