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Agent efficiency and service personalization go hand-in-hand. After all, an organization can’t successfully connect with customers if it doesn’t assist those responsible for making the connections. Research suggests the current state of the agent experience is…well, dim.

According to Deloitte, only 9% of large contact centers effectively use desktop analytics and 61% struggle with integrating systems. According to Regalix, 67% of agents use 3-5 different applications during one customer interaction (something that can cost a typical contact center up to $1.57 million a year in lost productivity, according to Gartner). The numbers are stacked, but there is a silver lining: contact center AI.

New research from Vanson Bourne shows that the overwhelming majority (99%) of organizations are using some form of AI in the contact center with key objectives related to the agent experience. For example, enabling agents to more quickly access relevant customer data from multiple sources or more efficiently handling complex, multi-faceted calls. In fact, the No. 1 driver of contact center AI—more than improved FCR and revenue per contact—is greater agent productivity, cited by 53% of organizations.

Here are five ways AI can be used in the contact center to reduce agent effort and, subsequently, increase personalization, customer loyalty and revenue:

  1. Conversational Intelligence

It can be difficult to serve, let alone meaningfully engage, with customers when you don’t entirely know what they’re saying. A company could apply an AI technology like natural language processing to its IVR portal to create conversational speech applications that help sharpen agents’ understanding of what customers are saying for faster yet more heartfelt engagement.

For example, a customer could call into the contact center and say, “I have two questions about billing.” A conversational speech application would automatically detect the words “billing” and “two” (as opposed to “to” or “too,” which makes all the difference) and get the customer to the right agent who now also has a better understanding of the situation. The result: better comprehension among agents, less time repeating information for customers, reduced operational costs in the form of faster service, and an overall improved customer experience.  

  1. Sentiment Analysis

Real-time transcription of conversations can help agents not only better understand words that are being spoken but emotions that are being felt to drive more meaningful engagement. This might sound hippy dippy, but it’s one of the quickest and most efficient ways to understand customers’ needs and expectations.

Think about it: 84% of customers say being treated like a person, not a number, is critical to winning their business. How else are agents to understand at a deep and truly personal level how customers are feeling? Companies can even tailor engagement based on sentiment analysis from past interactions (ex: “I see last time you called you were really happy with the service upgrade you made, how’s everything going now?”). Monitoring sentiment during interactions in real-time is just one more way to help agents work more efficiently and improve overall customer outcomes.

  1. Smart Routing

Smart routing is critical for delivering a superior experience, pairing customers with the best-suited contact for better personalization and reducing the amount of effort agents typically exert during an interaction.

After analyzing customer data over a certain amount of time, companies can build intelligent machine learning algorithms that automatically pair customers with agents based on next-level drivers of satisfaction like emotion, relatability or sentiment. Agent effort is reduced by minimizing or even eliminating unnecessary transfers (or at the very least making handoffs as seamless as possible) while delivering truly personalized, contextual engagement based on the individual consumer. 

  1. AI-enhanced Desktop

Organizations can elevate the traditional desktop using machine learning to help agents better handle concerns, complaints and inquiries in real-time. Upon detecting certain phrases or words spoken, the same kind of learning algorithms described above can trigger pop-up applications or extended desktop capabilities that present additional, relevant information. This way, agents don’t have to waste time searching outside their main screen or through multiple systems of data to find an answer or make a change.

For example, if a customer says something to the effect of “I’m frustrated that my delivery is past due,” the words “frustrated” “delivery” and “past due” could trigger a special discount for the agent to offer to retain the customer. The result: less time for agents to deliver more targeted personalization (while enjoying more autonomy in offering unique or custom resolutions to customers) and higher customer satisfaction.

  1. Virtual Assistants

Just like those used at home, a virtual assistant can help agents reduce handle time, increase accuracy, maintain compliance and stay more engaged in their roles to deliver more personalized, meaningful experiences. For example, this kind of assistant can present real-time conversation transcriptions on the desktop to help agents maximize efficiency and engagement. Or, siphon off tedious or repetitive interactions so that when an agent does handle an engagement it’s of a more complex and interesting nature. The solution can also help with time-consuming after-call work to improve efficiency and lower operational costs.

By reducing agent effort and increasing personalization, contact center AI has been proven to improve average number of transfers per call, minimize time spent by supervisors assisting agents, meet a greater number of quality SLAs and, of course, create more meaningful human connections. To learn more about effectively adopting AI in the contact center, check out Vanson Bourne’s new research report, “AI: The De Facto for Contact Center Experience,” commissioned by Avaya.

The post Using AI to Reduce Agent Effort and Increase Service Personalization in Your Contact Center appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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Our industry, customers and company are undergoing perhaps the biggest challenge and transformation we have seen in our lifetime. Companies and governments around the world are analyzing, planning or executing the transformation of their businesses, propelled by new and emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Digital Workplaces, Enhanced Analytics, Internet of Things and others. We lump all these changes under one umbrella known as Digital Transformation.

It seems that everything is changing. We are constantly challenged by the unstoppable hunger of innovation and adopting new technology to achieve greater benefits for citizens, customers, and even entire countries. We are all facing a dramatic shift. I wanted to do more to experience this first-hand.

So, I packed my bags and temporarily moved from Mexico to Dubai as part of the Avaya Talent Exchange Program. I started in early February 2019, travelling 22 hours from Mexico City to Dubai. Why did I apply to the program?  I wanted to be part of sharing successful practices with other peers, work with sales teams in other regions and understand how they face the same or different challenges and successfully overcome them. I had an urge to work with an innovative leadership team and learn from their strategies. This program enables me to be better prepared for the challenges we face today and in the future.

And why Dubai? In my case, the destination was for both professional and personal reasons. It is a place for innovation and was entirely different culturally from what I had previously experienced. Dubai checked off those boxes for me.

Dubai as a city-state has a proven transformation success story and positions itself today and for the future. In just a generation’s time, Dubai evolved from a small city-state in the desert, dependent on trade heritage and oil explorations, into a leading business hub in the Middle-East and is part the seven Emirates of the UAE (United Arab Emirates). Dubai is run in a business-like fashion and its leader functions almost like a CEO of a company.

A key project during my time in the Talent Exchange Program is to work on a strategy for demonstrating innovative solutions called “Innovation Framework.” It enables the company, for example, to showcase the unique features and benefits of our Powered By Avaya IX unified communications platform and present these innovative solutions at events all over the region.

Our team of experts includes those in Sales Engineering, Specialists and Architects. They take innovation from the field organization and turn it into solutions that can be shared globally. The framework all starts with gathering ideas from different inputs (external and internally) that generate value and differentiation for our customers. These ideas then get developed into use-case concepts. Selected solution prototypes built in the innovation lab make their way to pilot testing with customers and eventually showcased at industry events like GITEX.

We also successfully “exported” from Dubai the new demonstration platform we use to showcase the latest innovations in UX, CX and automation. Mexico is now the first country outside of the Avaya International theater enabled with this new demonstration platform and we already see the benefit for events such as Avaya ENGAGE, and for our Digital Experience Centers and customer demos. With support from the team in Dubai, we also could make available new features for our Avaya phones and video devices.

With that in mind, I believe innovation should come from many areas inside of a company. At Avaya, evolutionary and innovative products and services are coming from our successful R&D group. The Innovation Framework adds to that a culture to live innovation as a mindset for all Avayans. Every employee should be able to actively participate in bringing up their ideas, and help to generate innovative products, services or processes. Leveraging this power is a big opportunity for Avaya.

Thank you to my team at home in Mexico who have supported me during the program and made it easy to continue to help with our business and projects, even with a sizable time difference (9 hours!) It’s a great experience to count on such a strong and reliable team. I have received a warm welcome from the Dubai team and I am forever changed by their hospitality and business spirit.

The post Innovation Is a Matter of Mindset appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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In February 2011, then Nokia CEO Stephen Elop wrote a candid and direct letter to the company’s 130K employees. In what has become known in business lore as “the burning platform email,” Elop likens Nokia’s current situation to a man waking up to a loud explosion while stationed on a now-burning oil platform in the middle of the North Sea. He explains that the man must make a choice: to either burn on the platform or jump 30 meters (100 feet) into freezing water. He decides to jump, surviving the fall and freezing water to eventually be rescued. The man’s behavior was extraordinary, yet as Elop explains, extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures.

At the time of the letter, things were not ordinary at Nokia. The company’s smartphone market share was around 24% which, while seemingly good, had been at a high of 48% just a few years earlier in 2007 (the year Apple introduced the first iPhone). Nokia’s share would plummet to 3% in 2013 (not down 3%, total 3%). In the letter, Elop wrote, “Our competitors aren’t taking market share with devices; they are taking market share with an entire ecosystem.” He continued, “Apple disrupted the market by redefining the smartphone and attracting developers.”

Apple is just one of many market leaders embracing an ecosystem approach that harnesses the power of developers for growth and innovation. Google, for example, has over 2 million active applications and websites leveraging its Google Maps API each week; an ecosystem that contributed to more than 300% growth of the service in just two years. Today, 70% of top performing companies strongly agree that the use of APIs is strategic and are investing in developer programs as a result. 

The power of an ecosystem is something that Avaya has long believed in, and established its DevConnect Program in the early 2000s. The mission of DevConnect is to create and support an unparalleled network of leading technology companies that build innovative third-party applications that extend the value of Avaya solutions. The program supports independent software vendors (ISVs), independent hardware vendors (IHVs), system integrators (SIs), service partners (SPs) and enterprise IT developers creating customer value through Avaya’s open and standards-based interfaces. 

Our customers benefit in being able to leverage the power of multiple innovators to quickly build custom applications. The program has grown to support over 100,000 developer partners and 350 DevConnect technology partners, many of which can be found in the DevConnect MarketPlace. Our customers ask for the ‘DevConnect Stamp,’ which represents tested solutions that we document with an application note that our customers and business partners know how to configure the solution. 

Avaya also has a related initiative called A.I.Connect, which brings together an ecosystem of vendors and developers that are taking an active part in building AI-driven solutions. Specifically, A.I.Connect aims to accelerate the adoption of AI solutions in the contact center and unified communications industries (research shows, for example, that 94% of organizations believe effective AI can transform the performance of their contact center).

A.I.Connect extends relationships we’ve had for more than a decade with our DevConnect partners, bringing a sharper focus to those companies that are already applying AI capabilities through products that interoperate and integrate with Avaya’s technology and product suites. We have solutions with Google, Salesforce, Afiniti, Nuance and Verint to name a few.

For example, Avaya’s partnership with Google blends Google’s Contact Center AI into our next-gen contact center technology to create an intelligent conversation experience between customer and agent. This integration effort can dramatically reshape the typical customer experience and have significant business implications for the future of customer engagement.

Eight years after Elop’s memo, his views on the importance of ecosystems are true now more than ever. In order for companies to succeed and compete, they must build strong ecosystems. Avaya continues to do this better than anyone in our industry.

The post The Brave New World of Open Ecosystems: How Every Business Can Benefit appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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New research from Vanson Bourne shows that almost all (99%) of organizations are using some form of artificial intelligence (AI) in the contact center. That’s great, but just how far along are they in their implementation, and how much further do they have to go? That, the data shows, is something entirely different. The research found that organizations using AI in the contact center are most likely to be only halfway through their implementation. All in all, the majority (70%) feel they are not getting the most out of AI in this area of their business.

Companies are at a delicate point in their rollout of AI where the path ahead of them splits into two. Executives must make the right decisions now to ensure success of a full and effective AI rollout; one that not only transforms the contact center but impacts essential functions enterprise-wide (47% feel they aren’t able to effectively apply AI in any part of their organization).

So, what’s stalling adoption of AI in the contact center? How can executives ensure a full and effective rollout in this area of business and beyond? Let’s break things down…

Top Barriers of Contact Center AI

According to Vanson Bourne:

  • 74% of companies lack understanding of AI and/or the skills in-house to facilitate AI adoption
  • 40% have data protection and regulatory fears
  • 32% feel they are stifled by underperforming existing IT infrastructure
  • 36% struggle with lack of data and/or disparate data
  • About 30% feel they don’t understand AI because of inaccurate reporting on its capabilities and/or the over-reporting of AI “scare stories”

While it’s good that most organizations are using AI to some degree in the contact center, it seems fear and misunderstanding are driving future decision-making. To overcome that, let’s move onto what’s needed for effectively rolling out AI.

Your Best Strategy

According to Vanson Bourne, 24% of organizations’ AI solution is or will be exclusively developed in-house, with the same amount (24%) planning to have their solution fully developed by a third-party. The majority (52%) are looking to a mix of in-house and third-party AI development. Overall, 85% agree that they will need stronger third-party support as AI becomes more prominent. Here’s what you can start doing today:

Seek freedom of cloud deployment: Executives need freedom of cloud deployment to be able to invest in different delivery models where it makes the most sense across their organization depending on specific applications and needs (not every application is meant to be on the same cloud, if at all). This enables you to gain access to the AI-based functionality you need without having to rip and replace existing contact center systems, while keeping other apps and workloads on-premise as required.

Explore an application ecosystem: This environment provides access to seemingly endless “click-to-add” AI-based apps and features for creating a custom-fit contact center that meets the exact needs of customers and employees. Internally collected data can be leveraged with these apps and features to expand the use of AI enterprise-wide, helping organizations with such things as tracking financial analytics and performance management for HR.  

Prioritize a holistic contact center approach: End-to-end portfolio integration allows executives to seamlessly expand their use of AI across the enterprise. You can focus on the many crucial aspects of contact center transformation—AI-enhanced desktop, omni-channel, contextual analytics—while applying AI to other departments that are not as likely to be using the technology. For example, analyzing social trends in the CRM for marketing purposes or transcribing contact center conversations for sales to send more targeted follow-up messages.

In the End

Over 80% of executives believe that failing to get on board with AI now will cost their organization over the next decade. Learn more about the current state of AI in the contact center with Vanson Bourne’s new research report, “AI: The De Facto for Contact Center Experience,” commissioned by Avaya.

The post The State of AI in the Contact Center 2019 appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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Does hybrid cloud—a mixture of public and private cloud models—make the most sense for your organization?

No one cloud model is better than another, but the hybrid option could be best for meeting your specific needs. If you’re on the fence, ask yourself…

  • Do you have a somewhat-new UC or CC voice product that you want to preserve while still moving to a cloud model?
  • Do you have multiple branch offices? If so, would you benefit from being able to use both private and public cloud to address needs across these different locations?
  • Do you need better communications resilience? By this, we mean having an active system that workers connect to on a daily basis and also a backup cloud in the event of an outage or other issue occurring (all while having an identical user experience).
  • Do you have trouble sizing communications correctly? If you’re in retail, for example, do you have trouble accommodating peak volumes outside of normal operations when extra capacity is needed?

If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you may want to consider a hybrid cloud deployment.

The term “hybrid” has a much broader definition in the communications industry. UC and CC are not like single-service workloads but instead composed of numerous functions that intelligently work together. This enables businesses to use hybrid cloud to deploy what they want, where they want for whatever reason they want. In other words, complete freedom to operate and innovate on your terms.

Learn more about your cloud options (and how to seamlessly move to full UC and CC solutions) with ZK Research’s new report, “A Buyer’s Guide to Cloud Communications.”

The post When is Hybrid Cloud the Better Choice? appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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Have you ever seen an ant mill? It’s a bizarre phenomenon in which a group of ants continuously circle until they eventually collapse from exhaustion. Being mostly blind, ants leave pheromone trails so that others in the colony know where they’ve been. When migrating, the first ant in line leaves a trail for the rest to follow. If that trail gets broken, the ants will scramble. They’ll follow each other’s pheromones, marching in circles, until they drop.

It can be argued that some businesses do the same in terms of digital transformation. When it comes to migrating systems, changing processes or improving culture, it can be easy for decision-makers to blindly follow trends versus doing what makes the most sense for their organization. As opposed to carving out their own perfect path to transformation, they adopt an “army ant” mentality that can have significant consequences.

This is one of the main reasons I was excited to join Avaya; to promote the idea of people thinking differently to achieve breakthrough change. To stop companies from endlessly circling and instead to start strategically thinking about experiences that matter to their customers and employees.

In speaking with countless customers, it became clear to me that companies needed a way to be pulled out of the organizational ant mill. That’s when I came up with the concept of the three P’s: preference, personal, and predictive. These three elements are core to meaningful customer experience and, subsequently, digital transformation:

  1. Preference: A recent study from Periscope, a unit of McKinsey, found that companies consider “a well-defined cross or multi-channel strategy” their top innovation for driving digital growth. Every customer has a different preference in terms of how they communicate with a brand. How are you working to handle the 70% of people who call into the contact center using their mobile device? Or, the 45% who prefer communicating with a live person for more complex interactions? The most basic element of a meaningful experience is paying attention to the devices and communication channels that a customer prefers to use and ensuring that the experience is consistent regardless of how conversations are initiated or escalated across the organization. 
  2. Personal: With this basic understanding of preference, brands should work to connect with customers on a more personal level. Overall, research shows that 81% of customers want brands to better understand them to know when and how to approach them. This could mean knowing who a customer is before the first “hello” is spoken so that introductions don’t have to be made every time. Or, intelligently routing customers based on next-level variables like personality, emotion or relatability to drive deeper connections while reducing exhaustive efforts of getting callers to the right agent. Contact centers need to shift from a “first in, first out” mentality to one of sincerity and relationship-building. This means focusing less on adding new customers and more on growing with an existing customer base. The fact remains that if you take care of your customers, they will always feel connected to you and will keep buying from you.
  1. Predictive: With this understanding of customers at the individual account level, it’s time to start anticipating their needs. How can you stay ahead of some of the things they might be thinking about? This could be knowing when a customer will need to purchase again or might be looking for something new. Or, automatically routing a customer to a certain team or specialist based on interaction insights collected over a certain amount of time. Brands should be inspired to help customers in a way they didn’t even realize they needed. After all: the best experience is the one that the customer never has to ask for. This is all well and good, but how can these digital initiatives be achieved? In short, an open IT ecosystem that seamlessly integrates unified communications, contact center and emerging new technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), and data analytics. Here are just a few of the possibilities within this kind of environment: 
  •  AI-based analyses can be used to observe how customers interact to drive “next best action,” enabling companies to decide what action to take for a particular customer based on a particular issue.
  •  Interaction insights can help brands intelligently route customers based on next-level variables like personality, relatability and emotion.
  •  Machine learning technology can be applied around customer conversations—whether text- or voice-based—to better understand the types of experiences customers are having in a specific communication channel. Brands can pinpoint the top things customers are saying or top issues being reached out about to more intelligently serve them.
  •  Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) can store biometric information like face or voice recognition, binding a customer’s profile to his or her smart device, and then use that identity to automatically authenticate callers. This reduces the potential for problems and provides an improved, more frictionless experience for customers.
  •  Seamless omni-channel provides customers with fast and efficient self-service across the channels they prefer, with the option to elevate to a live agent when needed.

If you find yourself circling, the three P’s is a great concept for getting unstuck. It’s also a great reminder that when it comes to digital transformation, experiences matter most. I truly believe Avaya enables these experiences like no other. If you want to learn more about these three elements or have any other questions, reach out to the Avaya Sales team.

The post The Three P’s: A Mantra for Meaningful Digital Transformation appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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As the white-hot core of customer experience, the contact center needs to fundamentally evolve for organizations to remain competitive in an increasingly digital world. But what kind of changes are we talking about? What does this “new contact center” look like? Research suggests five essential investments for navigating the contact center of the future:

  1. Effortless self-service: Gartner predicts that by 2023, customers will prefer to use speech interfaces to initiate 70% of self-service interactions, rising from 40% in 2019. Powerful self-service automation capabilities provide simple, easy-to-navigate conversational interfaces that improve the accuracy, efficiency and effectiveness of self-service. If a customer decides to escalate the interaction, an agent will be prepared with all context of the conversation including communication and transaction history. In this way, “effortless self-service” means augmenting—not replacing—human connections; it recognizes the importance of both physical and digital along the customer journey.
  1. Agent augmentation: With so much emphasis on the customer experience, it can be easy for brands to overlook the experience their employees need for effectively serving customers. The contact center of the future will empower agents with modern desktops that allow quick access to information without having to search or leave their main screen (research shows that agent screen jumping costs a typical contact center $1.57 million a year in lost productivity). This includes intelligent virtual assistants that can siphon off repetitive or tedious interactions to keep agents productive, immersed and engaged (according to Dimension Data, 62% of executives expect virtual assistants to have a place in their companies within the next two years).
  1. Interaction insights: According to Accenture, 81% of customers want brands to understand them better to know when and how to approach them. Organizations must move from communication to conversation to drive the greater level of personalization customers demand. This means using real-time conversational analysis to better understand the types of experiences customers are having across communication channels (top trends, preferences, issues occurring). It also means analyzing these conversations to improve the agent experience, gaining a better understanding of their preferences, overall satisfaction, and where they may struggle with things like limitations in applications, procedures or policies.
  1. Smart Pairing: Needless agent transfers remain one of if not the greatest frustrations within the contact center. Interaction insights can be used to intelligently pair customers with agents based on key business insights (i.e. communication history, conversation patterns) and characteristics (i.e. sentiment, relatability, emotion) to drive more meaningful human connection while increasing revenue and lowering labor costs. At a bank, for example, a caller could be routed to a money management expert based on the fact that the last five questions asked via live chat were about account spending. Smart pairing helps avoid exhaustive efforts to get people to the right service rep and/or channel, accelerating outcomes and increasing the likelihood of loyalty and advocacy.
  1. Application ecosystem: An application ecosystem approach enables organizations to flexibly assess the contact center technologies they need for providing incredible customer and agent experiences. They can gain access to seemingly endless “click-to-add” apps and features (i.e. speech analytics, advanced reporting, smart routing, knowledge management, robotic process automation) to create a custom-fit contact center environment that meets the exact needs of their employees and customers. Gartner predicts that by 2025, the average contact center organization will be exploiting the benefits of an application ecosystem approach to better equip staff and enhance service.

There’s one thing all these investments have in common: artificial intelligence (AI). AI is driving truly revolutionary capabilities in the contact center that play into the sweeping trend of digital transformation, with most organizations now using some form of AI in this area of business. When implemented effectively, AI in the contact center reduces costs, improves revenues, strengthens workforce performance, and, above all, drives more meaningful human connection. The contact center of the future is built on AI, to the point that 81% of brands believe failing to get on board with AI now will cost them for the next decade.

The contact center will experience more change in the next 10 years than the next 100. Come visit us at Customer Contact Week 2019, taking place in Las Vegas from June 24-28, to learn more about these essential investments and see them in action for enabling the contact center of the future.

The post Contact Center of the Future: 5 Essential Investments appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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Digital transformation is about creating experiences that matter, but what does this look like within the contact center? Effortless self-service, agent augmentation, interaction insights, smart pairing…nowhere close to what one vendor alone offers today. This is where we see the benefits of an application ecosystem approach, which allows organizations to flexibly assess and adopt the technologies and changes needed for providing incredible customer and agent experiences. Gartner predicts that by 2025, the average contact center organization will be exploiting these benefits to better equip staff and enhance service. 

What’s driving this move to an ecosystem approach? According to Gartner:

  • Many vendors are narrowly focusing on getting the customer connected, overlooking other critical aspects of superior experiences that organizations need.
  • Companies want the operational and financial flexibility of a usage-based model versus an ownership-based model. They want to be free of the technology refresh cycle to more quickly adapt and innovate.
  • Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) have become foundational to the contact center of the future. The overwhelming majority of organizations are now leveraging some form of AI in this area of business.

Additionally, an Avaya research study conducted by Vanson Bourne (link) finds that 93% of global organizations surveyed identify AI as one of the most important technologies for their contact center, and that 85% will need to look for more third-party support in order to get the most out of AI. The next 10 years will see more change to the contact center than the previous 100. An application ecosystem provides access to seemingly endless “click-to-add” apps and features (i.e. additional AI, speech analytics, advanced reporting, smart routing, robotic process automation) to create a custom-fit contact center environment that meets the exact needs of employees and customers—today, tomorrow and forever.

Avaya has been working hard to support our customers for this paradigm shift, enabling an expansive application marketplace for building this contact center of the future. Most recently, we announced the general availability of Avaya integration with Google Cloud to provide organizations with the level of flexibility, efficiency and scalability they need to deploy powerful, simplified, AI-enhanced communication and collaboration solutions that transform the customer and agent experience.

Some key innovations within this partnership include:

    • Virtual Agents: Virtual assistant technology is a key driver of the global contact center software market’s projected CAGR of 22% between 2019 and 2024. These human-like automated bots can seamlessly interact with customers, assisting them with simpler inquiries while offloading agents until they are needed. Should a customer want to escalate a bot conversation to a live person, all context gathered during the interaction will be made easily accessible to the agent.
    • Agent Assist: AI-enhanced applications can assist agents with improved knowledge management, providing the right information at the right time; real-time conversational analysis (both for text- and voice-based interactions) to better understand things like sentiment and intention to deliver more meaningful service; and AI algorithms for determining “next best action.”
    • Conversational Topic Modeling: Google Topic Modeling combined with Avaya AI enables agents to leverage real-time visibility of topics with each conversation turn. This helps achieve desired impact with an understanding of key trends and patterns in communications to recommend responses, facilitate best actions, and uniquely tailor every customer conversation.

Yet this is just one of many advancements we’ve made to enhance our Avaya IXTM Contact Center solution portfolio. We extended collaboration with Avaya A.I. Connect Partner, Nuance, to enable new self-service automation capabilities within our IX Contact Center solutions. This deepened integration provides additional speech enhancements—leveraging the latest in AI-driven machine learning speech recognition capabilities—for businesses to better personalize customer interactions, reducing friction and customer frustration.

Sestek—a leader in voice biometrics, speech recognition, text-to-speech and conversational AI—also recently joined the Avaya DevConnect ecosystem, which will enable our customers to leverage everything from ready-made solutions validated for interoperability to custom-tailored contact center applications.

As they say: if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together. Avaya believes in making its platforms friendly to innovative third-party tech leaders to deliver the utmost value to customers and their end-users. This application ecosystem is the future of the contact center, and it’s a vision we stand behind. These recent advancements and integration partnerships paint the picture of how we’re fortifying our customers’ contact center strategies.  

Is your interest piqued? It should be. Come visit us at Customer Contact Week 2019, taking place in Las Vegas from June 24-28, to see Avaya’s ecosystem in action for enabling the contact center of the future. #CCWVegas19, #ExperiencesThatMatter

The post Application Ecosystems and the Future of the Contact Center appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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According to Vanson Bourne, 58% of organizations are currently in the implementation stage of artificial intelligence (AI) with plans for further expansion. It’s during this planned expansion that brands expect to see the greatest benefits of AI such as improved customer and agent experiences and higher annual revenue. What does this planned expansion of AI look like, and why are companies taking so long to get there?

It’s important to note that many are still in the first and most critical step of AI implementation, which is investing in the initial collection and analysis of data. This requires a sort of data sanitation process to ensure complete accuracy, as well as system consolidation to eliminate data silos (consider that the average organization still operates around four CRM systems). This is arguably the greatest delay to planned expansion of AI, yet an understandable one.

Organizations with accurate, “clean” data sets are then able to identify what information should be collected to derive key insights that improve decision-making. This is when brands can take the leap from implementation to planned expansion of AI across the enterprise. Here are three of seemingly endless ways they can do so:

  1. Automated self-service: The machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) technology behind AI-enabled devices like Alexa and Google Home can be leveraged to build more intuitive self-service automation platforms similar to traditional voice IVR. Machine learning can also be applied around customer conversations to better understand the types of experiences customers are having in a specific communication channel. This can help brands pinpoint the top things customers are saying or top issues being reached out about.
  1. Agent assistance: In this same way, AI can be applied to make the agent experience more easily navigable with improved workflows. For example, what tools do agents use most for making a sale? Troubleshooting an activity or case? Handling a customer inquiry? AI-based analyses can be used to determine what agents need most and when they need it, improving their overall experience (and subsequently, that of their customers).
  1. Smart routing based on interaction insights: AI-based analyses can be used to recognize how customers are interacting and what interaction points they are using to anticipate needs and more intelligently engage. For example, if you know this is the fifth time a customer has called into the contact center for a specific issue, you might want to set a rule that escalates that individual somewhere else (say, a certain specialist or your retention-risk team). Machine learning technology on the backend is able to determine the effectiveness of those routing outcomes, enabling you to adapt and improve accordingly.

According to Vanson Bourne, 70% of organizations believe adopting AI is no longer optional but a necessity. If you want to adopt AI more across your organization but don’t know how, schedule a Discovery Workshop with Avaya Professional Services. We’ll help you identify the key areas of your business where AI can have the greatest impact up front and execute plans accordingly.

You can Learn more here. Additionally, Avaya will be showcasing its new AI solutions and more, at its booth (Pavilion 2) at the Customer Contact Week event taking place June 24-28, in Las Vegas, NV.

The post Driving Planned Expansion of AI Across Your Enterprise appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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According to ZK Research, cloud unified communications is growing seven times faster than on-premises solutions. Cloud communications is moving into its next wave of existence, and it’s critical that IT leaders understand the benefits aside from cost.

Legacy unified communications systems lack the capabilities that a digital business needs, period. Constantly updating a hardware-centric system just to keep up with the latest innovations is impractical at best. To achieve success in today’s digital era, companies must evolve their unified communications to a cloud delivery model. Here are five key benefits of doing so:

  1. Location independence: Access any feature from anywhere on any device; essentially eliminate the need to ever step foot in a physical office again.
  2. Faster innovation: Use new features as soon as they’re available instead of having to wait months or even years to go through the testing and refresh process.
  3. Economic efficiency: Provision what you need immediately, then add resources when required.
  4. Advanced features built on artificial intelligence: AI fuels innovation and agility, yet legacy systems don’t have the processing capability to perform AI at the scale necessary to deliver the advanced services businesses need (i.e. facial recognition, analytics).
  5. Rapid deployment for faster time to market: Digital transformation requires speed, and legacy communications are the antithesis of this. Cloud UC services can be rolled out as fast as an organization is comfortable doing so (buckle up!)

In today’s digital world, maintaining a competitive edge is tied to an organization’s ability to recognize market shifts and respond quickly. It’s impossible to get ahead using hardware-centric systems that aren’t designed for rapid innovation. 

Learn more about cloud-fueled digital success and how to seamlessly move to cloud-delivered UC and contact center solutions with ZK Research’s new report, “A Buyer’s Guide to Cloud Communications.”

The post Five Key Benefits of Moving Unified Communications to the Cloud appeared first on Avaya Connected Blog.

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