AI has been implemented in business phone systems for several years, with increasing adoption in recent years as AI technologies have become more advanced and accessible. Some of the earliest implementations of AI in business phone systems date back to the early 2000s, when speech recognition technology was first introduced to automate certain aspects of call center operations.
Here's a few examples on how AI is being used in business phone systems today.
Intelligent call routing
AI algorithms can analyze incoming calls and use data such as the caller's location, language, and previous interactions with the business to route the call to the most appropriate agent or department. This helps to reduce wait times and improve customer satisfaction.
Natural language processing (NLP)
NLP allows business phone systems to understand and respond to spoken or written language. AI-powered virtual assistants can interact with customers through voice or text and provide information or help with common issues, freeing up human agents to handle more complex inquiries.
AI-powered speech analytics can analyze recordings of customer calls to identify patterns, such as common issues or complaints. This helps businesses to improve their customer service and identify areas for improvement.
AI algorithms can use historical data to predict customer behavior, such as the likelihood of a customer making a purchase or canceling a service. This helps businesses to anticipate customer needs and personalize their interactions.
AI-powered sentiment analysis can analyze the tone and sentiment of customer conversations to identify customers who may be dissatisfied or at risk of churning. This allows businesses to proactively address issues and retain customers.
Cons of AI to evaluate in a business phone system
While there are many benefits to using AI in a business phone system, there are also some potential drawbacks to consider.
Dependence on Technology: Businesses that rely heavily on AI in their phone systems may become overly dependent on technology, which can be a problem if there are technical issues or outages. This can result in decreased productivity, missed opportunities, and frustrated customers. If you heavily rely on AI, it's that much more important you invest in a phone system carrier that also offers good customer service with fast resolutions.
Lack of Personal Touch: While AI can automate many routine tasks and provide quick answers to frequently asked questions, it can't replicate the touch of a fellow human that some customers prefer. This can lead to a disconnect between your business and customers, and may negatively impact customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Privacy and Security Concerns: The use of AI in business phone systems can raise privacy and security concerns, particularly if sensitive customer information is being collected and processed by AI algorithms. Your business must be diligent in protecting customer data and ensuring that AI is being used in compliance with relevant regulations.
Cost: Implementing AI in a business phone system can be costly, particularly for smaller businesses that may not have the resources to invest in sophisticated AI technology. This can create a barrier to entry and limit access to these tools for some businesses.
Lack of Flexibility: While AI can automate many routine tasks, it may not be able to handle more complex issues or unusual situations. This can limit the flexibility of the business phone system and require human intervention, which can be time-consuming and costly.
VoIP carriers who offer AI features
Many VoIP carriers offer AI-powered features and services to enhance their business phone systems. Here's a few to consider.
Vonage: Vonage offers an AI-powered virtual assistant called "Vonage Virtual Assistant" which can handle routine tasks such as call routing, appointment scheduling, and order processing. It also uses natural language processing to interact with customers through voice or text.
RingCentral: RingCentral uses AI algorithms for call routing, sentiment analysis, and speech recognition. Its virtual assistant, "RingCentral Engage," can handle basic customer inquiries and escalate more complex issues to human agents.
8x8: 8x8 offers an AI-powered virtual agent called "8x8 Intelligent Customer Assistant," which can handle routine tasks such as appointment scheduling, order processing, and information retrieval. It uses natural language processing and machine learning to improve its performance over time.
Dialpad: Dialpad uses AI-powered voice recognition and natural language processing to transcribe and analyze calls in real-time. Its virtual assistant, "Dialpad AI," can handle basic customer inquiries and provide personalized recommendations based on customer behavior.
Cisco Webex: Cisco Webex uses AI algorithms for intelligent call routing, sentiment analysis, and speech recognition. Its virtual assistant, "Webex Assistant," can handle basic customer inquiries and automate routine tasks such as scheduling and note-taking.
Communicaton is key
If your a company who uses the phone regularly, it's crucial to invest in the right hardware. Headsets oftentimes are an afterthought or not a thought at all! Until your IT team starts to hear the complaints, or managers listen back to call recording and notice reps on the phone sound terrible, or all the background is being picked up. The last experience you want is your customer hearing you like a 1990 call center.
Using a headset is crucial for several reasons:
Better sound quality: Work headsets are made for just that... work! you'll get much better sound quality in comparison to using your built in laptop microphone or speakerphone. Work headsets are created to filter out background noise and improve your voice clarity, so you're easier to hear. All headsets are not created equal either. The last thing you want is inconsistent sound quality between your company on the phone with important customers. Standardizing on a few models best made for work that your team can pick from is the way to go.
Hands-free: By being hands free you can multitask and do your job better by being able to type or take notes while on a call.
Comfort and Pain free: Instead of cradling a phone on your neck, a headset will reduce strain on your neck and shoulders. Today there's more wearing stle choices than ever, so if you're someone whose tried a headset in the past that was uncomfortable or made you feel like you're wearing a space helmet, contact us today to give headsets another look.
Privacy: Just like no one wants to hear you on a personal phone call using speakerphone in a waiting room, or in line at a grocery store, co-workers don't want to hear your business calls outloud either. It's extremely distracting, unprofessional and adds to the noise levels that kill productivity.
Mobility: If you invest in a wireless headset, you can freely move around to be more productive, and gives you reason to get up from your desk to avoid sitting all day. Being able to get up and multitask in an office allows you to consult with colleagues or access documents without having to put callers on hold, or interrupt the conversation.
While AI can offer many benefits in a business phone system, human touch is still necessary. Therefore, it's best to use a mix of AI and humans in your business phone system to provide the best possible customer experience.
AI can handle many routine tasks, such as call routing and answering frequently asked questions, freeing up human agents to handle more complex issues.
However, there are situations where a human touch is still necessary, such as when a customer needs to speak with a live agent to resolve a complex issue with empathy and emotional support. A robot can't replicate the same personalization of a fellow human.
By using a mix of AI and humans in a business phone system, your business can provide a more efficient and personalized customer experience while also improving productivity and reducing costs. It's important to strike the right balance between AI and human agents to ensure that customers receive the best possible service.