How 8×8 uses conversational AI to improve customer, employee dialogues

This syndicated post originally appeared at Latest articles for ZDNET by zeus-kerravala.

New contact center tools analyze conversations and extract insights from dialogues to understand customers’ needs.

It’s been well documented that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation initiatives. ZK Research data found that 74% of companies have moved digital initiatives up by at least one year. Most modernization projects tend to revolve around customer experience (CX), which makes sense, given CX is now the top brand differentiator.

A single bad experience can lead to a lost customer and a damaged brand reputation. One thing that’s often overlooked is that employee experience (EX) and CX are tied together because customer interactions are still commonly handled by people. A bad EX frustrates users, keeps customers on hold and leads to a bad CX. Many businesses have over-rotated on CX and need to swing the pendulum back to focus on both.

Last week at the Enterprise Connect event, 8×8, a provider of enterprise cloud-based communications solutions, unveiled two easily deployable tools with a simple user interface to help organizations improve both the customer and the employee experience.

Conversation IQ brings contact center capabilities to all users

The first tool, Conversation IQ, extends contact center capabilities — such as quality management and speech analytics — to all 8×8 cloud communications users. As the name implies, the tool uses conversational artificial intelligence (AI) to extract insights from dialogues. Conversation IQ is delivered via 8×8’s eXperience communications as a service (XCaaS), which brings together unified communications as a service (UCaaS) and contact center as a service (CCaaS) in a single cloud platform.

Conversation IQ can be utilized by any person performing any role within an organization, whether it’s the contact center, front desk, or back office. The tool is designed for organizations that want to oversee, evaluate, score and analyze user-to-user and user-to-customer voice interactions. Organizations don’t need to have a contact center, professional services, or separate multi-vendor apps to employ the tool. It can be installed straight out of the box and customized for every user.

Once installed, Conversation IQ automatically transcribes employee and customer interactions. Supervisors and managers can review the interactions using keyword search, topic trend reporting and AI-driven sentiment analysis. This data can then be used to understand how effectively agents are serving customers. For instance, sentiment analysis identifies changes in emotion and behavior during interactions with customers to improve the experience in the future.

The tool also highlights and tags conversations, including voice conversations on Microsoft Teams through the 8×8 Voice for Microsoft Teams integration. When it comes to user-to-user interactions, managers can ensure that employees are staying productive while adhering to company policies. This is especially useful for organizations that must comply with regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).

Agent Workspace brings UCaaS and CCaaS together

The second announcement, 8×8 Agent Workspace, is a browser-based app that combines contact center and unified communications capabilities. It goes beyond simple customer relationship management (CRM) integrations and screen pops. Agent Workspace provides immediate access to tools like 8×8 Work, which can be installed on a desktop or smartphone to enable voice communications, video meetings, and team messaging. It’s an extension of 8×8’s XCaaS capabilities for remote and hybrid work environments.

Agent Workspace, which leverages XCaaS, supports the changing needs of today’s contact center agents by connecting all types of interactions. It equips agents with automated workflows and a seamless experience across different channels. Omnichannel support provided by the app includes chat, email, SMS, social media, and messaging. Contact center agents have all these features available in one interface, so conversation history moves with the customer from channel to channel.

Every organization should be focusing on the user experience, Dhwani Soni, 8×8’s vice president of product management and user experience design, told ZK Research in an interview. For contact center agents, this means having access to an easy-to-use interface where they can locate relevant information about customers. As a result, agents are able to personalize interactions with every customer and enhance not only the customer experience but also the agent experience.

According to Soni, that’s the value of XCaaS — it drives efficiency, productivity, and engagement. Customers expect exceptional service across all digital channels, which requires modernizing the contact center to keep up with customer demands.

Traditionally, communications and contact center capabilities were siloed in certain parts of the enterprise. Now organizations can take advantage of XCaaS to extend these capabilities to a broader user base without having to overhaul their current infrastructure.

Author: Zeus Kerravala

Zeus Kerravala is the founder and principal analyst with ZK Research. Kerravala provides a mix of tactical advice to help his clients in the current business climate and long term strategic advice.