This blog is the second in a two-part series co-authored by myself and my colleague Sarah Johnson. Be sure to check out Part One for the remainder of the ten technologies to consider.

Part Two

Hybrid Services – Integrating cloud services with existing on-premises customer care services is currently a hot topic, not just in the contact center domain but throughout Unified Collaboration and other IT groups. Hybrid Services architectures allow our Cisco IT teams to deploy some of the latest cloud technology, while knowing the investment made in the present premise environment can be leveraged. Currently here in Cisco IT we’re exploring several options for our internal contact centers.

As mentioned in the previous blog,  one of the newest features being reviewed by our IT team is Cisco’s cloud-based Context Service offering. Another possible Hybrid integration Cisco IT is looking at in the next 12-18 months, includes utilizing Tropo technology with our existing platform. Tropo, a Cisco acquisition, offers automation of communications (SMS, Voice, Text Messaging, Recording, etc) via the cloud becomes easy leveraging Tropo technology.  Another option allows for agents who utilize Cisco Finesse to send SMS messages at a customer’s request.

The sky is the limit with Hybrid Services. If you haven’t thought about a hybrid environment you should start investigating them now. You may find out there are new Cloud based products that allow you to leverage the latest new features while integrating with your premise environment.

The Internet of Things (IoT) – The capability of routing non-traditional contact center tasks to your agents is now a reality. IoT has arrived and millions of devices are being added to the internet daily. Sensors track information about devices and are able to provide alerts with detailed information about products. Devices built with sensors may include such items as home security products, air conditioning systems, bank fraud detection, routers, switches, etc. If required, the sensors can route these alerts through Contact Center platforms for agent handling and disposition.

Cisco in the fall of 2016, as part of the Unified Contact Center Enterprise (UCCE) 11.5 release, added the Task Routing API feature to the product line. The Task Routing API allows for routing contacts that are not part of the normal Cisco Product Set to your agents. It’s innovative and allows for endless possibilities of improving the customer experience. We expect this capability to help our Cisco IT teams solve our customer problems with some creative solutions.

Voice Biometrics – Many of us only opt for contact customer service via telephone as a last resort. The dreaded voice channel – the automated voice menus that have more layers than a wedding cake, sitting in queue listening to dreadful music for minutes on end, multiple transfers to connect with someone who has the answer you need. If it’s been a while since you’ve called into a customer service hotline, you might notice some changes. Among them, speaker recognition or voice biometrics.

As we continue to fight fraud and increase security in all layers of our organizations, the customer care division is not immune to these attacks. Have you had a business you call take your voice print? The enrollment process which is typically an opt-in process you are offered during an IVR interaction, includes repeating a phrase multiple times, such as “My voice is my password”, which is stored and analyzed for multiple factors – pitch, tone, panic detection, etc. Voice biometrics is difficult to fake because it is uniquely you, in fact, solutions can identify your live voice vs. a recording of your voice, the latter of which will fail the authentication layer and prevent attempted fraudulent access. By authenticating a caller by their unique voice print and matching not only an account number, ANI or other piece of data, companies are able to perform a multi-layered authentication that increases the likelihood that the caller is who they say they are and should be granted access to sensitive, valuable, and private information.

Virtual Assistants – Virtual assistants can provide self-service in channels like chat and voice. For example, a virtual assistant can provide a caller with an update on their case status while a live agent can focus on more unique and complex issues. These virtual assistants can be well armed with a wealth of information to provide an answer or a resolution without needing to engage a customer service rep or live agent. Virtual assistants are a valuable tool to offload easy or repetitive questions whose answers can be easily identified and anticipated. Often it is the same virtual assistant with access to the same knowledge base of information that interacts with a customer, whether it is through a voice of chat channel. This provides a continuity of experience for the customer, regardless of the channel they choose. Often these virtual assistants include the capacity for machine learning which they use to improve or refine their responses based on the successful answering of customer’s inquiries.

Common themes throughout this blog series are self-service, automation, relieving the customer service rep of repetitive tasks and low effort engagements. The virtual assistant continues this theme. As technology advances, as machines get smarter, we will continue to see simple, manual tasks offloaded to computers and software applications.

We hope you found Part 2 useful. Contact Center environments are rapidly changing as are the technologies available to deploy. In closing, what new technologies do you think could help to transform your contact center environment and improve your customers satisfaction? How long do you think it will take to make these changes? We’d love to hear your thoughts and comments.  Thanks for reading.