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8x8 releases conversational AI tools for the contact center

The cloud-based UC vendor releases voice technology to enable CX workers to connect self-service and agent-assisted workflows and receive conversation context from voicebots.

Cloud-based unified communications vendor 8x8 released voice conversational AI for its Intelligent Customer Assistant to help contact center agents give customers a more cohesive service experience across various touchpoints.

The new capabilities, made available in open beta on Aug. 30, aim to unify information from customers' inquiries to create a more complete view of customers' calls and let contact center agents serve them in a way that best meets their needs.

A new capability called Complete Customer Context lets voicebots interacting with customers collect customers' query information and deliver it to agents. The bots then act as a go-between, giving agents immediate briefings on customers so that agents can provide more personalized, relevant information faster.

This feature creates a more connected self-service experience for both the customer and the agent, according to Constellation Research analyst Liz Miller.

What 8x8 has done with this integration is aid both the customer's and the agent's experience by passing through the details of self-service with the voicebot for deeper context for the agent.
Liz MillerAnalyst, Constellation Research

"As they switch to a live agent -- be it by chat or by voice -- their questions, engagements and history with the bot stays with the bot," Miller said. "What 8x8 has done with this integration is aid both the customer's and the agent's experience by passing through the details of self-service with the voicebot for deeper context for the agent."

The new capabilities mirror similar product advancements recently from some of 8x8's contact center competitors, which include Genesys, RingCentral, Cisco and Avaya.

Tools to unify data, increase personalization

The vendor also released other capabilities for Intelligent Customer Assistant. One feature, Streamline Workflows, reduces the need for manual customer data collection by unifying customer data from multiple touchpoints including self-service tools and live agent assistance.

Another feature, Build and Deploy Rapidly, lets users build a bot and deploy it across channels including SMS, voice, WhatsApp and web chat. Rich Conversation Insights includes analytics tools that report insights for better customer journey observability.

Finally, Turnkey Integration Options includes marketplace and turnkey integrations with CRMs to enable customization for a more personalized customer experience within a voicebot interaction.

Focusing on the customer

But problems can arise when vendors prioritize the functions of the AI-supported technology over the customers' needs, Miller said. For example, many customers might want to speak with an agent, while the technology might be oriented to prevent that.

"If the goal with conversational AI is to 'talk a customer out of connecting,' more attention will be paid to moving that customer along as opposed to helping that customer reach their desired outcome," Miller said.

Another possible pitfall to watch out for is deploying each AI-supported tool in an isolated way that doesn't connect with the overall experience, she said.

"Buyers must look for solutions that seamlessly hand off and integrate into where and how the contact center holistically engages with a customer and how the contact center feeds critical signal -- even across self-service experience -- back to the larger CX engine of sales, service and marketing," Miller said.

Mary Reines is a news writer covering customer experience and unified communications for TechTarget Editorial. Before TechTarget, Reines was arts editor at the Marblehead Reporter.

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