Technology giant IBM has announced new automation-focused capabilities for Watson Assistant, the intelligent virtual agent that can help businesses leverage AI and NLP (natural language processing) to address customer issues on first contact.
The Armonk, New York headquartered company said on Friday that Watson Assistant can now be enhanced with voice capabilities, thanks to its partnership with leading Communications Platform-as-a-Service provider IntelePeer. IBM said users with Plus and Enterprise plans can opt for IntelePeer through an add-on and set up a new phone number with a voice agent.
The integration could even work for organizations with existing contact center phone system.
Launched in 2018, Watson Assistant has been enabling businesses across sectors to automate and enhance their customer service experience. The question-and-answer system conducts automated chatbot-style conversations with users across apps and messaging platforms, and redirects queries to live agents if additional support is needed.
Now, IBM is making improvements to the customer support assistant to make handling of customer queries as automated as possible for businesses.
“We’re continuously delivering new innovations in natural language processing, automation and advancing responsible AI, and building a strong, open ecosystem with partners like IntelePeer to help businesses transform customer care with Watson Assistant,” Daniel Hernandez, General Manager of Data and AI at IBM, said in a statement.
Along with the ability to set up voice agents, IBM has made Watson Assistant’s search skill, announced in beta last December, generally available and introduced a new agent app.
The search skill comes with a short-answer retrieval feature which enables the virtual agent to return a short answer — in a few words — from longer sentences or passages and provide the context on where the answer came from. It also includes FAQ extraction, which automatically updates the virtual agent with broader sources of information.
Meanwhile, the agent app ensures seamless hand-off from a virtual agent to an actual customer service representative. It essentially displays the transcript of the conversation between the virtual agent and customer so that the live representative could get the context of the query and continue the conversation without wasting any time.
Virtual assistants continue to gain popularity due to ongoing improvements in natural language processing (NLP) and automation. According to IBM’s 2021 Global AI Adoption Index, 52% of global IT professionals say that their company is using or considering NLP solutions to improve customer experiences.