New artificially intelligent call centre technology able to recognise if a caller is distressed or angry may put an end to the age-old hang-up of being passed from department to department when phoning a company.
The cloud-based system, Amazon Connect, which can understand the words callers say and is being offered to the New Zealand market by Kiwi company Digital Island, can help navigate callers to the best operator – and send those who are upset to a more experienced or senior member of staff.
Digital Island CEO Leon Sheehan says the Amazon Connect customer sentiment analysis picks up real time behaviours and tracks a caller's temper: "It might mean a manager gets involved with a caller sooner and that provides a much better experience for the end user."
Sheehan says the new technology is expected to save companies up to 40 per cent on their normal running costs, when compared to older legacy systems because clients only pay for what they need when they use it.
"Annual software licences and paying for technology you don't always want or need is a thing of the past," he says.
The backbone of the firm's offering is Amazon Web Service's (AWS) Amazon Connect, a subsidiary of online retail giant Amazon. Sheehan says the consumption-based model provides a seamless experience for users and customers across voice and text-chat with contact centre operators able to use the system with almost any PC. Call recording is also a feature.
"We have a unique integrated dashboard proposition that differentiates from others in the market," says Sheehan. "We expect client call volumes to reduce by 24 per cent on average, in part due to its artificial intelligence (AI) call-handling capabilities.
"As a true consumption-based model – where you only pay for what you use – it can save businesses up to 40 per cent when compared to legacy phone systems."
Sheehan says AWS has been customised to make it easier to use: "We have a contact centre solution that combines Amazon Connect technology along with a simplified and integrated user dashboard to help our clients deliver an improved experience, and within that we have added a dedicated help desk for our clients."
Sheehan says his help desk team provide clients with peace of mind because they are not on their own when they use the firm's contact centre services.
"We give our clients stability, reliability and performance – it is all taken care of behind the scenes so they don't have to worry about it. We are there when they need help."
The Digital Island system also works across multiple channels such as chat, voice, SMS and social media, providing callers with a choice of how they engage.
"Contact centre agents will see Digital Island's simple, consolidated view to manage the request with the assistance of real time sentiment analysis reducing handling times and boosting productivity," says Sheehan.
The AI system can also help callers solve issues meaning contact centre staff are free to help with more complex issues where a more personal response is needed. "It makes it much faster for the end user to get what they want," says Sheehan.
However, Sheehan concedes the prospect of changing from one contact centre system to another can appear to be a daunting challenge for contact centre managers.
"That's really where our expertise comes to the fore," he says. "Because we have been delivering contact centres across New Zealand for ten years it means we can make that transition easy for clients because it is easy to implement.
"Our systems provide the client with a faster experience that saves them money. For example, clients don't need to upgrade their computer systems because it is all browser based – operators can work from anywhere that has an internet connection.
Sheehan says contact centres are at the heart of businesses' customer experience and if done poorly can significantly impact brand reputation.
"Likewise, if done well, it can prove a powerful differentiator from competitors," he says.
"Clients want innovative customer experiences to enhance their brand. We now have the technology that can enable this while reducing complexity, providing the adaptability for flexible working conditions, and creating cost efficiencies to help New Zealand businesses."
Digital Island started in 2004 and was acquired by Spark in 2017 as a specialist cloud communications and contact centre provider.