Sparkcentral’s AI Virtual Agent Framework for Chatbots Blends the Best of Both Worlds
Agent productivity enhanced in the digital contact center through ability to seamlessly blend live and virtual contact center agents
SAN FRANCISCO, May 15, 2019 — Sparkcentral today announced the rollout of its Virtual Agent Framework, a solution complementing the Sparkcentral Messaging Customer Service Platform to create a complete digital customer care solution that lets companies bring together the optimum blend of live and virtual agents in the contact center. The Virtual Agent Framework not only allows the deployment of virtual agents (chatbots) on all chat, social, and messaging channels supported by Sparkcentral’s platform at a click of a button, but also gives live agents the flexibility to delegate simpler tasks to AI-powered virtual agents mid-dialogue and in a manner that ensures maximum productivity.
On top of that, virtual agents are being enabled to pass the ongoing conversation back to the same live agent that handled the customer before, ensuring the best possible customer experience. This frees live agents up for more complex tasks, while still making human-first, but speedy digital-powered service available 24/7 across all communication channels.
Sparkcentral’s VP of Product Management, Abhay Prasad, stated: “Rather than providing another proprietary chatbot tool in a saturated market, Sparkcentral provides an API that allows enterprises to retain their existing investments into AI and natural language processing on platforms such as IBM Watson, Microsoft LUIS, Google Dialogflow, or Nuance, versus having to rebuild the bot logic in a new tool. This allows companies to connect any virtual agent they create on any platform they prefer via any messaging channel they choose.”
“A growing number of brands realize that all customers benefit from conversations that move effortlessly from automated assistance to live agents and back again,” explains Dan Miller, Lead Analyst at Opus Research. “Sparkcentral’s framework encourages the sort of turn-taking that results in a predictive, personalized and ultimately pleasing customer experience. “
Sparkcentral’s Virtual Agent Framework challenges the accepted wisdom that live agents should be the “court of last resorts” in the contact center. Rather, the company believes in what it calls “AI Team Play,” a unique interplay between live and virtual agents that complements each party’s strengths and weaknesses. The three phases of this innovative system are inception, delegation and conclusion, with digital agents being able to be flexibly used as the first and last points of contact, but also as assistants in the middle of a dialogue to lead more standardized sub-dialogues for tasks such as collecting a new address, or payment details.
“We call this ‘Bring Your Own Bot (BYOB),'” elaborated Tobias Goebel, Sparkcentral’s VP of Product Marketing. “What we provide is a ‘seat at the table’ of the contact center workforce for as many digital employees as each company needs for their specific business requirements. And for customers that don’t have an existing relationship or preference regarding this technology, we’re partnering with several chatbot design agencies as well as Conversational AI technology providers that are certified against our platform.”
Gartner’s May 2018 “Magic Quadrant for the CRM Customer Engagement Center” predicts that “[b]y 2022 70% of customer interactions will involve an emerging technology such as machine learning applications, chatbots or mobile messaging, up from 15% in 2018…20% of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by AI, an increase of 400% from 2018. Though the proportion of phone-based communication will drop to just over 10% of overall customer service interactions by 2022, a human agent will still be involved in more than 40% of all interactions.” Sparkcentral believes these numbers support the direction it is taking will ensure the best of both worlds for AI and human contributions to the workforce.