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Report: Half of APAC Contact Centres Aim to Adopt Voice AI in 2023
November 16, 2022 News


Latest research by leading voice Artificial Intelligence (AI) start-up AI Rudder has revealed that half (47%) of contact centres in Asia-Pacific are now looking at adopting voice AI solutions in the next 12 months as a business strategy to improve customer and employee satisfaction.

The report, titled “The Future of Customer Experience with Voice AI” was based on a survey comprising more than 500 customer experience (CX) leaders in Asia, on the state of the contact centre industry. Having prioritised customer acquisition and onboarding over the past three years, digital-first businesses now find themselves at the tipping point of digital transformation and are thus increasingly realising the importance of CX in driving long-term engagement, winning, and growing their revenue. According to the report, nearly half (46%) have prioritised improving CX in the next 24 months.

Businesses Still Falling Short on Omnichannel Implementation

As customer journeys become more complex, personalisation has now become imperative. Users are choosing to interact with brands on their preferred channels, switching between these frequently and expecting uninterrupted access. This means that organisations now have to track customer journeys across all channels to better serve the customer—whether for sales, assistance or resolution of issues.

“When brands view their channels in silos, it is nearly impossible to personalise the experience for the customer,” says Kun Wu, Co-Founder of and Managing Director at AI Rudder. “The challenge now for organisations is to achieve personalisation at scale, without compromising the quality of customer experience. For this reason, voice AI is becoming a critical avenue for businesses to manage high volumes of customer requests, while ensuring their services are seamless and intuitive,” says Wu.

The Inextricable Link between CX and EX

Looking into 2024, organisations are also looking to bridge the gap between CX and employee experience (EX). Customer interactions still require a human touch; quality CX is dependent on motivated and empowered employees. Increased customer demand means that contact centre teams are more stretched than ever, and organisations are under pressure to optimise service standards while managing costs and workload. Against this backdrop, solutions like voice AI are gaining traction as part of efforts to support staffing requirements, without compromising on service quality.

Investing in AI to Improve CX and EX

Given that calls have to be answered within a specific timeframe, organisations are looking at diverting queries to non-voice channels that do not require support from a human agent. More than half (59%) are now considering the improvement of customer self-service as a key component of their CX strategy.

To address these issues, organisations are increasingly prioritising AI and Machine Learning (ML) and expect these investments to reduce the load on agents, improve employee retention (41%), and drive customer satisfaction (40%). More than three-fourths (77%) have either started or recalibrated their digital transformation priorities in the last 2 years, and over half (53%) are deploying a combination of AI and self-service applications, including voice AI assistants.

Understanding Nuance Is Key to Voice AI Success

To reach the successful adoption of voice AI, understanding the nuances of voice interaction by collecting the right data pool to train AI models will be critical.

A survey conducted by AI Rudder at the Singapore FinTech Festival earlier this month found that 3 out of 4 (75%) Singaporeans have experienced difficulties in understanding or being understood by a voice assistant. A large majority (89%) said they would be more comfortable using voice assistants if they could understand and respond to Singlish, and 90% of respondents would be interested to incorporate these into their daily lives if they were able to converse in the local accent.

As such, AI Rudder has launched its new Singlish bot, which was enhanced with 3,000 hours of speech data from the National Speech Corpus (NSC) complete with humanised features to process semantics, linguistic utterances and speech disfluencies. The Singlish bot can differentiate vocal interruptions from background noises, as well as recognising breaks, irregularities, vocalised pauses and filler words that occur within the flow of natural speech.

“Our voice assistant can carry out sophisticated conversations and can discern between meaningful interruptions from background interferences in order to infer the true intention of the user,” said Zader Zhang, Director of AI at AI Rudder.  “Likewise, it is able to intuitively converse using speech disfluencies and localised filler words such as “hmm”s “uh”s, and “lah”s to sound more familiar and natural. This makes customers feel more at ease when conversing with voice AI.”

Zhang also said the Singlish bot is expected to improve over time with each use. Upon its launch, AI Rudder expects the bot to be initially adopted by financial services, FinTech and e-commerce institutions that have expressed the strongest interest in incorporating the Singlish bot into their customer experience strategy. Currently, the platform supports more than 20 languages, dialects and accents including English, Chinese, Hindi, Tamil, Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa, Tagalog and Taglish.