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Saturday, September 25, 2021

Google launches AI-based Agent Assist for Chat in public preview

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Customer service chat agents are getting a helping hand from Google LLC with Agent Assist for Chat, a new tool that provides them with continuous support while dealing with customers.

Announced today, the new service is part of Google’s Contact Center AI offering, which is used by companies to automate their customer service operations.

Agent Assist Product Manager Matt Jones and Conversational AI product marketing chief Surbhi Agarwal explained in a blog post that Agent Assist for Chat works by analyzing chat messages to identify the customer’s intent. It then provides recommendations in real time, such as articles and FAQs that might be helpful. It can also suggest possible responses to customer messages, helping to save agent’s time.

Live chat has emerged as a popular tool for providing customer support services. Google said that although live calls are still more popular, accounting for 18% of customer interactions according to data from International Data Corp., live chat is growing fast and last year made up 8% of all interactions.

Agent Assist for Chat is designed to work with Google’s DialogFlow CX artificial intelligence-based virtual agents, which are used to respond to routine inquiries. If the customer’s inquiry is more complex and a personalized approach is needed, the virtual agent passes the conversation on to a human operator. As that happens, Agent Assist for Chat kicks in to help the human agent managed the conversation more efficiently.

“Customers using Agent Assist for Chat have been able to manage up to 28% more conversations concurrently, while also driving up customer satisfaction,” Jones and Agarwal said. “Additionally, we’ve seen them respond up to 15% faster to chats, reducing chat abandonment rates and solving more customer problems.”

Google’s customers concur. Chris Smith, vice president of digital service at the Australian telecommunications provider Singtel Optus Pty Ltd., said his company uses Dialogflow CX to handle much of its customer’s messaging queries. He explained that Agent Assist has helped minimize many of the repetitive tasks its human agents perform, improving their efficiency and the quality of service they provide.

Constellation Research Inc. analyst Nicole France told SiliconANGLE that the targeted use of AI to address specific parts of the customer service job is rapidly becoming standard, because once contact center agents start using them, they become indispensable.

“Contextual access to knowledge and information sources across the business dramatically improves the time it takes for agents to get to the right answer, even in complex and less frequent customer issues,” France said. “By following individual customer calls and chats, these tools reduce the effort required for human agents to quickly and easily respond to customers. The tools are just there, in the right place at the right time. As a result, agents can concentrate on the person they’re dealing with and engaging with them effectively rather than searching for information or wording.”

France’s colleague at Constellation Research, Holger Mueller, said a big part of the value of AI automation is in helping professionals in well-defined and repetitive tasks.

“Google is manifesting its multiple-year lead on the algorithm and on the silicon side, and the new Agent Assist capabilities show an impressive return on investment for the adoption of Google’s AI capabilities,” Mueller said. “This is a big reason and benefit that explains why enterprises are moving their contact centers to the public cloud.”

Google has also partnered with some third-party conversational messaging platforms. It said Agent Assist for Chat is available as a set of public application programming interfaces as well, so it can be directly integrated with agent desktop services. Launch partners include LivePerson Inc. and 247.ai Inc.

“Integrating our Conversational Cloud directly with Agent Assist means agents can leverage cutting-edge productivity AI to build even further on the massive ROI of conversational commerce, from reduced agent effort and time-to-respond to increased customer satisfaction and revenue,” said LivePerson Chief Technology Officer Alex Spinelli.

Image: Google

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