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Next-level customer service: A new frontier with Voice AI

Riley Knavish, Log in to subscribe to the Blog

Agents across industries and around the world are in constant motion as they balance customer requests and manage processes, all while striving to deliver the best business solutions possible. This often results in a lot of stress for both agents and customers. As the role of the contact center continues to shift in a rapidly changing environment, it’s critical to modernize internal processes to support agents and provide customer service that is convenient, quick, and accessible. Voice AI technology simplifies service processes and optimizes productivity for agents across an organization.

Earlier this year, Sabrina Atienza made waves at PegaWorld iNspire 2021 with a keynote session where she demonstrated how Pega’s sophisticated voice AI can revolutionize customer service. Watch Sabrina’s demo to learn more about voice AI technology:

We’ve checked in with Sabrina to learn more about her journey with Pega and to talk more about how voice AI technology is transforming the agent experience and the future of customer service.

Tell us about your career journey: What did you do prior to working at Pega? Why did you choose to join us?

I graduated from UC Berkley after studying computer science and machine learning. A lot of the professors I interacted with were starting their own companies, and entrepreneurship seemed exciting to me. I remember talking with my physics professor once, and he laughed at me and said, “It’s funny that you think you’re going to work for somebody.” At the time, I had no idea what he meant, but now, I realize that he probably meant that I was going to start my own company.

So, I raised $2 million in venture capital, built up a team of machine learning and software engineers, and founded Qurious right out of college. Since then, I’ve been featured in publications like Forbes 30 Under 30 and The Wall Street Journal. I stayed CEO of the company up until coming to Pega. Part of why we were so excited to join Pega was its market-leading customer service technology, which enables us to combine our efforts to build a solution that is truly transforming both agent and customer experiences.

I joined Pega in January 2021 after the Qurious acquisition and currently serve as Director of Product Management. Another key reason I chose Pega was meeting Alan Trefler (Pega Founder and CEO). He has a deeply technical background and bootstrapped the company with his own hands, building it up for years to become a major player in the contact center. He still runs the company. I really admire that.

How has the landscape of the contact center shifted? What kind of new opportunities and challenges are agents tackling in 2021?

There are three major trends that we’ve been seeing:

First is one we’ve probably all dealt with, which is the shift to remote work. This has some major implications in the call center; if an agent gets stuck during a call, they can’t just tap on the shoulder of the person next to them and ask for help.

Second is the shift to knowledge work. Across the board, products and organizations are becoming more complex. That, coupled with the fact that simple requests like changing a phone number or updating an address can be done by the customer online, means that agents are dealing with more complex asks.

The third and final trend we’re seeing is the idea of the agent as a brand ambassador. When agents are representing the brand, they’re responsible for having high-quality touchpoints with customers on every interaction. The combination of these three trends is what’s driving the needs for the next generation of AI solutions to enable agents to better serve rapidly changing customer needs and boost overall productivity.

How is voice AI amplifying the agent experience?

Think of voice AI as a co-pilot for each agent in the contact center. It listens in on an interaction between the agent and a customer, and using that context, provides real-time intelligent guidance that allows us to streamline work, scale coaching and training, and improve compliance.

Voice AI technology empowers agents and organizations to:

  • Reduce average handling times by providing valuable contextual knowledge.
  • Focus on the customer experience instead of wasting time on manual, tedious, and redundant tasks.
  • Accelerate agent onboarding rates with reduced training times.
  • Increase first contact resolution and customer satisfaction (CSAT) metrics.

Looking forward 5 years, what is the future of AI in the contact center? What makes Pega stand out?

Voice AI technology is still in its early days, but it’s clear that it will continue to play a major role in the future. Since this tech is still so new, Pega Voice AI is doing the work now to ensure that we are providing agents with the tools that they need to be successful in today and tomorrow’s contact centers. We’ve integrated this technology into Pega Customer Service™ to give our clients a unified, integrated solution. It’s also totally customizable for different industries, companies, use cases, and specific terminology.

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Topic: Customer Service

About the Author

Riley Knavish is a writer who loves a good story, particularly ones about ethical tech, data, and human interest..