Artificial Intelligence – or AI – is set to bring major changes to the way in which we communicate in the next few years. One of the areas in which it will have a significant impact is the call center, where chatbots could take on many of the roles that human beings perform now.

One Antipodean firm, AustralianSuper, is already embracing the future with its chatbot called Ash. Customers who go to AustralianSuper’s website can expect Ash to assist consumers with some of their most frequently asked queries. The debut of Ash follows on from a soft launch of its live messaging service at the end of last year, and more than 50,000 messages have already been sent. Customers gave these messages a satisfaction rating of more than 90 percent.

Versatile technology

AustralianSuper is a pension and superannuation fund that has a membership of more than two million. The company formed a partnership with LivePerson, which delivers solutions for messaging in business and uses AI. Ash is powered by the LivePerson LiveEngage platform and technology has been integrated with the AustralianSuper website. Ash is also expected to be integrated with messaging in its app some time in the next 12 months.

Ash draws on data to generate intelligence that can be used for dealing with consumer queries related to superannuation and a variety of other matters. Shawn Blackmore, a senior executive at AustralianSuper said that the company had deployed the messaging service in order to deliver more effective and efficient services to its client base.

It was hoped that the messaging service would also facilitate building customer relationships through the use of an interface that was convenient and accessible. Mr Blackmore added that the live messaging service effectively replicated the way in which its members exchanged information with each other, so it seemed logical to incorporate it into the AustralianSuper communications platform.

Benefits of wholesale VoIP termination

AustralianSuper still uses people in its call center for more complex questions, and even has a number of financial planners available to talk through queries relating to specific personal finance issues. Calls can come in or be returned to a number of destinations, with wholesale VoIP termination ensuring a cost-effective way of dealing with large volumes of calls.

Around 80 percent of routine questions can now be handled by Ash, which can forward tricky queries on to the call center. Staff in the call center can then focus on adding value to customer interactions, rather than spending their time fielding routine questions. At least half of the call center staff have training that enables them to give general financial advice, and there are around 15 staff who are qualified in financial planning.

Exciting developments are in the works for Ash, which will receive a “voice” solution similar to that used by Alexa from Amazon or Siri from Apple. At present, with the updated app, AustralianSuper members already have instant and direct access to the company and a range of resources, whenever they need them.