My thoughts on Google Cloud Contact Center AI

TLDR; it's amazing but has a key issue for users not using commercial platforms.

I've been lucky enough to have done some consulting work recently with one of the largest VoIP providers on the planet; where I got to play with the different aspects of CCAI and I can truly say it's going to be a phenomenal tool in your toolbox. So what is it? Well let me tell you what it isn't - it isn't a contact center in the cloud run by Google because thats the first thing everyone asks; it's the intelligence you want in your contact center, on every single phone call, that pair of ears listening in and ultimately being able to report on what your customers want and feel.

From my point of view it's made up of two key parts - a Virtual Agent and an Assisted Agent. The Virtual Agent, you might have guessed, is a virtual agent which is powered by a knowledge-base inside of Dialogflow. If you don't know much about Dialogflow, simply put, Dialogflow is Google's conversation API; it can be used for voice as well as text and powers Actions on Google Assistant amongst other things.

Now, "Virtual Agent" has essentially been available with Dialogflow for a while - that's essentially what Dialogflow was - you sent it audio or text and it would come back to you with some audio/text and you'd send it back to your user, rinse repeat and you have a Virtual Agent. Where Virtual Agent in CCAI is different is the ability to group the whole interaction under one "Conversation" and be able to draw context from within that conversation. However here's the really powerful part - you can now decide within your "Intents" in Dialogflow when to pass off to a human agent; essentially bringing that human agent in to an already existing conversation; you do this by having an intent that understands "I want to talk to a human" and for that action to pass you onto a human agent. Historically this is where Dialogflow's interaction with the end user might have stopped but now it remains in the conversation as an "Assisted Agent" continuing to listen in on the conversation between the agent and the customer.

This new Assisted Agent just went GA and , working in the VoIP industry, it's the thing I'm most excited about coming from Google Cloud in the past few weeks. Having an Artificial Intelligence listening in on a call, transcribing it, keeping a record of the component parts of it, suggesting prompts to the agent in order to help the customer and then being able to query that retrospectively to improve things - that's just magical and for you, the end user, and your agents; the plus is that it's fairly easy to implement too, if you fill the right check boxes that is.

CCAI explanation from Google Cloud

So what's the key issue?

The CCAI service as a a whole is limited to Google's "Contact Center Partners" which include Genesys, Avaya, Vonage, Cisco, Salesforce and Twilio amongst others. This means the complexity of handling media is left to the "Contact Center Partner" and you just deal with the logistics around the knowledge-base that informs decision making - hence making it fairly easy to get started. However, this is where I'd love to see change; I know how many Contact Centers around the world are driven in-house by Open Source software such as Asterisk and FreeSWITCH with telephone "lines" provided by a wholesale provider who doesn't care what you're doing with that call. As a proponent of being able to choose the best software/hardware for a solution without needlessly having to pay a license fee on Contact Center solutions or higher per minute fees from say Twilio or Vonage, I'd love for those businesses that decide they can do better for their business without a Contact Center Partner, to be able to deal with Google Cloud directly on this.

From purely an operational perspective within your Contact Center, Google Cloud Contact Center AI's console will give you team leads, your QAs and business insight team members visibility into every call, with text analysis of every call you'll be able to automatically score each call from a QA perspective to make sure all those "key points" were indeed raised with the customer. Think of the hours you can save and repurpose elsewhere.

Right now due to how you need to operate with one of Google Cloud's Contact Center Partner's it's up to each provider to give you your data; how they do that is up to them and so theres no code to share here unfortunately. Maybe sometime in the future :)

Now, I haven't gone into huge detail about the other aspects of CCAI; if you're interested in how to get the most from CCAI have a read of the information on Google's Contact Center AI website and if that doesn't answer your questions then feel free to email me at [email protected] and I'll try to guide you down the right path. Nimble Ape offers consulting around RTC solutions and has first hand experience building voice bots with Dialogflow.