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We are out of humans
uXchange, Cologne, 28.09.2022
Designing Voice AI for the Contact Center
When Service
means talking to
a machine.
Welcome to IVR Hell
3
§Press “1”, if you are a glorious new customer.
§Press “2”, if you want to make changes.
§Press “3”, if you have a stupid technical question.
§Press “7”, if you are so obnoxious to file a complaint.
Let me talk to a human already!
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/tEMU4lzAL0w
In service-intensive industries the contact
center is a huge cost driver*.
§Humans are expensive
§Well-trained motivated humans are even
more expensive
Empathy for the devil management
4
*= means “Pain in the ass.”
While digital touch points scale well,
excellent human service is excruciatingly expensive.
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/JQ2D4I-2eyw (Hannah Nicollet)
Thus – a tough business:
5
Contact deflection
AHT* Reduction
Offshoring
Call Prioritization
Skill-based Routing
*= Average Handling Time
Automation
Outsourcing
To the rescue: Conversational AI!
6
Chat(bots):
§ Service conversations can be (partly) automated
§ Agents can handle several chats simultaneously
Voice Assistants:
§ “Understand” natural spoken language
§ Can be retro-fitted to existing call infrastructure
Boom!
The conversational
AI ecosystem.
7
Currently:
Chatbot startups
Voicebot startups
Myth #1: From chat to voice is easy
8
Voice is very different from chat:
§Real-time
§Ephemeral
§Unreliable recognition
§ A lot more conversational “repair” necessary
§Need to detect end of speech and signal the end of a prompt
§No interactive elements supporting the dialog
Chat offering a list of options
How to deal with ephemeral
Two Rules of Thumb
9
Rule of three1
Offer at most three different
options in a prompt.
Negotiate, if you have more than three.
What was the
first option?
Meet Otto,a one-option-guy.
(From the movie “A Fish Called Wanda”)
https://youtu.be/2j3adcbEwSM
1 = https://design.google/library/rule-of-three/
2 = Google “Jeff Blankenburg – Things Every Alexa Skill Should Do: Pass the One-Breath Test”
One-Breath-Test2
If you can say the response out loud
without taking a breath, it is
probably the right length.
Turn Taking: Still a bummer
10
§Human talk is highly cooperative.
§Turn taking is something, we are doing
very naturally and intuitively.
§Overlapping and latching are regular
elements of human dialog.
Time to respond. If you take
longer, something is “fishy”.
200 ms
(on average)
“Err”
“Mhh”
Still thinking.
Still listening.
Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Top-Hat-Rogers-Astaire.jpg
Myth #2:Voice AI is ‘natural’
11
„Conversational interfaces are game-like in that they are interactive but consist of a limited set of
rules and legal “moves” compared the real phenomenon they attempt to evoke. Just as users
must learn how video-game interfaces work, or any other user interfaces for that matter, they too
will need to learn how to “play” conversation games and how to navigate conversation spaces.
Conversational interfaces constitute a distinctive form
of interaction, which borrows interaction patterns
from natural human conversation but also exhibits its
own mechanics.“ Robert J. Moore (& Rafael Arar)
Conversational UX Design
(Great Book!)
Why any Human-Machine Interface works:
Humans adapt.
From personal experience.
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/2EJCSULRwC8 (Alex Knight)
Recipient Design
Users talk differently to machines
12
Users with no voice AI experience:
§Talk very slowly and deliberately
§Provide information in small chunks
Actually:
§Talk fluently with normal intonation
§A good bot will handle “over-answering”*
*= User provides more information than was actually asked for.
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/CEEhmAGpYzE (Colin Maynard)
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/pi9W2dWDdak (@zanardi)
Myth #3: Users pay attention
13
§“[Users] … don’t read [web] pages.” (Stephen Krug)
§“And they don’t listen, either!” (sad voicebot)
“Bonn”
“BN” “BN (Pause) CL 9678”
“BN (Pause) Bonn” “Bonn Cäsar Ludwig 9678”
“Now please tell me your license plate.
Start with the region or town.” (German license plates)
Exercise conversational repair
14
Every 84 seconds in conversation, someone will
say “Huh?,” “Who?,” or something similar to
check on what someone just said.
From: How we talk, N.J.Enfield
“BN” “Pardon, was that BN for Bonn?”
“No, it was BM for Rhein-Erft-Kreis.” Support One-Step-Corrections!
Do not
train people to
„talk right“!
(Unless you absolutely have to.)
“Now please tell me your license plate.
Start with the region or town.”
Expect to get beaten up (at first)
16
No amount of research will
keep you from initially failing
in spectacular ways.
You cannot probably
anticipate every sort of
behaviour for free speech UIs.
Depending on the complexity
and your experience with the
specific conversational setting,
you might take month.
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/a8QuaMV70FE (Quino Al)
When we talk,
many intricate subconscious mechanisms are at work.
Speech is instinctual and deeply social
17
Nothing gets people railed up more quickly
than a broken conversation:
§Repeatedly getting the same thing wrong
§Not responding to attempts to correct an
error
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/8dvyPDYa35Q (Usman Yousaf)
What’s actually going on, when we talk?
18
Watch this TED talk
by Elisabeth Stokoe:
https://youtu.be/MtOG5PK8xDA
19
Be wary of your technical limitations.
But do not make humans adapt more than you have to.
Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/mG-HdjYiPtE (Bewakoof.com)
Bonus:
Some books about Conversational Design
20
Questions?
21
@minutefforts
hans-joachim.belz@anstrengungslos.de
www.anstrengungslos.de

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Designing Voice AI for the Contact Center

  • 1. We are out of humans uXchange, Cologne, 28.09.2022 Designing Voice AI for the Contact Center
  • 3. Welcome to IVR Hell 3 §Press “1”, if you are a glorious new customer. §Press “2”, if you want to make changes. §Press “3”, if you have a stupid technical question. §Press “7”, if you are so obnoxious to file a complaint. Let me talk to a human already! Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/tEMU4lzAL0w
  • 4. In service-intensive industries the contact center is a huge cost driver*. §Humans are expensive §Well-trained motivated humans are even more expensive Empathy for the devil management 4 *= means “Pain in the ass.” While digital touch points scale well, excellent human service is excruciatingly expensive. Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/JQ2D4I-2eyw (Hannah Nicollet)
  • 5. Thus – a tough business: 5 Contact deflection AHT* Reduction Offshoring Call Prioritization Skill-based Routing *= Average Handling Time Automation Outsourcing
  • 6. To the rescue: Conversational AI! 6 Chat(bots): § Service conversations can be (partly) automated § Agents can handle several chats simultaneously Voice Assistants: § “Understand” natural spoken language § Can be retro-fitted to existing call infrastructure
  • 8. Myth #1: From chat to voice is easy 8 Voice is very different from chat: §Real-time §Ephemeral §Unreliable recognition § A lot more conversational “repair” necessary §Need to detect end of speech and signal the end of a prompt §No interactive elements supporting the dialog Chat offering a list of options
  • 9. How to deal with ephemeral Two Rules of Thumb 9 Rule of three1 Offer at most three different options in a prompt. Negotiate, if you have more than three. What was the first option? Meet Otto,a one-option-guy. (From the movie “A Fish Called Wanda”) https://youtu.be/2j3adcbEwSM 1 = https://design.google/library/rule-of-three/ 2 = Google “Jeff Blankenburg – Things Every Alexa Skill Should Do: Pass the One-Breath Test” One-Breath-Test2 If you can say the response out loud without taking a breath, it is probably the right length.
  • 10. Turn Taking: Still a bummer 10 §Human talk is highly cooperative. §Turn taking is something, we are doing very naturally and intuitively. §Overlapping and latching are regular elements of human dialog. Time to respond. If you take longer, something is “fishy”. 200 ms (on average) “Err” “Mhh” Still thinking. Still listening. Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Top-Hat-Rogers-Astaire.jpg
  • 11. Myth #2:Voice AI is ‘natural’ 11 „Conversational interfaces are game-like in that they are interactive but consist of a limited set of rules and legal “moves” compared the real phenomenon they attempt to evoke. Just as users must learn how video-game interfaces work, or any other user interfaces for that matter, they too will need to learn how to “play” conversation games and how to navigate conversation spaces. Conversational interfaces constitute a distinctive form of interaction, which borrows interaction patterns from natural human conversation but also exhibits its own mechanics.“ Robert J. Moore (& Rafael Arar) Conversational UX Design (Great Book!) Why any Human-Machine Interface works: Humans adapt. From personal experience. Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/2EJCSULRwC8 (Alex Knight)
  • 12. Recipient Design Users talk differently to machines 12 Users with no voice AI experience: §Talk very slowly and deliberately §Provide information in small chunks Actually: §Talk fluently with normal intonation §A good bot will handle “over-answering”* *= User provides more information than was actually asked for. Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/CEEhmAGpYzE (Colin Maynard) Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/pi9W2dWDdak (@zanardi)
  • 13. Myth #3: Users pay attention 13 §“[Users] … don’t read [web] pages.” (Stephen Krug) §“And they don’t listen, either!” (sad voicebot) “Bonn” “BN” “BN (Pause) CL 9678” “BN (Pause) Bonn” “Bonn Cäsar Ludwig 9678” “Now please tell me your license plate. Start with the region or town.” (German license plates)
  • 14. Exercise conversational repair 14 Every 84 seconds in conversation, someone will say “Huh?,” “Who?,” or something similar to check on what someone just said. From: How we talk, N.J.Enfield “BN” “Pardon, was that BN for Bonn?” “No, it was BM for Rhein-Erft-Kreis.” Support One-Step-Corrections!
  • 15. Do not train people to „talk right“! (Unless you absolutely have to.) “Now please tell me your license plate. Start with the region or town.”
  • 16. Expect to get beaten up (at first) 16 No amount of research will keep you from initially failing in spectacular ways. You cannot probably anticipate every sort of behaviour for free speech UIs. Depending on the complexity and your experience with the specific conversational setting, you might take month. Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/a8QuaMV70FE (Quino Al)
  • 17. When we talk, many intricate subconscious mechanisms are at work. Speech is instinctual and deeply social 17 Nothing gets people railed up more quickly than a broken conversation: §Repeatedly getting the same thing wrong §Not responding to attempts to correct an error Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/8dvyPDYa35Q (Usman Yousaf)
  • 18. What’s actually going on, when we talk? 18 Watch this TED talk by Elisabeth Stokoe: https://youtu.be/MtOG5PK8xDA
  • 19. 19 Be wary of your technical limitations. But do not make humans adapt more than you have to. Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/mG-HdjYiPtE (Bewakoof.com)
  • 20. Bonus: Some books about Conversational Design 20