Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is a sub-field of Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLU focuses on enabling machines to understand human language as it is spoken or written. It involves the ability of machines to analyze and interpret the meaning behind the words spoken by humans and respond accordingly.
Natural Language Understanding uses artificial intelligence to complete the solution of Verbio’s Call Automation when combined with Speech Recognition and Text-to-Speech (TTS) technologies.
In this blog post, we will look to frame natural language understanding’s role within the overall structure of voice AI technology when considering the call & contact center industry. Plus, we will look ahead to the future of advanced cognitive contact centers using these voice AI solutions.
What is Natural Language Understanding (NLU)? How does it work with Speech Recognition?
Natural language understanding (NLU) and speech recognition are two separate but related processes that work together to enable machines to understand spoken language.
Speech recognition involves converting spoken language into text. This is typically done using automatic speech recognition (ASR) software, which uses a combination of statistical models and machine learning algorithms to analyze and interpret audio input. ASR software breaks down the audio input into individual sound units (phonemes), and uses statistical language models to determine the most likely words and phrases that correspond to those phonemes.
Once the spoken language has been transcribed into text, natural language understanding (NLU) is used to analyze and interpret the meaning of the text. NLU involves a variety of techniques, including syntax analysis, semantic analysis, and machine learning. NLU algorithms use these techniques to identify the key concepts, entities, and relationships within the text, and to generate an understanding of the speaker’s intended meaning.
The output of NLU can then be used by a machine to perform various tasks, such as answering questions, carrying out commands, or providing recommendations. For example, a speech recognition system inside an Alexa or Siri machine might transcribe a spoken command like “play some jazz music,” and an NLU system would interpret that command as a request to start playing jazz music.
Natural Language Understanding is a backbone technology for advanced call centers, but for it to work well it must have highly accurate Speech Recognition. It provides the basis for answer and responses in human-to-machine communication. Though, before we discuss the relationship between technology and system, we must define “cognitive contact center”.
What is a Cognitive Contact Center?
A cognitive contact center, also known as an intelligent contact center or cognitive customer service, is a customer service center that uses artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to enhance the customer experience.
These systems integrate different channels, such as voice, to provide a seamless customer experience. They leverage natural language processing (NLP) to understand and interpret customer queries, and then use ML algorithms to provide relevant responses to customers in real-time.
At Verbio, we believe that the best and most relatable method of communication is through voice interaction. That is why we have been striving for over twenty years to build and enhance our product offering for the call and contact center globally.
Why Cognitive Contact Centers rely on NLU
In the context of call center Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems, NLU plays an important role in improving customer experience (CX) metrics by making the system more intuitive and user-friendly.
Instead of forcing callers to navigate through a rigid menu of options, NLU-enabled IVRs can understand spoken language and respond to natural language requests. Put simply, the user journey is shortened.
For example, if a phone call is routed to a system of optional choice questions, it may be several minutes before a caller is able to speak to a human agent. At a cognitive contact center, a call is answered within seconds by a machine voice assistant.
Open Questions vs Closed Questions in IVR
Not only is the caller answered in seconds, but the quality of their call is also improved by Natural Language Understanding technology. Before, a caller could only answer a series of options in a closed question IVR system. Now, at cognitive contact centres, callers can be greeted with the open question, “How may I help you?”.
From here, whatever answer the caller gives can be transcribed, recognized, and responded to using artificial intelligence.
This means that callers can speak to the system in the same way they would speak to a human operator, using everyday language and expressions, and the system can still understand and respond accordingly.
What makes Verbio different? Accuracy and Expertise
Verbio’s Call Automation solution for call & contact centers goes one step further. We work with our partners to build libraries of industry-specific words and phrases so that intent is fully understood. We pair our NLU technology with Speech Recognition and TTS to create an all-in-one solution to improve the overall performance of an IVR.
What’s more, Verbio’s accuracy levels for recognizing spoken word are outstanding. We average at above 90% for English, Spanish, and Brazilian Portuguese. Plus, we aim to offer a host of new languages in 2023.
What’s more, Verbio’s voice AI solutions are able to handle regional accents within a language set in the IVR. This can help reduce the frustration that callers may feel when they are unable to communicate effectively with the IVR and can lead to shorter call times and increased customer satisfaction.
NLU technology produced in-house
In summary, NLU is important for call center technology because it enables the IVR system to understand and respond to natural language requests, making it more intuitive and user-friendly for callers. This can improve the customer experience, reduce call times, and increase customer satisfaction.
Verbio has known this for some time and has fine tuned its product offering. We have tailored an amazing call center software piece which not only improves the user journey through the IVR, but improves customer service and reduces waiting time.
However, it is not Verbio’s goal to replace human agents with voice assistants. We think that both systems can work together to provide the ultimate user experience. By allowing a voice assistant machine to deal with repetitive tasks, call centers can empower their human agents to deal with more technical calls. To read more on this subject, read our blog post A Day in the Life of… A Call Center Agent.
If you would like a demonstration of our Call Automation or Call Transcription solutions, or want to discuss our voice AI technologies in more detail, please do not hesitate to contact us using the form below.