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Google launches Agent Assist for Chat in preview

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Google today launched Agent Assist for Chat in public preview, an extension of its Contact Center AI platform that provides call center agents with support via text, in addition to calls. First announced in September, Agent Assist attempts to identify customers’ intents and provide agents with real-time recommendations such as articles and FAQs as well as responses to messages.

Online chat is becoming one of the most popular ways to reach out to businesses for customer support. In 2020, although phone and voice was responsible for the bulk of interactions, email makes up for around 13% of customer interactions, IDC reports. Live chat without automation is responsible for around 8% of interactions. And Salesforce says roughly 69% of consumers choose chatbots for quick communication with brands.

Agent Assist provides two components to help agents manage conversations: Smart Reply and Knowledge Assist.

Smart Reply delivers response suggestions taken from top-performing agents, sometimes modified to ensure that they reflect brand tone and voice. Agent Assist also learns when and what recommendations to make by building a custom model that’s trained on a company’s data.

As for Knowledge Assist, it leverages a company’s knowledge base to provide articles and FAQ suggestions to agents as the conversation progresses. When using Knowledge Assist, agents don’t need to make the customer wait while they navigate apps and data to find the resolution to an issue — the answer is delivered to them.

AI making a difference

According to Google, customers using Agent Assist for Chat have been able to manage up to 28% more conversations concurrently while driving up customer satisfaction by 10%. They also respond up to 15% faster to chats on average, reducing chat abandonment rates.

One customer, Optus, expects Agent Assist to help minimize repetitive tasks by providing response and typeahead suggestions. Another, LoveHolidays, is using Agent Assist to support their agents and customers in the travel industry.

With customer representatives increasingly required to work from home in Manila, the U.S., and elsewhere, companies are turning to AI to bridge resulting gaps in service. The solutions aren’t perfect — humans are needed even when chatbots are deployed — but COVID-19 has accelerated the need for AI-powered contact center messaging.

There’s indeed no shortage of competition in the AI-driven call analytics space. Gong offers an intelligence platform for enterprise sales teams and recently nabbed $200 million in funding at a $2.2 billion valuation. Observe.ai snagged $26 million in December for AI that monitors and coaches call center agents. AI call center startups Cogito and CallMiner have also staked claims alongside more established players like Amazon and Microsoft.

For its part, Google says that more than a thousand customers have deployed Contact Center AI to date.

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