How Conversational AI Solves Call Center Language Barriers

Conversational AI

Do you long to outsource your call center but fear frustrating your customers with language barriers? 

When faced with a problem, we tend to think about solutions in terms of this or that. I have to either use a self-managed or domestic call center or accept that my customers may struggle to communicate with my offshore outsourced partner. However, technology has proven it can provide new options that have never previously existed. 

AI is revolutionizing every industry, including customer experience (CX). Today’s contact centers integrate the functions of traditional call centers with the latest advancements in CX, and the latest innovation is called conversational artificial intelligence (AI). 

Customer Communication + Artificial Intelligence

Conversational AI refers to technologies that “use large volumes of data, machine learning, and natural language processing to help imitate human interactions, recognizing speech and text inputs and translating their meanings across various languages.” For example, most customers are now familiar with the common applications of online chatbots and voice assistants. These applications are designed to ensure conversational experiences while removing human dialogue altogether for efficiency. They are best suited for streamlining support for routine queries. 

For more complex issues, customers still prefer — and need — human support. One of the benefits of outsourcing a contact center is partnering with a company that specializes in your product or industry, where the call agents can “talk the talk.” However, when their country of origin differs from the customers on the other end of the line, language barriers can hinder effective communication, damaging the customer journey and loyalty. 

According to a PwC report, “Nearly 80% of American consumers point to speed, convenience, knowledgeable help, and friendly service as the most important elements of a positive customer experience.” 

Groundbreaking — Or “Voicechanging” — Technology

Developers have taken conversational AI further, specifically to serve call centers. Foreign accents are a constant obstacle for call center workers. In fact, an entire industry of “accent neutralization” is training them to drop the nuances and pronunciation of their native languages to sound more like the Western customers they’re supporting. 

Now, an alternative (more dignifying) solution is available. Real-time voice-altering technology allows speakers to select from a multitude of accents and then “flip a switch” to apply the chosen accent to their voice as they speak. This innovation benefits all parties involved:

  • Workers use their natural voice and reduce the potential for cultural biases.
  • Customers better understand foreign call agents and get an improved communication experience.
  • Companies get to serve their customers with their desired efficiency and quality.

Some refer to this technology as “accent correction,” but that phrasing implies something is incorrect, which isn’t the case. Instead, we’ll use “accent modification” as the more accurate term. 

One of the leading providers of this form of conversational AI is Sanas, founded by three Stanford students, aimed at “helping the world understand and be understood.” Their founding story is enlightening for business owners considering an outsourced contact center. The company tells the story of an engineering student who takes a job at a call center in his native country while waiting to graduate. As he answered customer calls, he experienced discrimination for his accent, which impaired his satisfaction ratings and, consequently, his morale and work performance. 

The technology only operates on outgoing audio, never manipulating the incoming voice, and only by the speaker’s choice. 

Advising on the Latest CX Trends

Exceptional customer experiences drive business results. Seeing how the tech industry continues to focus on and enhance CX is impressive and encouraging. We at AdviseCX specialize in knowing the options deeply, including conversational AI, so that we can advise companies on the best solutions for their needs.