Inference Solutions Debuts New WhatsApp Integration for Virtual Agents and Natural Language Call Steering for Pizza Hut Australia

AI-powered virtual agent developer Inference Solutions is expanding its customer care platform to WhatsApp. Customers will be able to build a responsive conversational interface over the messaging app. The company announced the news this morning at VentureBeat Transform 2019 while demonstrating the new Studio 6.2 release.

Virtual Agency

Inference Solutions’ intelligent virtual agents interact with customers and perform many of the same tasks as human agents. They answer questions, arrange appointments, and perform transactions, among other roles. Now, the virtual agents will be able to respond via WhatsApp with the same natural language processing that Inference offers on other platforms. 

“The virtual agents very similar to human agents, but cost about a tenth of a human agent,” said Richard Dumas, Inference’s vice president of marketing in an interview with Voicebot. “They can have open-ended conversations and learn different ways people [talk about] doing tasks like booking appointments.”

A recent Gartner report put the value of virtual agents in 2017 at $300 billion, and that it will grow to $1.2 trillion by 2030. 

“There’s an enormous market for self-service AI,” Dumas said. “There’s so much demand coming because the volume of customer requests coming into businesses is increasing at an exponential rate. The number of live agents is increasing but not at the same rate.”

New Versions

The new version of Inference Studio comes just a few months after the last big update, which included support for Google’s Contact Center AI (CCAI). Version 6.2 also improves the natural language processing and speech recognition and can make automatic appointments using Google’s calendar and map tools.

“What we’ve built is a visual drag-and-drop platform for the non-technical person,” Dumas said. “We make it easier for businesses to consume those mobile resources.”

Along with the new version of Inference Studio, the company revealed its work creating an automated call-steering application for Pizza Hut Australia. The app connects customers to the central call center or a neighborhood store using natural language processing to understand what callers are saying. 

Repackaged Agents

Inference Solutions offers ways for non-technical people to create customized virtual agents, but the majority of their users are indirect. The major telecommunications and call center companies such as AT&T and Cisco purchase the agents much like the contract for a human agent. They can then be adjusted and resold as a feature for their own clients. 

“We tend to be unique because we are designed to be repackaged and resold to others,” Dumas said. “No other platform is designed to deploy that way. The reason we have more customers than anyone else is the reselling through providers.”