Microsoft’s $19.7B Nuance Acquisition Fuels New Voice AI Contact Center
Microsoft unveiled the new AI-powered Digital Contact Center Platform this week at its Inspire 2022 conference. The voice and text-based customer service system relies on conversational AI technology built by Microsoft’s $19.7 billion acquisition of Nuance Communications which closed in March.
Nuance created a customer service AI platform of its own before the acquisition, but the Microsoft offering enlarges on it with features from Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Teams, among other sources. Microsoft has discussed plans to make Nuance the centerpiece of its contact center since first announcing the Nuance acquisition. The alloyed software provides virtual agents to handle customer phone calls and messages. The voice AI can identify customers based on audio biometrics and includes a tool for judging customer emotions and formulating the best response called Context IQ. Microsoft is distributing the customer engagement options through Accenture-Avanade, with other major partners also acting as sellers for the platform. Organizations can import the system as a whole or integrate it into their current contact centers.
“The platform brings together a comprehensive yet flexible solution for contact centers, delivering best-in-class AI that powers self-service experiences, live customer engagements, collaborative agent experiences, business process automation, advanced telephony, and fraud prevention capabilities,” Microsoft head of business applications and platform Charles Lamanna wrote in a blog post. “The addition of Nuance brings a new level of conversational AI, security, and automation to the contact center. This gives both customers and agents tools to resolve issues faster and with more personalized service, thus reducing resolution times while improving customer satisfaction. It also enables contact centers to offer targeted incentives to build brand loyalty and upsell opportunities to boost revenue.”
Combining conversational AI and customer service has exploded as a business model in the last few years. Giants like Microsoft share a crowded field with startups cashing huge investment checks and writing their own to buy up others. Glia raised $45 million and then bought Finn AI, while Gupshup applied the $340 million it raised last year to go on a whole spending spree purchasing conversational AI providers specializing in verticals like banking and e-commerce. And while Zoom failed in its $14.7 billion bid to purchase Five9, it recently rebounded by buying Solvvy for a different tack on customer service AI.
“In today’s digital world, brand reputation is synonymous with customer experience, including the quality of customer care. Consumers expect effortless, consistent, and secure experiences across any point of contact they choose—in fact, their brand perception and customer loyalty depend on it,” Lamanna wrote. “With the stakes this high, companies need a comprehensive yet flexible solution to modernize their customer care experience.”