Microsoft announced the preview of a new generative AI-powered email in Microsoft Viva Sales. Omdia predicts the launch will give rise to ChatGPT-powered email in the contact center.
In early February 2023, Microsoft announced the preview of a new generative AI-powered email in Microsoft Viva Sales that promotes efficient communications for sellers. Microsoft intends to make the technology generally available within the next two months. The AI-powered capability leverages Azure OpenAI and ChatGPT to access customer relationship management (CRM) data from Microsoft Cloud and then auto-suggests customizable content and auto-generates an email. The value proposition is that sellers will spend less time composing emails and searching databases for information. Omdia predicts the launch will provide momentum for the deployment of ChatGPT-powered email in the contact center.
ChatGPT-powered email would streamline work for contact center agents
With ChatGPT, Viva Sales can remind sellers to follow up with prospects or customers and auto-generate responses along with sending product descriptions and proposals. Sellers can personalize responses based on a range of categories, from “make a proposal” to “reply to an inquiry.” Microsoft 365, Windows, Microsoft Enterprise Mobility + Security, Microsoft Dynamics 365, and Salesforce can all be utilized to enrich email replies with data.
In an analyst briefing on February 8, Microsoft said the technology currently offers no learning of tonal style, which is the technology’s ability to converse in human-like, emotive, and expressive characteristics. The roadmap, however, includes two levels of tonal learning. Until then, Microsoft will offer custom prompts that alert users with suggestions like, “try this to make it sound happy.” Microsoft also said that it believes the technology can learn the tone and style of individual customers and bring that inflection into replies. That ability to express emotion is best suited for the customer care domain, where conveying empathy and reducing customer frustration are important aspects of the customer experience.
Although no pivotal use cases currently exist, as enterprises train ChatGPT on their data, it will change the way they access and consume data across the enterprise. Omdia believes ChatGPT-powered email in the contact center will serve as one of the initial use cases. It highlights where the technology excels the most—by fine-tuning a model on a dataset of conversational text, it can learn how to generate naturally sounding and contextually relevant text-based conversations. This ability to understand complex questions and then automate naturally sounding and relevant email responses could bring significant value to the contact center, especially with email.
Recent Omdia insights support this. According to Omdia’s The State of Digital CX: 2022 Analysis survey, when asked which channels they use the most to interact with customers, many of the respondents—leaders in customer service and customer experience—cited email as the top communications channel. 47% said that it was their most-often used channel. The appetite for AI adoption and deployment is also large. According to Omdia’s IT Enterprise Insights: ICT Drivers and Technology Priorities – 2023, 59% of respondents said they place high importance on the adoption of AI and machine learning to advance their digital strategies over the next 18 months. In the same survey, respondents cited the need to increase efficiencies as one of the top priorities for 2023.
While generative AI–powered email via Viva Sales holds great promise, the market is already home to plenty of AI-powered email tools that effectively collect data, analyze it, and draft comprehensive emails to companies’ target audiences. Most of the tools learn a company’s brand voice and then generate emails. Whether ChatGPT differs from these products is immaterial. Generative AI-powered email for sales will serve as a rising tide that may eventually help to advance AI-powered email deployments in the contact center, owing to its promise of efficiently executing tasks and lowering operating costs once the technology is rooted and proven. At that inflection point, it should enable level four agent augmentation, where customers only interact with digital agents.
Since ChatGPT debuted last November, much has been written about its potential use cases in the contact center. While the generative AI landscape must first overcome a range of hurdles from potential ethical implications, data privacy laws, and even accuracy issues, the general takeaway is that generative AI, such as ChatGPT, will revolutionize customer service with its ability to handle multiple conversations, understand natural language text, and gather valuable customer data.
“Generative AI: How ChatGPT signals new productivity potential in the digital workplace” (February 2023)
IT Enterprise Insights: ICT Drivers and Technology Priorities – 2023 (November 2022)
The State of Digital CX: 2022 Analysis (August 2022)
“Will ChatGPT represent the Future of Customer Service?” (February 2023)
Mila D’Antonio, Principal Analyst, Customer Engagement