As the region gears up for post-pandemic growth, Southeast Asian countries are embracing the high tide of its "digital decade," with many businesses taking a digital-first approach. Indonesia is poised to lead the way in this digital decade. Of the 73.7 percent of its population already online, many are very open to adopting new digital habits.
As part of Indonesia’s preference for all things digital, AI-powered technologies such as voice assistants are slowly gaining popularity. While the technology itself is not entirely new – for example, Apple's Siri turns twelve this year – consumers today are now warming up to engaging with businesses via voice assistants: be it for customer service or identity verifications. This is also being seen in other APAC markets such as Singapore, China, and Thailand.
As a co-founder and managing director of a leading voice AI provider in these markets, I have had the opportunity to participate in this transformation first-hand.
There is tremendous potential in Indonesia for voice AI to follow other APAC markets and become the new standard for high-quality customer service. Looking ahead at this opportunity, I'd like to discuss three trends we are seeing in APAC and how this paves the way for voice AI in Indonesia.
The pandemic has created a ripe market for voice AI adoption
The Covid-19 pandemic forced many people to work remotely. This proved to be a turning point for many businesses as they acknowledged that they had to look beyond traditional ways of operations to align with shifting consumer habits. For instance, many businesses faced the challenge of managing their contact center operations when it was impossible to host a team of agents under the same roof.
Across APAC, the Covid-19 pandemic has led more customers to engage with digital services than ever before. In Singapore, 95 percent of government transactions can be completed digitally from end-to-end. Singaporeans have become accustomed to accessing various digital government services, such as registering newborns, getting a business license, or booking a Covid-19 vaccination appointment.
It is similar in Indonesia. The pandemic has created a large digital-savvy, self-sufficient Indonesian population. Most Indonesian Millennials and Gen Z, for example, can confidently engage with brands using QR codes. During the over two years of the pandemic, telehealth users in Indonesia have increased by about 40 times.
This shift in behavior has laid a strong foundation for voice AI in future years – afterall, with more of Indonesians’ daily lives spent digitally, there will be greater demand for customer service on digital platforms. Voice AI thus offers a compelling solution for Indonesian businesses seeking to manage challenging global economic pressures and navigate workforce shortages.
Today's voice AI technology is now able to create conversations almost indistinguishable from humans. Like a call center operator, AI voices can understand customer sentiment on the phone and respond to unique enquiries in real-time. But, unlike a call center operator, voice AI can simultaneously dial thousands of customers and report live analytics back to Indonesian businesses. It gives voice AI cost-effectiveness and scalability benefits.
Use Case and Benefits of Voice AI in Indonesia
There are multiple use-cases where companies have combined Voice AI-technology, NLP, ML, and more into a single platform to develop visual assistants. FSI/Bank, hospital, and telecom companies are at the forefront of this transition.
For instance, Indonesia-based digital credit company JULO struggled to cope with a surge in customer inquiries – with millions of customers across the country – until it found a solution in voice AI. JULO enlisted the use of our voice AI to automate its quality assurance processes.
Voice AI assistants handle customer call logs in real-time to detect anomalies such as abusive language and non-compliance with regulatory requirements. However, of the 5,000 daily recordings processed, only about 50 were brought to the attention of the quality assurance manager for further investigation and analysis.
It has vastly improved the efficiency of JULO's quality assurance department while improving the overall job satisfaction of human agents. Another Indonesian company, Toyota Astra Finance, has also been experiencing high call volumes since the start of the pandemic.
Using our voice AI for loan collection, the company has freed up its collection agents to handle more complex issues requiring a human touch while leaving high-volume repetitive tasks to voice AI. As a result, the team has been able to significantly improve the call center's contact rate and efficiency and extend operating hours without incurring additional costs from overtime.
Voice AI can bridge the gap between various dialects and languages, providing a cost-effective and scalable means to engage with customers in their language and vernacular of choice.
I have seen this work first-hand in Indonesia, where more than 700 dialects are spoken. Using voice AI, we have worked with brands to create unique AI voices tailored to a range of dialects, making customer service much easier for those missed by traditional call centers.
Businesses could greatly benefit from implementing Voice AI
Many businesses, such as the call center business, could use voice AI. Also, voice biometrics is used for customer data security, such as FSI, as an essential complement to other biometrics to recognize customers. It is usually done in the customer onboarding process. Speech recognition and other biometrics could be holistically used for end customers, such as to verify residents or guests for smart door locks in the smart home systems.
One thing I am most proud of at AI Rudder is our commitment to delivering AI voices that are human-like, authentic and localized, truly providing a natural and seamless conversation for customers who often aren't aware of whom they're speaking with. For example, one of the first AI voices we developed was an Australian accent, and most customers that it speaks to find the voice indistinguishable from an Australian call center operator.
In each country we have entered, we have committed to building the same for businesses. Voice AI has the potential to revolutionize customer service in Indonesia, but above all, it must place authenticity at the heart of the customer experience.
Kun Wu is the co-founder and managing director of AI Rudder. The views expressed in this article are those of the author.