Vonage is one Unified Ccommunications provider with plenty of homegrown APIs, the kind designed to create various experiences for its customers. There is an API for voice, SMS, video, and even an API built to help verify customers at scale - called Verify API. 

Already working with brands like Allstate, Kickstarter, and Domino's, it has just released a new set of enhancements to its video API: which means that it now offers up a new batch of artificial intelligence-powered enhancements set to help brands better extend customer service via video. 

In a statement, Vonage notes that the set of enhancements will lend customers "increased accessibility and automated, real-time media processing to optimize video engagement." But what does this mean? According to Vonage: it means the firm hopes to meet customers where they are - not where brands assume customers might want to be.

And customer experiences that occur via video appear more commonplace today than before, as made evident by UCC firms like Zoom, which have also extended the ability to video chat with contact center agents for advanced customer service.  Last year, it launched its omnichannel contact center offering, which lets agents escalate calls to video interactions if needed.

Now, Vonage is the latest to have also done so, looking to keep up with growing customer expectations.  

And customers are craving deeper: more meaningful; customer interactions with brands, at least according to the 2022 Sitecore Brand Authenticity Report, which found that: "70% of Americans crave deeper, more personal connections with brands, signaling that the future of brand experience is all about authenticity and empathy."


Brand Loyalty is not a Given, Report Finds

According to that same Sitecore report, a mere one-third or U.S., based consumers or less say they are "very loyal" to their favorite brand. A whopping *two-thirds* of American consumers said they have stopped shopping with a brand.

They noted that they'd never consider returning following a poor experience: amounting to 66% of Americans, making meeting those folks where they are all the more strategic in this business climate. With the move to launch its new AI-centric CX tools, Vonage has tapped into something it appears to understand - companies can't take customers for granted, as their returning is not a given.

That, and customers crave options for reaching brands. Such a sentiment may especially hold in some vertical markets like healthcare, where doctors can escalate calls with patients to a video chat - given the solution meets the various patient-doctor privacy and security regulations that exist globally.

It could be precisely this kind of patient experience (or CX) that may mean the difference in customer retention or a higher churn rate. And walking that line remains a challenge for many companies that do not leverage the proper technology to pull off such a feat. 

As Vonage looks to do just that - its new functionalities could (very well) assist brands in delivering more customer empathy. Or at least it seems. I will break down the implications of the launch, which are far-reaching and fairly CX-centric. 


What Did Vonage launch? 

Vonage's Video API is robust, boasting many advanced capabilities like SIP interconnect, messaging, video chat embeds, audio detection, custom video streams, audio/video recording, and advanced analytics - from a single pane of glass.

It (just) added two new capabilities, an audio connector, and a media processor. Via the audio connector: users can natively connect to any AI service provider. That means they can process and analyze audio streams from a live video session:

"Including speech recognition and other purpose-built engines to enable live captions, automated transcripts, translations, Electronic Health Records (EHR), indexing, media intelligence, and more," according to a statement released by the New Jersey-based UCC firm. 

Its new media processor feature leverages the might of machine learning to enable real-time video to block, highlight or track specific video and audio elements: this could mean blur and background filters; or the ability to (solely) focus on the speaker and noise suppression. 

"This increases customer focus and engagement by minimizing distraction and sharing personal information such as location and setting," Vonage remarked. The entire cloud-based experience is now in beta and available via web and mobile browsers.

It is noteworthy to mention, although not a new functionality: the Vonage Video API offers support for end-to-end encryption. Vonage's Video API end-to-end encryption is furthermore; compatible with its latest "media processor" applications. As such, it can preserve filters, including backgrounds applied to real-time video.


Vonage Recognized for Low/No Code Solution 

Last year Vonage launched Vonage AI-Studio, a way for companies to launch low/no-code tools with no experience necessary. This year, it was named a winner in the 2022-2023 Cloud Awards for its efforts in cloud computing. It received the "Best Use of Artificial Intelligence in Cloud Computing" for its low code/no code solution Vonage AI Studio.

The solution's goal is to eliminate some of the burden felt by development teams and those in IT; as companies grow evermore stressed for talent in that arena - having someone qualified enough to build such experiences can prove challenging. 

The tool leverages AI to enable customers to design and implement low code/no code customer engagement solutions that operate within the (realm of) natural language, leveraging AI.

"With intelligent conversations, Vonage AI Studio helps businesses elevate customer engagement through personalized and automated interactions across channels such as voice, SMS, and messaging apps such as WhatsApp," Vonage wrote in a statement. 

The tools - in practice, make things like self-service, answering frequently asked questions, billing inquiries, scheduling appointments, and a lot more, well, simpler.

Once more, looking at that report by Sitecore, it seems Vonage is onto something. Americans remain "fairly split." It notes that nearly one in three say they are "digital-only shoppers." That amounts to 30%, while virtually half note that they enjoy shopping in-store shopping; totaling 46%.

The takeaway, therefore, should be that brands have to make a massive effort to extend enhanced customer experience across every channel to support every customer. This is because, as we have grown to know during the pandemic: all customers have a lot of power, particularly enraged ones.

A satisfied customer, on the other hand, likely spells out a high probability of a returning customer.