What is Natural Language Understanding (NLU)?

Natural language understanding (NLU) is technology that allows humans to interact with computers in normal, conversational syntax. This artificial intelligence-driven capability is an important subset of natural language processing (NLP) that sorts through misspelled words, bad grammar, and mispronunciations to derive a person's actual intent. This requires not only processing the words that are said or written, but also analyzing context and recognizing sentiment. Like its name implies, natural language understanding (NLU) attempts to understand what someone is really saying.

The most recognizable use of natural language understanding (NLU) is for automated assistants like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa. These products use natural language understanding (NLU) to interpret questions and commands and respond, for example, by providing answers, playing a requested song, or placing an order. Machine learning allows them to get smarter over time and with ongoing use.

Natural language understanding (NLU) in the contact center

Natural language understanding (NLU) currently has two prominent roles in contact centers. Chatbots are automated agents that use NLU to interact with consumers in online chat sessions. They can initiate the session by greeting the customer, solve simple problems, and collect information that can be forwarded to a human agent. Natural language understanding (NLU) is also used in some interactive voice response (IVR) systems to allow callers to interact with the system using conversational language. This can provide a better customer experience but is more complicated to implement.

How NICE inContact can help

NICE inContact CXone is the market leading call center software in use by thousands of customers of all sizes around the world to help them consistently deliver exceptional customer experiences. CXone is a cloud native, unified suite of applications designed to help a company holistically run its call (or contact) center operations.

CXone includes:

Omnichannel Routing – routing and interaction management that empowers agents to positively and productively interact with customers in digital and voice channels. These solutions include an automatic call distributor (ACD), interactive voice response (IVR), interaction channel support and proactive outbound dialer.

Workforce Optimization – unlocks the potential of your team by inspiring employees' self-improvement, amplifying quality management efforts to enhance customer experience and reducing labor waste. These solutions include workforce management (WFM), quality management (QM), customer satisfaction surveys and performance management (PM).

Automation & Artificial Intelligence (AI) – leading-edge, intuitive technology that eliminates mundane tasks and speeds resolutions of customer issues for better business outcomes. It provides self-service, agent-assisted and fully automated alerts and actions.

CXone also includes pre-defined CRM integrations and UCaaS integrations with most leading solutions on the market. These integrations provide a holistic call center software solution capable of elevating customer experiences for companies of all sizes.