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. As its name implies, NLU attempts to understand what someone is really saying.

The most recognizable use of natural language understanding is found in automated assistants like Apple's Siri or Amazon's Alexa. These products use 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 is also used in some interactive voice response (IVR) systems to allow callers to interact with the IVR using conversational language. This can provide a better customer experience, but is more complicated to implement.

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It is the leading, most complete and unified CX Platform on the market, used by thousands of organizations 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 you holistically run your call (or contact) center operations.

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