How conversational AI is transforming the customer experience

Many people are talking to computers. They just don’t know.

After digging into some research, a Forbes author concluded that up to 84% of consumers had been aided by machines. However, about half had no idea that they weren’t talking to humans. How is this kind of relationship possible? You can welcome the pervasiveness of artificial intelligence (AI).

AI: Helps Professionals Get Their Work Done

Although AI has gotten quite a bit of press in recent years, it’s not as new as you might think. Harvard University reporting locations the beginnings of AI squarely in the mid-twentieth century. However, as an article in The New York Times points out, it has so far been taken to mean AI will become mainstream. Honestly, AI is built into almost everything we do, right down to turning off lights before bed through connected devices.

What makes AI so attractive? Above all, it is a way to achieve tremendous efficiency while reducing errors. That is why many executives are open to incorporating artificial intelligence in all departments, such as HR, with many people. Let’s face it: AI-powered software, programs, and solutions never tire. They don’t need breaks or PTO. They don’t give up either. Instead, they keep running their algorithms, and in the case of machine learning, they get smarter.

Consequently, AI has been leveraged to enhance a multitude of business goals, especially the goal of exceptional and improved customer experiences.

Conversational AI: a boon for customer relationships

It’s no wonder that many companies struggle to find the right balance in customer service. Trying to meet consumer demand for immediate (and accurate) help can be challenging. Additionally, customers are notoriously fickle when it comes to service expectations, especially after the 2020 pandemic. During Covid, many became increasingly brand agnostic, making them less likely to surrender their loyalty. However, organizations are not always equipped with the power of people to meet customer expectations.

This is where AI, and especially conversational AI, can help. Businesses around the world are leveraging conversational artificial intelligence to improve their customer experience operations.

What is conversational AI? It is any programming that allows machines to interact with humans in a language-based context. For example, chatbots are an excellent example of conversational AI because they fuel a convenient person-to-software exchange. In other words, they feel and sound natural, right down to the pauses between responses.

Conversational AI has many applications within the context of customer relationship management. Here are some of the ways you are paving the way to improve the connections between buyers and brands.

1. Improve customer self-service.

According to Kate Leggett, Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester, people like to feel empowered. This desire extends to their customer service experiences and becomes a reason for organizations to try self-service. “Self-service offers personalized engagement, increases customer satisfaction, and lowers operating costs by diverting common customer inquiries,” says Legett.

However, how can you be sure your self-service media doesn’t feel clunky or robotic? Choose a conversational AI system that effectively leverages machine learning and natural language processing to deliver a seamless user experience.

Contact center solution Ellen DePodesta from Five9 explains how advanced conversational AI systems such as intelligent virtual agents set the stage for exceptional self-service. According to Depodesta, “Virtual agents improve results by rapidly moving customers through the process to identify and resolve the reason for their call.” He adds that with the right conversational AI programming, customers can enjoy fewer friction points, improving their overall experience.

Bottom line? Giving customers options on how to solve problems (with a little help from AI) helps them feel more in control. Plus, it takes the burden off customer service employees to deal with issues that are easily resolved. In the end, all those interested end up happier.

2. Level the playing field.

You can be sure that giants like Amazon use artificial intelligence throughout the shopping and fulfillment experience. However, conversational AI is not limited to “big gamers.” Any organization can test AI.

With many conversational AI vendors on the scene, almost any business, including startups, can experiment with adding AI to their sales and support toolkit. Yes, larger companies can afford enterprise-grade systems. Still, smaller emerging technologies are competitively priced to remove entry barriers to the conversational AI market.

This provides a huge advantage for startups with big ideas and limited capital looking for good conversations with clients. Being able to invest in affordable conversational AI software allows them to appear bigger. In addition, it gives companies the opportunity to deliver exceptional results for clients without increasing payroll.

3. Acts in a caring capacity.

Although CNBC concludes that about 27% of young workers fear of AI taking over their works, AI is not a proposal of one or the other. In fact, conversational artificial intelligence software can serve alongside human customer service representatives. This allows agents to get work done faster and gain an advantage over the competition.

Consider having a customer service agent receive a live call. During the exchange, a conversational AI program could transcribe the dialogue in real time. Consequently, what the caller says could be analyzed by artificial intelligence software for immediate action.

As an example, imagine that a customer tells the agent that they want to know the company’s refund policy. The artificial intelligence software could obtain information about refunds, so the agent does not have to move from one screen to another. Instead, the answer is in front of the agent. Reducing even a minute or two of calls allows agents to help more people.

Conversational AI: the future of customer engagement

Every year, companies find more ways to integrate conversational AI into their best practices. Even now, researchers have experimented with technology that can transform conversational AI bots on virtual faces. In other words, bots begin to acquire visual attributes that make them appear more normalized and realistic. The hope is that this anthropomorphism of conversational AI solutions enables even stronger interactions with the customer and the brand.

There’s no question that conversational AI has already advanced the customer experience. As it continues to evolve, businesses and their buyers will become the beneficiaries of this emerging technology. No one can say exactly how far conversational AI will go, of course. Nonetheless, it is destined to become a primary differentiator between companies.

Image Credit: Shvets Production; pexels; Thank you!

Deanna ritchie

Deanna ritchie

Editor-in-chief at ReadWrite

Deanna is the managing editor for ReadWrite. Previously, she worked as the editor-in-chief of Startup Grind and has over 20 years of content management and content development experience.

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