Deploying new technology can be a bit of a Catch-22. When implemented successfully, customer service (CX) technology can improve customer satisfaction, increase loyalty and forge lifelong relationships that are critical in today’s environment. However, if brands deploy simply for technology’s sake or overcomplicate the customer experience, it can frustrate, alienate and drive away customers.
Implementing new digital processes to improve customer experience is critical, but it must be done intentionally. One such technology is Conversational AI. While it holds promise, not all Conversational AI is created equal and companies need to know how to best implement an AI program that will address customers’ needs and nurture customer loyalty, rather than frustrating customers.
Conversational AI, Defined
What, exactly, is Conversational AI and how can it help your business? At its most basic, Conversational AI is a type of intelligent virtual assistant (IVA), designed to learn and adapt over time to customers’ changing needs. It allows humans to talk to computers as if they were humans — think Dave getting answers from Hal that don’t sound like the HAL 9000. With Conversational AI, callers can have a more natural conversation with a robot, rather than simply speaking in one-word commands or responding to simple yes-or-no scenarios.
IVA shows a lot of promise for elevating the customer experience, and companies are starting to take notice. A research study showed that 18% of companies currently use IVA to assist with CX, and a further 23% were exploring the technology. The benefits can be substantial — using IVA can reduce costs, retain customers and increase customer spend. However, companies should deploy strategically, to avoid alienating customers with poor tech.
Considerations for Conversational AI Development and Deployment
Your customers know the value of CX as much as you do: 80% of customers believe that the quality of service a company provides is just as important as its products or services. Further, 80% also expect the same level of service regardless of channel. In this environment, the quality of your Conversational AI needs to be equal or greater to the quality of your humans. Conversational AI applications vary in their levels of complexity, and this can result in dramatically different end products (and different experiences as a result) for the end user.
Here’s some important things to take into consideration when choosing a Conversational AI application:
- Design: You can have great technology, but customer experience will fall short if the design is subpar. The key to design is to truly understand the business, the industry, and the customer and how the technology is best applied throughout that specific customer journey.
- Integration: Your technology should be integrated into back-end systems that provide a more personalized customer experience.
- Partnership: Your partners should be well-versed in your industry, to better address your customers’ needs.
Humans: Still Necessary
Robots aren’t quite yet coming for peoples’ jobs — they can’t. Humans are still needed to tune and train AI models, both in real-time and after the fact. Continuous improvement makes for an optimal experience at the moment of need. Further, improving the accuracy of Conversational AI means more customers can be supported through self-service — freeing agents from low-level tasks and giving them more complex customer challenges to solve.
It’s important to note that the role of humans will change over time. Agents these days are faster and more accurate thanks in part to the CX technology created to support them. Technology of the future will go even further by executing along the entire breadth of interaction, allowing customers to fully self-service. However, even in this new age of CX, humans will be necessary to guide Conversational AI when either human judgment or creative thinking is needed.
When implementing Conversational AI, you’ll want a partner fluent in AI for both CX and your company’s industry. Customers’ wants and needs will vary greatly by industry. You’ll want a partner that understands your customers’ specific needs and can address them through intelligent Conversational AI.
Conversational AI shows great promise adding to the bottom line. A recent report found that users of IVAs enjoyed greater year-on-year revenue as well as increased customer profit margins. When done right, technology will delight and amaze you customers. When done wrong, it will only frustrate and alienate them. Your goal should be to achieve the former and avoid the latter.
Discover how Interactions can improve your CX technology stack at interactions.com.
Tim is the senior manager of research and content for Simpler Media Group. In his role he writes content, market guides and data-driven research reports for all of SMG’s internal and external clients.