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How Conversational AI Will Change Customer Service

We have seen huge advancements in AI technology in recent years, and more precisely in conversational AI which is being employed more and more by companies to supply on demand customer service.

But, will the quality of customer service improve with these changes? Companies have sped towards conversational AI in the hopes of saving costs, but consumers can often be left disappointed by their encounters with the technology, as user requests can be misinterpreted or simply met with a lack of empathy. What can be done?

Drastic changes are already occurring in the customer relationship

Conversational AI is becoming more technically sophisticated to include text and voice, intent recognition and user context recognition. The latest trends in NLP (Natural Language Processing) now consider user context as a key point to understand user requests. Bots can offer a high dialog management by understanding context and adapt their responses according to contextual information, just like humans do.  Regarding communication channels, voice-enabled interfaces are getting more popular than ever, with no screen interfaces. When combined with automation, conversational AI can offer a complete service at any time without human intervention, a more cost-effective solution.

Conversational AI is now employing emotion to enhance the credibility of an interaction, enabling consumers to build a more social relationship with bots. It may sound surprising, but some chatbots even express a personality and this is shown to have a more positive impact on the customer experience. Amazon Alexa now has an emotional engine which has improved user satisfaction by 30%. For example, consumers can now ask Alexa how their favourite team has performed in a recent game and expect an enthusiastic response from Alexa if their team has won.

Emotion intensity should be flexible when introducing a personality model, with some chatbots more extroverted than others. This is context dependent. Your chatbot must read emotional content from the user and respond accordingly. Emotional intensity is also environment dependent. Typically, humans who interact with customers in sales must show more excitement and positivity. Therefore, a sales chatbot must be as extroverted. On the other hand, a help desk chatbot, dealing with queries or complaints after sales, would be less so. Different roles equate to different emotions.

Conversational AI : a success or failure story ?

While many companies are turning to chatbots and voice bots in their customer services, user satisfaction is not always reached. While 59% of business decision makers believe this technological investment will improve the quality of their customer service, consumer perception is not so high. According to a study by the Opinion Matters Institute for Freshworks, 36% of french consumers questioned would prefer to never have to interact with robots, while 30% reported chatbots performed commands inaccurately.

People can become easily frustrated by chatbots. When it comes to urgent demands, many prefer a human agent, believing a human will understand both their urgency and frustration better than a chatbot.

Of course, these opinions are subject to change. The technology is advancing quickly but public opinion is also changing. Resistance to chatbots results, in part, from matters of generation. Young people like to chat and are familiar with chatbots, so much so that chatbots will someday become an expectation. Chatbots stand to be a great success on many platforms, online clothing brands being one example. However, regardless of generation, companies must care about utmost customer satisfaction in order to implement a successful chatbot.

A strong team is the key to success

The true ingredient to implementing conversational AI successfully is surrounding yourself with a strong team. You will need experts in conversational design, NLP, machine learning and UX strategy. This trend is fast-growing and requires different and new skills. Unfortunately, there is not yet any degree specialized in such systems, so employees should be flexible and willing to learn new skills. AI technology is advancing quickly so you will need a team of quick learners!

What does the future of conversational AI look like?

By the end of 2020, Business Insider experts predict that 80% of enterprises will be using chatbots. Gartner predicts that by 2021, AI will be used to handle 15% of all customer service interactions, which is a 400% increase from 2017. According to Lauren Foye, by 2022, banks can automate up to 90% of their customer interactions using chatbots. Therefore, the demand for conversational AI is only increasing, regardless of current customer frustrations.

The way forward is clear. Companies should explore and adopt conversational AI in order to take advantage of all its benefits. However, in order to avoid customer disappointment or frustration, it is important to gather a strong team in order to launch and run the project successfully.