In 1956, the term artificial intelligence (AI) was first coined and used to solve mathematical problems. In the early 2000s, the advancements in AI were exponential, and today, it has application in almost every single aspect of our lives. If the 1980s were the “AI winter,” 2020 marks the beginning of an AI heatwave.
Last week, the International Data Corporation (IDC) released a report forecasting that worldwide spending on AI will double and reach $100 billion by 2024. The IDC projects that retail and banking sectors will be the biggest AI spenders and with a particular focus on businesses leveraging AI to improve customer service. This hardly comes as surprise given that businesses are already seeing ineffective customer service during the COVID-19 pandemic impact their bottom line.
Businesses across a variety of sectors are using conversational AI to help improve their customer service experience. This will be easier said than done because not all conversational AI technology is created equal.
Call volume and consumer expectations during the pandemic have risen.
Making the caller feel heard:
People have a basic need to feel heard. Being on hold for extended periods takes away from the experience even if satisfactory service is eventually provided. Conversational AI is built on the concept of responding to the exact utterance of words the caller is using.
Through the use of conversational AI, businesses can leverage natural language processing and machine learning to create a human-like interaction that allows callers to speak freely, as opposed to having to say a pre-determined set of phrases. Ensuring that the customer and the virtual agent are effectively communicating requires a complex set of processes and sophisticated technology that understands meaning and context which is key to allowing the customer to speak naturally.
A highly sophisticated conversational AI technology solution incorporates the understanding of different languages, accents, and intent. Additionally, it can switch between subjects at any point during the conversation and has unstructured, context-sensitive memory, and understanding.
A generational divide in communication preferences is more obvious than ever. Millennials and Gen Z grew up in the age of Siri and are likely to opt-in for a digital customer service experience. People who are less technologically savvy are more willing to stay on hold to speak to a representative.
Businesses need to find an effective way to communicate with all customers. AI-powered omnichannel capabilities enable consumers to communicate with a business through their preferred channel of communication (IVR, text, phone, webchat, smart speaker, or social media) and have a seamless customer service experience. An advanced omnichannel virtual assistant needs to be developed only once and can be deployed across any customer communication channel.
Conversational AI can be leveraged for the needs of a particular sector, which is then adjusted to meet the likely requests of the customers of the business in that sector. That means that a virtual contact center would have the ability to recognize the vocabulary that is more likely to be used in banking as opposed to in healthcare.
More sophisticated conversational IVR solutions leverage advanced self-learning AI capabilities to capture multiple intents and increase the routing accuracy of a caller’s request. The technology can be trained to remember and understand dynamic and indirect references frequently used in a sector or a line of business.
So, to serve customers effectively, a conversational AI solution must be tailored to a specific business or a sector. Only then can the technology be implemented to understand and confirm a customer’s request and respond to it?
AI can help protect businesses and consumers from fraud in addition to sustaining consumer confidence in the business. Phone channel fraud in particular has increased 350% over the last 4 years. Although every organization is susceptible to fraud to an extent, conversational AI can add a layer of protection through the use of passive voice biometrics.
Passive voice biometrics can verify a person’s identity by creating a consumer voiceprint which reflects the unique sound of that person’s voice. This capability is important because scammers are increasingly able to bypass traditional caller verification methods such as passwords, security questions, and one-time passcodes sent via text or email.
Beyond the security capabilities, the combination of AI and voice biometrics can shorten the time a consumer spends on the phone by 70 to 80%, saving businesses significant resources they cannot afford to lose during the pandemic.
There have been significant strides in innovation and the application of conversational AI solutions up until now but the pandemic is accelerating the investment in the sector. Businesses are recognizing the need to leverage conversational AI to provide satisfactory customer service experience.
However, companies must first identify conversational AI capabilities that best meet the needs of their customers and their business. We all stand to benefit from deploying AI to communicate better globally and this is our opportunity.