Conversational AI is taking the strain out of customer service – today and in the future
In unprecedented, unpredictable times like the present, organisations across industries are facing a deluge of customer queries from their normally committed patrons, demanding clarity and reassurance. Fulfilling those expectations has never mattered more.
While it’s certainly not business as usual and customers understand this, they won’t quickly forget the companies they chose, and now rely upon for products and services, who were able to support them during a crisis.
Organisations that understand and act on this won’t just come out the other side, they’ll prosper. According to Invesp, acquiring new customers is an investment 5 to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones. Bend over backwards for them now and enjoy loyalty in the long run – job done?
Not quite. As lockdown orders around the world lift and we roll into a competitive rebound market, customers will continue to expect their trusted brands to deliver, while new customers will expect resilient, flexible businesses that can onboard and support their generous custom flawlessly.
Right now, the customer service team’s challenge is two-pronged. On the one hand, it is facing a surge of requests from concerned customers; are their airline tickets transferable, for example? Must they wear a facemask to their first in-person appointment?
On the other, there is the harsh reality of stretched resources and limited capacity to handle these volumes: the ‘traditional’ concept of the physical contact center has been swiftly made unviable by social distancing requirements, while agents are now distributed, working – like many other sectors – through the kinks of remote working.
Customer service cannot be left to lapse and, in the heat of disruption, enterprising businesses are embracing innovation – leveraging solutions that enable them to take a new approach to tried-and-test methods. This is why we, in the business technology press, are suddenly hearing so much about the increasing prevalence of conversational AI in customer care.
From a private dental practice to a professional services giant, practically every company carries a need for a customer response experience that conveniently and securely conveys necessary information to the client, so they can focus on other pressing tasks within the business, or indeed for more time-consuming customer support requests.
AI-driven contact center solutions are right now filling that need for a range of different business types and sizes and, in doing so, are carving out a new breed of customer service for a digitised, on-demand age. There are plenty of plucky, cutting-edge startups pushing their way into this market – that tech giant Google also sees this as the next era is further evidence of its potential to rapidly scale now, and in the coming year.
The better solutions available now have the ability to be programmed to adapt to increasingly specific conversation tracks, while still retaining the ‘voice’ of the enterprise that is deploying them, to be on the frontline in managing customers’ expectations and addressing their pressing concerns related to the business.
By leveraging machine learning (ML) and natural language processing (NLP), AI-driven ‘virtual assistants’ have matured enough that they can comprehend the intention behind customer requests, are able to keep track of a customer’s entire conversation history and crucially, in times of stressful uncertainty, are able to interact with customers in a natural, near-human tone of communicating.
The end result of these cutting-edge solutions is that their users can field a surge in customer service requests around the clock, flexibly across multiple channels and devices, alleviating teams to enhance and develop services products, or engage with customers for more meaningful, emotion-driven interactions.
As the technology has evolved, so too has the quantity of conversational AI full-suite solutions grown in the market. Today Tech Wire Asia looks at some of the top AI-powered customer service solutions that are helping to shape omnichannel customer care going forward, both today and going forward.
Nuance Communications is the pioneer and leader in conversational AI innovations that bring intelligence to everyday work and life. For 20+ years, Nuance has worked with thousands of companies across financial services, government, telecommunications, retail, healthcare and more to create stronger relationships and better customer experiences.
To help businesses exceed rising consumer expectations, Nuance has developed secure omni‑channel solutions that leverage conversational AI to deliver world-class customer interactions. Ranked first for enterprise customer service by Forrester, Nuance’s virtual assistant Nina is one of these technologies. Businesses like IP Australia and Jetstar use Nina to engage customers in intelligent automated conversations with a human touch across digital channels.
Nuance’s biometric security solution Gatekeeper is used globally by organisations like the Australian Tax Office and National Australia Bank to authenticate customers using their voice, face or other biometric modalities across channels and stop fraudsters. Last year, this prevented over US$2 billion in fraud, secured more than 8 billion transitions worldwide and increased customer and contact centre agent satisfaction.
Nuance Mix was launched in April, enabling organisations to develop conversational AI their way. The enterprise-grade “DIY” toolset empowers teams to create natural, engaging conversational experiences for smart speakers, chatbots, virtual assistants and more with ease.
Learn why 85 per cent of Fortune 100 companies work with Nuance—read the full profile on Tech Wire Asia.
Since being founded in 2018, NitroBots has been helping to transform lead generation tools by harnessing AI and ML techniques. Having been experienced in lead generation tools prior to focusing on customer response software, NitroBot solutions help automate back-of-house processes equally well, such as improving sales efficiency with automated sales scheduling.
Their conversational AI solutions now extend to three: Virtual Sales Assistant, Virtual Quote Assistant, and Virtual Customer Assistant. NitroBots helps drive engagement growth with multichannel integrations which are constantly being added to, which now include email, SMS, WhatsApp, as well as AI-enabled chatbots for website, social media like Facebook, and SMS deployments.
NitroBots also integrates with minimal fuss with a number of other customer relationship management (CRM) tools and is able to track data analytics from these integrations as well. Have specific needs in mind that the core solutions don’t address? NitroBots is fully-customisable and is able to be set up and deployed within four weeks.
Inbenta’s AI-driven solutions were developed specifically with enterprises in mind. Inbenta combines enterprise-grade AI engine with machine learning and their own unique NLP engine to supply precise replies to customer requests. The AI engine does this smartly, detecting the context of each individual conversation thread, to accurately provide the right answer to specific questions.
In addition, Inbenta makes use of a Dialog Manager to identify and customise the paths of customer conversations, determining different response paths and attributing certain conversation flows towards certain responses and agents. This has helped make Inbenta’s conversational AI as multifaceted as its Call Center AI, using varied conversation flows to determine how agents should handle different situations.
If all else fails, Inbenta’s virtual agent is intelligent enough to escalate the conversation to a human support agent. To give the conversational AI more of a personality, Inbenta allows a custom avatar to be created too for your platforms.
*Some of the companies featured on this article are commercial partners of Tech Wire Asia