by Chris Bucholtz
If you've had any experience trying to increase customer engagement with your business, you know that the only constant is change – and the rate of change is constantly accelerating. Not only are customers expanding the ways they interact with the businesses they buy from, but emerging technologies are enabling businesses to make those conversations more personalized, productive and on-point.
Want an example? Take a look at self-service. An increasing number of customers prefer to solve their problems "on their own," which really means they take advantage of the tools and processes companies design for them to resolve issues without talking to an agent. A survey by Zendesk and market research firm Loudhouse found that 53 percent of customers think it is important for them to resolve their own product problems rather than rely on customer service representatives.
Chatbots are a key part of that self-service puzzle. Used right and they can answer a large percentage of the questions that come your company's way, allowing your agents to field the calls that require human expertise and empathy. Think of specific questions that can be answered by leading the customer through a set of finite and specific answers; bots are great for those.
"Here's the thing - AI isn't a one-size-fits all. You need to customize it, train it with domain specific data, decide how to best deploy it," said Tsahi Levent-Levi, digital communications consultant and analyst, and founder of BlogGeek.me. "This requires flexibility and integration options. When it comes to communication APIs, the challenge is that now we don't only need to be about to control communication paths via APIs, but also to directly connect and engage with the actual content of the communications."
After you define what you want the bot to ask the customer about, you're then faced with the real challenge: how should the bot respond? As we mentioned earlier, change is constant, and that means the best response for a bot today may not be the right one tomorrow. How do you detect when it's time to change, and how do you know the best changes to make to your processes?
Bots collect data in their day-to-day operation; combining that data with Artificial Intelligence (AI) can alert managers to changing trends, direct adaptations to processes, and give managers far more visibility into their customer transactions than they've ever had before. By enabling businesses to spot changing trends faster and to learn from every exchange with a customer, AI enables your business to interact with customers in the most effective method possible, even as those customers' preferences change day-to-day. And don't think that bots are the only conduit of information for training AI - data collected from voice conversations can be used as well if you've chosen the right voice-based systems.
Don't think of AI as the wave of the future - it's here now, influencing the ways customers interact with businesses. Some examples:
- Novo Labs has created a conversational commerce service for taking restaurant orders through high-volume voice channels, turning voice interactions into digital transactions that can be personalized and optimized using their artificial intelligence platform.
Talkpush conversational recruitment software engagements with candidates through Whatsapp's chat and voice capabilities which employ an AI-powered chatbot to make exchanges and communications between recruiters and candidates easier, more authentic, and more informative.
Exceed Software uses bots not just for voice but also for text and chat-based sales conversations, using AI to adapt the bots to the best ways to contact, engage, follow-up, qualify and book meetings with sales leads, using natural, two-way conversations.
Carbyne uses AI to deliver what it calls "fused information" about 911 calls to emergency communication centers. These rich snapshots of the problem provide response teams with more detailed critical information about the incident, based on voice, image and data analysis.
There's a reason these companies are pushing forward quickly while others are struggling to unify AI, bot and other technologies into their own versions of conversational AI. Vonage has done much of the footwork by combining the power of Nexmo, the Vonage API platform, with products from a wide network of technology partners, including application providers providing pre-packaged applications, technology partners offering complementary APIs, and integration providers who can tailor them into custom solutions. To see a list of partner and customer examples in action, see the press release.
Through the Nexmo Connect partner program, companies are not forced to struggle assembling and maintaining a next-generation communication solution on their own. Instead, they can focus on selecting the components of the solution designed to deliver the customer experience they want to deliver, integrated into their existing app, website or voice-based communication system. The technology enables your bots to reflect your company's values, but it doesn't determine them. Instead of focusing energy on how to make the technology work, you can focus on what you want to do to enable your customers achieve what they want to achieve and, in the process, deliver a superior customer experience.