Why brands need to focus on conversational CX platforms
Talk of artificial intelligence, and its impact on society is everywhere. Whether it is providing the brains behind autonomous vehicles or radically transforming the world of work, the disruption that AI brings is likely to be enormous.
However, as with all new technologies adoption will vary across markets and applications and progress will be controlled by other factors, such as consumer concerns around safety. As Gartner points out in its 2018 Hype Cycle, we are unlikely to see autonomous flying cars transporting passengers around our cities anytime soon.
The Hype Cycle focuses on technologies that will deliver a high degree of competitive advantage over the next decade, and positions them according to their readiness for mass adoption. All new technologies tend to go through a journey, starting with excitement around innovation but then become overhyped, leading to disillusionment. It is only when (or if) they make their way forward that they become productive and useful in business or everyday life.
This year’s Hype Cycle covers 17 technologies, spread across five key trends:
- Democratized AI (AI reaching the mass market)
- Digitalized ecosystems (New, platform-based IT ecosystems)
- Do-it-yourself biohacking (Augmenting human capabilities with everything from implants to diagnostics)
- Transparently immersive experiences (smart workspaces and connected homes allowing more personalized, contextualized experiences)
- Ubiquitous infrastructure (Moving beyond existing Cloud platforms with technologies such as quantum computing)
These clearly vary in their immediate impact, but one the stands out is the move to AI-powered conversational platforms, part of the Democratized AI trend. While this is seen as being mainstream in 5-10 years, when it comes to customer experience, many organizations are already adopting AI, in the form of chatbots, intelligent self-service and solutions that help agents gain a better understanding of what customers are asking for in digital conversations.
This need for conversational platforms is being driven by continually rising customer expectations. Consumers are essentially demanding different types of relationships with brands. They want to move away from old-style ticketing systems where they submitted a question and then waited in a queue for an answer. Instead, they want to have meaningful, real-time conversations with brands that understand their needs and provide the experience that they are looking for.
Embracing conversational platforms now, therefore delivers four key benefits for your CX:
1. Increased satisfaction
At a time of heightened competition and enormous choice, consumers judge every brand by the same, high standards. They want a consistently excellent experience, whatever their channel – and have no problems with complaining to the world on social media if they don’t get what they are looking for. Consequently, being able to provide a more engaging, conversational experience will retain customers and protect your brand.
2. Better understanding
Consumers also expect brands to understand their needs without having to spell them out. That means that traditional survey-based Voice of the Customer programs are unlikely to give a full picture of what customers actually want. By using AI to analyze their conversations, brands can, therefore, get a more detailed idea of their requirements, no matter how many interactions they receive every day. This insight can then be used to drive CX improvements and changes.
3. Empower your agents
Many people have predicted that AI will remove the need for customer service agents. Nothing could be further from the truth. What will change is their role – they will go from spending their time responding to routine queries to take a more proactive, involved role in helping customers. AI will empower them through access to knowledge, templates to share answers more easily and text analytics that improve their understanding of digital conversations.
4. Reduced costs
All organizations are aiming to do more with less, particularly given the rising volumes of consumer queries. AI-based conversational platforms boost efficiency by automating responses to more basic queries, which can be answered automatically through self-service systems, chatbots and email templates. This reduces the load on agents and boosts productivity while keeping satisfaction levels high.
As the Gartner Hype Cycle shows, some AI-based technologies have a long way to go before they deliver results. That’s not the case with AI-powered customer experience solutions – now is the time to adopt them to boost satisfaction, engagement, reputation and bottom-line revenues.