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Speech has always been an essential part of the customer experience, especially when we need to speak with an agent about a complicated issue or to air a grievance. However, over the last few years, speech has also become a crucial part of customer self-service, allowing us to handle daily requests like paying a bill or changing an account password that we don’t need to speak with another human about.

We can call our bank and ask, “What is my auto loan balance?” or an airline and ask, “What time is my departing flight on [date]?” Through the power of conversational AI, we can interact with an intelligent IVR or virtual assistant and get these answers right away without having to be routed through a lengthy automated phone system. According to a new report by Deepgram and Opus Research, 77% of companies are using this kind of voice technology to identify new business opportunities and 62% are using it to increase revenues.

Here’s why every company should be investing in conversational AI for customer self-service:

It elevates the customer experience by providing value in the moment when it’s needed most.

Many of us regularly use conversational AI through the devices we keep on hand to help process requests when we’re busy or inconvenienced. We ask Siri to text a friend while driving, we ask our Alexa device to play a song while in the shower, and we can “Google” questions without typing by asking Google Assistant on our phone or smart home device. We live in an age of incredible technological innovation that provides value in the moment when it’s needed most. Organizations can offer this value to their customers by allowing them to speak with a virtual assistant, either via voice (like they would using Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant) or chat (i.e., social media messaging, webchat).

It is crucial for delivering a more personalized CX.

Conversational AI can help companies discover in conversation what customers want and provide more valuable, context-based responses. For example, if a patient calls their doctor’s office and says, “I’m looking for the results of my blood work,” the virtual assistant can proactively route them to the right person for the job – say, the nurse manager – or first double-check to see if they have activated their patient portal to avoid manual intervention (saving costs without compromising the patient experience). This is accomplished using Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning (more on this below). The virtual assistant can even conduct sentiment analysis to ensure empathetic conversations, establishing better customer relationships. We all, at some point, have raised our voices at an automated phone system in frustration. Conversational AI provides an added layer of defense against this happening.    

It allows companies to capitalize on innovations in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML)

Investment in NLP and ML has surged, especially during the pandemic as companies work to deliver seamless, contactless service. Each technology is separate but goes hand-in-hand for making conversational AI work. NLP helps analyze, interpret, and understand spoken language. ML gets applications to learn and act like humans do (based on this analysis) with the ability to improve over time, on its own or supervised. It’s crucial that you invest in NLP and ML properly, as these technologies help ensure the accuracy of language analysis.

As with any technology, fine-tuning will be needed as customers engage with your conversational AI solution (when a virtual assistant doesn’t understand a customer’s request, you can track those misunderstood intents to make your conversational interfaces smarter). Many companies find a Managed Services Provider (MSP) crucial for this reason, as the provider comes alongside you, understands what issues your organization is facing, and then works to architect AI solutions that can be managed entirely by them or jointly by them and you.

It provides “always-on” customer service in a cost-effective way

An essential requirement for customer excellence is the ability to be “always on.” In other words, providing trusted assistance 24x7 when and how a customer needs it. Conversational AI is designed for this purpose, helping customers find the answers they need on their own as if they were speaking with a live human.

In this way, a mother with a fussy newborn can call the child’s primary care group at 3 a.m. and be greeted by a virtual assistant who can point her in the direction of online resources for better understanding the infant’s non-life-threatening symptoms. A customer can talk with a chatbot on their bank’s website outside of regular hours to resolve a password reset request after a suspicious activity has been detected. Life gets busy. Conversational AI helps companies deliver quality service at scale at a much lower cost compared to live agents (one study found that AI-powered chatbots saved banks $127M in 2019 alone).

Servion has partnerships with today’s top conversational AI technology providers including AWS, Genesys, Google, NICE, Nuance, Verint, and more to help enterprises improve customer experience and reduce costs. Bring your conversational AI ideas to us and start elevating your self-service strategy.