Ensuring customer satisfaction is paramount for any business to be successful, and according to a Gulf News webinar, conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is now helping to revolutionize the customer experience. The webinar, organized in partnership with Uniphore Software Systems, took place on Tuesday 14 June with two experts in the field discussing the benefits and potential of technology to transform businesses.
What exactly is Conversational AI? During the webinar, Anil Kumar, Senior Director, Uniphore, Dubai, explained more about the $350 billion product.
“People ask what exactly Conversational AI is. Is it a chatbot? Is someone talking to a robot? The human conversation has always existed. Slowly the word conversational AI started to creep in. The AI part of it makes it interesting. For the past 30 years we’ve been talking to Interactive Voice Response (IVR). Press one for this and two for that; it can be frustrating. When we start looking at the AI side, every email and conversation with a call center is recorded. You consent when you hear: “Your call is important to us; Your call will be recorded for whatever purpose.’ If this becomes data and this data is analyzed, we can react to it. This becomes the voice of the customer. AI is getting smarter, and having that data makes it smarter.”
The other expert on the panel, Awais Ahmad, Head of Technology, Solexplus, Saudi Arabia, stated: “The number one priority is the customer experience for any industry. The customer is the most important thing. Suppose a lot of calls come in. People get frustrated. Your customers are not satisfied. AI can automatically recognize the customer’s experience, intention and feelings. This great leap is happening right now, which is being used mostly in the call center industry.”
With data feedback to make conversational AI work efficiently, Ahmad said human interaction with AI-based programs is increasing at a tremendous rate. “The revolution came when the smartphone age began. In 2001, SmarterChild, one of AOL’s chatbots, was a turning point in the conversational history revolution. Between 2010 and 2016 there were other tremendous developments in AI. We’ve entered the modern age with Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa. It changed the whole industry. The programs could recognize your feelings and intentions.”
It seems amazing that AI can see these things, but it’s an incredibly smart concept,
Kumar added. “The whole idea was to create a human alternative. Think like a human and respond like a human. But they can also process huge amounts of data. The chatbot experiences we have today are often not the best. Data elements are not used to understand what the customer is saying. A customer can ask the same thing in different ways. When you look at a bank you might have around 250-300 intentions as to why you would call a bank. When you put all of that together, you have answers ready, you can pull up the customer data and go to the bank account.”
While leveraging the data will improve AI responses, language and various dialects are another aspect being worked on. Kumar said that after developing its own Automated Speech Recognition (ASR) engine, Conversational AI has now recognized 110 languages.
With these different language options available, AI can be used almost anywhere and for any business. Ahmad explained: “Where humans talk to each other, this can be replaced by conversational AI. It means a lot of data and a lot of training, but the time will come. It can be used in so many places.”
Finally, another benefit discussed in the webinar was that conversational AI could reduce the burden on the workforce and improve the bottom line.
“Conversational AI lowers customer service costs. It does the job that normal people do. Most importantly, boosting the mental health and morale of employees. You have less workload and you can use them for other work in the company to increase your revenue growth,” Ahmad said.
With more customer interactions going digital than ever before, various AI applications are at work. From banks, airlines and healthcare to supermarkets, AI is all around us and constantly evolving. The expert panelists agreed that the possibilities for conversational AI are limitless.