Conversational AI drives customer satisfaction by offering the familiar elements of chatbots, enhanced by intelligent automation capabilities.
Most people agree that speaking to a basic chatbot is frustrating – we pull up a chat, ask a question or make a request, and then promptly get sent on a wild goose chase of generic website links, unhelpful buttons and “I don’t understand your question” responses. As a result, many people are quick to say they hate speaking with virtual agents and would prefer to wait in endless customer service queues, as long as they eventually receive help from a human.
But is it really that we dislike conversing with virtual agents? Or is it that we are constantly disappointed when chatbots fall short of our expectations? At Amelia, we’ve written extensively on how the entire raison d’être for digital customer service and virtual agents is to provide seamless, immediate and end-to-end resolutions. There is no doubt that basic chatbots fail to measure up to this expectation.
Conversational AI technology, however, creates extraordinary customer experiences that live up to the true promise of virtual agents. To be clear, Conversational AI agents are not chatbots. They do, however, offer the familiar elements of chatbots that we like – such as real-time support at our fingertips – but with the necessary cognitive intelligence and back-end automation that leaves us feeling understood and satisfied, instead of disappointed and confused. This critical difference is the reason why Conversational AI agents add value to organisations’ customer experience operations, while chatbots often diminish overall customer satisfaction.
Companies across all industries are investing in AI, yet many are still slow to adopt due to pervasive, and often inaccurate, misgivings about virtual agents. To ensure no organisation gets left behind as the world surges towards digital customer service, we will explore how, despite possessing similar customer-facing qualities as chatbots, Conversational AI virtual agents are far more sophisticated and drive greater business value.
Conversational AI Speaks Our Language
Conversations with both types of virtual agents often begin the same. In most cases, customers simply need to open a chat window on a company’s website or mobile application to start a conversation. From there, however, it immediately becomes clear when a customer is speaking to a chatbot.
Chatbots follow scripts and fail to respond to questions that fall outside their pre-determined chat flows. Chatbots also struggle with conversational variations, such as jargon, slang and acronyms, which ultimately forces customers to speak in a manner that is unnatural and robotic. These restrictive interactions tend to get on customers’ nerves, with their fingers hovering over the keyboard to type “representative” or to abandon the conversation altogether.
Unlike chatbots, Conversational AI virtual agents conduct dynamic conversations with customers in natural language. Conversational AI virtual agents leverage natural language processing to understand context, multi-intent requests and conversational variations, allowing the virtual agent to provide appropriate and helpful responses, and creating a frictionless experience for the customer.
Conversational AI Responds with Action
When customers speak to a virtual agent, the purpose is rarely (if ever) for companionship or general conversation. More often than not, people want immediate help with questions, concerns and requests. Chatbots take customers partway through to a resolution, as they are not equipped with the necessary integration capabilities to act on customers’ behalf. For instance, if a customer needed help with returning a product, a chatbot would likely send the customer a link to the company’s return policy page. The customer would then be on their own to confirm their return eligibility and manually complete the process.
If the customer were to make the same request of a Conversational AI agent, the interaction would be personalised, quick and complete. After verifying the customers’ identity, the Conversational AI agent would leverage its integration with back-end systems to pull the customer’s purchase history, confirm the item for return and create the return label on the customer’s behalf, offloading several manual steps from the customer.
Conversational AI Seamlessly Escalates and Continuously Learns
Sometimes, customers will want to speak with a human for assistance and will expect a seamless escalation of their conversation. Failure to deliver on this capability can have disastrous ramifications on customer loyalty, as survey results found that 60% of consumers were unlikely to remain a customer following an interaction with a company chatbot that failed to resolve their request and didn’t transfer to a human agent.
Basic chatbots often disappoint customers with their inability to transfer to human agents. If a customer requires assistance outside of regular business hours and wishes to escalate to a human, a chatbot will simply inform the customer that no agents are available. Chatbots will escalate conversations if human agents are available, but due to their limited integrations, this hand-off typically requires customers to repeat themselves, resulting in an experience that is neither seamless nor satisfactory.
Conversational AI agents, however, are far more supportive. If a customer requires assistance from a human agent outside of business hours, the Conversational AI will create a ticket with all the necessary information and send it to a human agent for follow-up, so that customers don’t feel abandoned. During business hours, Conversational AI platforms such as the market-leading product from Amelia will seamlessly escalate entire conversations to human colleagues for resolution, while continuing to provide support as a whisper agent throughout the remainder of the interaction. Amelia Conversational AI also learns from every escalation, allowing the platform to resolve future requests on its own.
The virtual agent market is more sophisticated than ever before. This latest generation of virtual agents continues to exceed customers’ expectations and deliver tremendous value for today’s businesses. Don’t let the fear of chatbots keep you from automating – the time is right to deploy Conversational AI for customer care.