If you’ve paid a bill or made a purchase online in the past few years, you have likely noticed an increase in the number of chatbot popup windows that are available to interact with now. Unlike typing elementary phrase into Google, voice assistants like Siri or Alexa provide a more conversational interaction style. You can hold a relatively “normal” conversation with these AI bots, and they can help you perform a wide range of tasks.
AI voice has been consistently gaining popularity over the past few years, and the global pandemic only accelerated its adoption. Consumers are quickly becoming comfortable with the idea of interacting with intelligent bots. From a simple weather query to finding and booking vacation accommodations. One Statista survey predicts that the global chatbot market will reach about 1.25 billion by 2025.
Chatbots and virtual assistants are becoming more popular in the workplace as well. Gartner estimates that by 2022, at least 70 percent of white-collar workers will have daily interactions with this type of AI technology. There is already a massive amount of potential for voice assistants and chatbots to improve general business operations. So it is likely that companies will want to leverage conversational AI for as many applications as possible.
Chatbots are rapidly becoming more complex. There is no question that conversational AI will be an integral part of your future business strategy. For many companies, conversational AI technology is already an important factor for internal and customer-facing processes. The evolution of chatbots from simple novelties to useful assistants has happened relatively quickly. This means that businesses still have time to include AI voices into their everyday practices. However, with the rapid trajectory of chatbot evolution, it is important for companies to get on board with this trend.
Almost everyone has interacted with a chatbot at some point in their lives. The earliest chatbots appeared at the end of the last century and contained elementary scripts with predictable answers to simple questions. Some were used in a business capacity. But many more were simply novelties that users could exchange instant messages with.
During the development of AI, more sophisticated chatbots began to appear. This new generation of chatbots began to learn on their own based on the dialogues they conducted with the user. Due to the small amount of data available, that could be used to train the bot. However, they were not widespread. Over the past decade or so, chatbots have been able to gain real traction thanks to the vast amounts of data and user cases now available. Conversational AI programs are now able to more quickly train their algorithms. In order to be much more accurate and have a smoother, more in-depth style of interaction.
Today, AI bots are quickly becoming the standard for both business and personal use. AI voice has made an exciting evolutionary leap and can now handle more natural conversations with ease.
For example, if you were to ask a bot from a decade ago, “Where do I enter information about my card?” it would get confused. Because those more primitive bots needed specific keywords like “payment “or “credit card” to provide a useful answer. Today’s conversational AI will most likely understand that you are attempting to enter billing information. And will point you in the right direction.
Conversational AI applications utilize machine learning algorithms that help them understand user intention. They are consistently refining and improving their systems to mimic human interactions better. In the future, we can expect AI voice to be a part of nearly all business processes. For now, departments like HR, marketing, customer service, and IT are seeing the most noticeable benefits from adopting chatbots.
Human resources departments have begun to integrate chatbots and AI voices into hiring and recruitment processes. This is still a new field, but it has great potential for helping HR staff be more productive. As it develops further, it has potential to save a considerable amount of human workload. Right now, however, the technology isn’t perfect quite yet. So it still needs skilled human workers to ensure the processes run smoothly.
As an example, consider a company that wants to use AI to help recruit new developers who specialize in coding with Python. If you simply tell it to “find three Python developers,” it can’t accurately parse which candidates are suitable and which aren’t. It might return people who are still in school (not useful). Or people with unrelated skills that have “coding” in their bios (also not useful). This wastes the recruiter’s time. Because it ultimately would have been more efficient for a human to take the time to sort through applications manually.
The same AI might skip over an excellent candidate because “people from this town don’t usually have IT experience”. Or because it deems a person too old or young. The problem here is that the automation process is not yet sophisticated enough to be able to handle nuanced searches. So it still requires extensive human involvement.
For now, AI is most useful when HR departments use it as a part of the process rather than trying to use it to cover the entire process. One HR company has done this by using AI to rank candidates in the recruiting process without eliminating any. This helps the human team more efficiently sort through who to contact first. In this case, the AI is more like an assistant than a final decision-maker, and this works much better.
It is common for customer service reps to spend up to 90 percent of their time answering repetitive queries from customers. It’s also common for people to expect immediate or near-immediate responses from companies. Which can place a strain on their available resources. A recent poll showed that 16 percent of people expect an immediate response when emailing companies. However, the average time for a company response via email is 8 hours, and responses through platforms like Facebook take well over 24 hours.
The expectation versus reality problem is one that businesses need to address sooner rather than later. Especially since digital interactions are such a critical part of a brand’s reputation now.
Conversational AI as a part of the customer service experience. It allows businesses to offer a more comprehensive and timely turnaround for resolving issues. It also reduces the burden of answering repetitive questions. So that your human staff can focus on handling more complex or involved customer service inquiries. Because chatbots don’t need rest, they can also be deployed to help customers resolve issues during times when your human staff is unavailable. Such as late nights, weekends or holidays.
Manufacturing companies are also learning the value of integrating conversational AI into their daily processes. Chatbots are being successfully deployed to streamline functions such as inventory tracking, routine maintenance assessments, and improved quality control.
For example. While managers can search a database to track purchase orders and inventory status, this is a massively time-consuming effort in all but the smallest businesses. Chatbots can help save time by allowing managers to quickly and easily access inventory information. This also has a substantial impact on the bottom line because it reduces workload for staff and prevents overstocking.
Manufacturing problems can slow or completely halt a day’s production. While most companies have extensive monitoring systems in place, these systems typically still require a significant time investment to work correctly. Chatbots can provide a simple, centralized platform to access this data, decreasing bottlenecks and improving reaction times.
Handling IT issues in a company of any size can be a heavy burden for human agents. Especially if they are tasked with internal and public-facing inquiries.
Integrating chatbots into your IT department helps to improve many processes. Staff members in other departments can now have minor problems resolved without needing a human agent to walk them through routine steps. Customers can work with a chatbot to eliminate the most basic issues. Before escalating to a human agent to resolve more complicated issues.
Additionally, implementing 24/7 chatbot availability is a smart customer service move from an IT standpoint. Customers may experience issues during a time when human teams are unavailable. So having the option to work with a chatbot to resolve their problems can be helpful. Especialy when it comes to making a positive impression on customers. Even if the bot cannot resolve the issue, the customer has simplified the follow-up agent’s job. Customers also feel better taken care of in most cases, even when the problem isn’t fully resolved.
In almost every business sector, consumers are beginning to expect conversational AI and AI voices as a part of the overall brand experience. How customers interact with your chatbots will depend on your industry. But the overall demand for a more personalized and interactive marketing experience is making chatbots more valuable than ever.
Chatbot agency CEO Mary Kathryn Johnson noted that many of her clients saw successful conversions by utilizing conversational AI quizzes to attract page traffic. And she also said that combining technologies such as chatbots and mobile wallets presented unique opportunities for brands to find creative ways to serve customers.
It’s also important to remember that the global pandemic has shifted how consumers interact with brands. Because they were forced into a more digital-heavy space during COVID-19 lockdowns. This is now the “new normal.” For most people, digital and text-based interactions are now the preferred method of business interaction. In fact, 67 percent of millennials say they are more likely to purchase products and services from brands using a chatbot.
Instead of trying to entice consumers back to the face-to-face or brick-and-mortar model, companies should focus on embracing the shift. And becoming the best at providing the experience customers are now looking for.
Chatbots are an excellent tool to foster cross-channel engagement and drive traffic from all forms of social media. Many companies still rely on “canned” responses for email and social media direct messages. So adding an intelligent, conversational bot instead can give your brand a significant competitive advantage.
Moving forward. There is no question that conversational AI and synthetic voices will only become more wholly integrated into our everyday lives. Digital commerce and text-based interactions will continue to be the standard, preferred consumer engagement methods. So it’s worth the time and money investment for brands to get a head start on integrating chatbots into their internal and customer-facing processes.
AI voice will continue to expand and evolve over time. It has immense learning capabilities, and as it gains access to more data in the future. It will be able to more quickly and efficiently refine its learning algorithms. To get better at tasks that we currently still need humans for. In the future, we can expect conversational AI to be able to handle more advanced hiring and recruiting tasks. Or more complex customer service problems.
From streamlining hiring to improving conversion rates and retention numbers, conversational AI is changing the face of business for the better. Businesses should start looking for ways to integrate conversational AI into more of their daily operations. So that they don’t get left behind when the trend really starts to take off.
As AI voice continues to develop, it is probable that it will one day become advanced enough to be able to handle the recruiting and hiring processes largely on its own. And this will further free up human workers to focus on more specific or complex tasks. The faster that brands can successfully adopt AI voice, the better their chances of long-term growth and expansion will be.
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