3 Ways Conversational AI Gives Your Organization A Competitive Advantage

With constantly rising customer expectations around service and support, organizations who aren’t investing in next-generation solutions are falling further and further behind competitors, according to Forrester. Here’s how the latest advances in conversational AI can help improve CSAT without increasing operational costs, plus a look how leading organizations are already seeing success with Google Cloud CCAI.

Contact centers are becoming much more than a humble operational function tucked away out of sight (and mind). They are moving to the strategic heart of the business. In a future heavily shaped by working from home and digital engagement, as well as increased awareness of customer requirements, your contact centers’ strategy will need to support and even help define your customer experience. This won’t be possible without the transformative power of cloud and conversational AI. 

In a nutshell, conversational AI uses artificial intelligence technologies in virtual agents to interact with people in a human-like way. By bridging the gap between human and computer language, it makes communication between the two easier and more natural than ever before. 

According to Forrester, “Providing great CX [customer experience] is a top priority for most organizations, but because contact centers typically operate 24/7, decision-makers are hesitant to make significant changes or upgrades out of fear of breaking their already overtaxed systems. This paradox has left many organizations to rely on outdated or bloated interactive voice response systems far too long. And with constantly rising customer expectations around service and support, these organizations are falling further and further behind competitors that are investing in next-generation solutions.”

Below, we explore three ways conversational AI can give your organization a competitive advantage.

1. High CSAT is good for business

According to PwC, 32% of all customers say they would switch to a competitor after just one bad customer service experience. And nearly half of customers won’t even think about doing business with you unless you have high approval ratings. 

Your customers’ satisfaction affects your potential for new business. But, even worse for your business, customer dissatisfaction and low customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores threaten the relationship you have with your existing customers. That’s why it’s no longer acceptable to keep customers on hold or endlessly route them somewhere else. Or worse, not provide them with the answers they’re looking for. And yet this is exactly what’s happening when we call in to a traditional, phone-tree-based IVR system in most contact centers today. 

Conversational AI, on the other hand, enables more personalized and intuitive customer care. By putting your customers in contact with virtual agents on voice and chat channels, conversational AI makes it easy for customers to rapidly obtain helpful, relevant information from your contact centers. Your customers get answers faster, and your contact center staff—freed from repetitive tasks—can focus on more engaging and complex customer issues. In the event that a call is handed off to a human agent from a virtual agent, nothing is lost in the transfer and people do not have to repeat information again.

All of this ultimately affects your customer satisfaction scores, which reflect the level of service you deliver to your customers. Studies show that mastering the art of customer service allows you to charge more too. According to PwC, 43% of all consumers would pay more for greater convenience, and 42% would pay more for a friendly, welcoming experience.

Overall, better CSAT scores mean: 

  • Repeat purchases from existing customers
  • More new customers 
  • Lower agent attrition 
  • Lower operational costs 
  • A more profitable business

2. Conversational AI allows for a great customer experience without increasing operational costs

Traditional, phone-tree-based IVR systems in most contact centers weren’t built for the cloud age, and have become expensive to maintain and improve. Operational costs are increasing along with longer handling times. 

During these unprecedented times, organizations are investing in best-in-class AI tools to better scale with demand and improve customer service—especially now that there’s a way to do it without increasing costs. In the past, you had to hire more agents to improve CSAT, which increased your operating costs. Conversely, if you reduced the number of agents, your CSAT scores went down. 

Now, cloud-based, conversational AI for contact centers, such as Google Cloud Contact Center AI, lets you have your cake and eat it too. Groundbreaking advances in AI, machine learning, voice recognition, and natural language processing mean that virtual agents can now understand the nuances of human language and, consequently, your customers’ intent. Customers can ask questions rather than interacting with a phone tree, getting answers faster and in more engaging and natural ways. Your contact center staff, freed from repetitive tasks, can focus on more challenging and higher-value interactions, reducing attrition and improving operational efficiency. 

By the numbers: Financial benefits of Google Cloud CCAI

According to an August 2020 study, “New Technology: The Projected Total Economic Impact™ Of Google Cloud Contact Center AI,” which examines the projected return on investment enterprises may realize by deploying CCAI, organizations that deployed Google Cloud CCAI saw reduced costs, improved productivity, and resources redeployed to higher-value roles.

The study, which was commissioned by Google and conducted by Forrester Consulting, interviewed five customers and additional partners with experience using Google Cloud CCAI. To estimate the projected total economic impact of CCAI, Forrester developed a composite organization based on the experiences of the five interviewed companies. The following benefits reflect the financial analysis associated with the composite organization:

  • Call deflection totaling $8.1 million to $14.3 million. 
  • Chat deflection totaling $1.3 million to $2.4 million.
  • Efficiency gains for contact center agents totaling $1.3 million to $3.7 million
  • Management efficiencies totaling $1.1 million to $2.3 million. CCAI eliminated the need to manage and update legacy IVR systems and reduced the amount of time and effort needed to roll out new capabilities or provide services to a new product.
  • Reduced agent churn totaling $447,633 to $1 million.

Related: Learn how businesses saved costs and improved customer experience with Contact Center AI. Get the full Forrester study here.

3. New innovations in conversational AI are finding their way into the enterprise market, enabling more personalized and intuitive customer care

Thanks to advances in speech recognition, AI, neural networks, and processing power, the voice landscape has radically changed. Specifically:

  • Dedicated processing power has facilitated smarter voice recognition algorithms.
  • Voice-enabled consumer devices (smartphones, smart home devices, cars, TVs, and so on) and far-field voice recognition have made voice recognition ubiquitous, providing an ever growing dataset on which to train recognition and voice generation algorithms.
  • AI and ML advances (including BERT, natural language understanding [NLU], automatic speech recognition [Speech-to-Text], Dialogflow, and Text-to-Speech to name a few) have made it possible to not just recognize language but to deduce context and build relationships, improving the quality of the experience. It’s the first time we’ve had a conversational experience that isn’t frustrating and is considered to be nearly human.
  • Fast, cheap, and reliable high-speed networks have made it possible to offload processing to the cloud, enabling rapid “understanding” of peoples’ intents.

Leading organizations are already seeing success with automated conversational AI solutions. British multinational retailer Marks & Spencer reduced store call volume by 50% by routing more than 7 million calls through Dialogflow. Verizon is using CCAI to deliver more intuitive customer support through natural-language recognition, faster processing, and real-time customer service agent assistance. And as the economic impact of COVID-19 reverberated across Illinois, the Illinois Department of Employment Services (IDES) deployed Contact Center AI virtual agents to answer 3.2 million inquiries in its first two weeks, helping IDES pay unemployment benefits in a timely manner to 99.99% of claimants.

With these advances, it’s easy to see why demand for this kind of technology is on the rise: The global conversational AI market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of almost 22% between 2020 and 2025, according to MarketsandMarkets. Gartner also predicts that “by 2022, 70% of customer interactions will involve emerging technologies such as machine learning (ML) applications, chatbots and mobile messaging, up from 15% in 2018.”

Anyone can build a virtual agent, but delivering natural language understanding is a whole new ball game. Bringing conversational AI to the customer experience gives organizations a competitive advantage, and opens up new opportunities to deliver value to customers, employees, and business partners.

Keep learning: Get the free guide, “How conversational AI is changing the game in customer service.”

Below: See how Verizon is helping customers quickly find the answers to their questions while enabling agents to better assist with customer requests.