Conversational UI Primer for Business Leaders: A Framework for Deploying Your First Conversational UI in 2019
Is your company ready to take customer interaction to the next level? All signs point to positive customer experience (CX) as the driving force behind customer acquisition and reduction of churn. So, how will your business keep up with ever-increasing demands from consumers for real-time responses and satisfaction?
A 2017 report from CMO Council titled “The Customer in Context” surveyed more than 2,000 consumers and found that brand loyalty actually ranks lower than CX when it comes to purchasing decisions. Nearly 50 percent of customers will turn elsewhere if they continually experience poor, impersonal, or frustrating experiences.
More and more brands are turning to social media to deploy chatbots to handle customer queries and complaints – but being reactive is only one piece of the puzzle. Conversational UIs can be proactive, leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to drive consumer engagement.
AI Driven, Voice Based Conversational UIs are the Future
According to Gartner, by 2020 at least 25 percent of all customer service and support operations will have integrated virtual assistants or chatbot technology, and 30 percent of all B2B companies will be augmenting at least one of their primary sales processes using AI.
Improved CX is at the top of the ‘must-have’ list for the majority of CEOs, CMOs, and CIOs
Voice is currently the top driver in the innovation surrounding UX and CX, and the potential has barely been tapped. Intelligent interfaces grabbing the largest market share are voice activated technologies, such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri® voice recognition software, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
According to Deloitte, natural language processing (NLP) is a massive part of conversational UI, and the competition between tech giants to dominate the voice systems space is helping to standardize NLP and AI for conversational UI implementation.
Choosing a Conversational UI
The type of conversational UI selected for your organization should be chosen based on what type of user will be interacting with the interface, and what form those interactions are most likely to take.
- Consumer Interaction: If consumers typically reach out to your company with a question, a simple Q/A conversational UI with the ability to receive multiple segments of input and ask its own questions to clarify may be appropriate. If consumers are seeking to perform an action such as book a flight, change a reservation, or buy tickets for a concert, a conversational UI capable of delivering on these requests is required.
- Customer Interaction: After a consumer is converted to a customer, a different set of needs arise, a conversational UI may require the ability to discern an issue, provide various avenues for resolving it, and either deliver a solution or kick the complaint up the chain to a human for resolution. A surprising number of customer support queries can be handled via a conversational UI or even a simple chatbot.
- Employee Interaction: Conversational UIs can also be used internally to streamline employee based processes. Deployment of notification-based conversational AIs on an internal level has been successful for HR processes (prompting a new employee through the onboarding process). IT departments can also benefit from conversational UI by combining alerts about password change requirements with the ability to generate a new password, integrating it into the system instantly. (Password reset requests account for a large amount of IT related help desk inquiries; automating these requests can cut such calls by up to 40%.)
Whether your business is B2B or B2C will also affect what type of conversational UI is appropriate. Consumer-facing UIs require higher levels of NLP to feel more “human,” must be able to contextually “figure out” what a consumer is asking, and will need to provide an experience that delivers compassion as well as solutions.
Business facing interactions are less fraught. While the need for a quality experience is still a top priority, the UI can be more professional in tone and streamlined to accommodate the knowledge of the person using it.
Deployment of your Conversational UI
How, when, and where you deploy your new conversational UI will depend on your target audience and where they are most likely to look for help.
- Web-Based: If your website is the main point of interaction, a conversational UI that pops up to offer help may be the most effective way to reach your customer base.
- Social Media: If your company has a large following on Twitter, and customers are beginning to direct customer service queries and complaints through that platform, developing and deploying a Twitter-based chatbot can provide instant gratification for users while minimizing issues.
- Messaging Platforms: Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp dominate the global messaging landscape, and AI driven chatbots are becoming the go-to resource for consumers looking for quick answers.
If possible, deploy your conversational UI on multiple platforms, and maximize personalized interaction – particularly for repeat interactions. The “State of Messaging 2019” report from Smooch notes that 60 percent of customers will reach out on more than one channel or switch channels within a single inquiry, and 91 percent say they are more likely to buy from – and stay with – brands that “remember” them.
The first conversational UI you launch for your business likely won’t be the last. As AI acquires expanded predictive abilities and data analysis reaches new heights, the conversational UIs of tomorrow will be as different from today’s as the mobile phone is to the once mighty telegraph. Investing in improved CX via conversational UI is the next step towards increases in ROI and reductions in customer churn.