Chatbots and voicebots had a bumpy childhood. From finding their feet in the online world, being accepted by organisations as effective digital tools, overcoming learning challenges and limited processing power, all these challenges were overcome.

Their adolescent years were spent gaining greater intelligence, acquiring industry specific understanding, and taking advantage of improved processing power to enable conversational AI solutions to fully integrate structured and unstructured data from internal and external sources.

Chatbots and voicebots are now at an age of maturity. They are capable and competent grown-ups. It is only natural that maturity carries with it certain expectations regarding the interaction experience. However, not all chatbots and voicebots demonstrate the level of adult maturity that is expected in terms of what, why, how and when they engage with customers.

Every day customers are using technology in their work, during leisure and to organise their lives. If a brand is not using technology that makes interacting easy, fast and enjoyable, and importantly enables them to have their needs and expectations met, they will ultimately find a brand that can and will.

Customer shift: Impatience to intolerance

Not too long ago, customers were impatient. Yes, impatience led to frustration and often to anger. But they ‘put up’ with bad service and had limited recourse, because there was little to no alternative.

Today, customers no longer ‘put up’ with bad service. There is an abundance of choice, and with alternatives on offer customers are now intolerant. They no longer endure bad brand experiences, and simply shift their custom to another brand. Customers have the power to ‘discard’ a brand in a single click. This has huge financial and reputational implications for brands.

Chatbots and voicebots must have a high level of intelligence, a deep understanding of the customer they are interacting with, reflect the personality and values of the brand they represent, take account of cultural sensitivities, speak in the customer’s preferred language, only share accurate, verified information, and be honest and transparent.

Conversational AI shift: Information to Intelligence

Conversational AI is the underlying technology powering the intelligent chatbots an dvoicebots that are helping brands deliver on their strategic priorities of delivering better customer and employee experiences, increasing revenue and decreasing costs.

Customer and employee interactions with chatbots and voicebots have shifted from a relative basic level of mass engagement, to highly advanced personalised one on one engagement.

Word understandingHuman understanding
Limited comprehensionContextual, sentiment, and meaning comprehension
Answer questionsHave a conversation
Pre-scripted answersFree flowing answers
Linguistically stiltedLinguistically natural
Replacing a humanPathway to a human

Service expectation shifts: From “what is provided” to “what I want”

The rise of the intolerant customer has forced organisations that value revenue, profit and reputation to put their customers at the front of their experience strategies, with everything directed to delivering on their needs and expectations.

Conversational AI solutions are critical to enabling organisations to transform and be relevant and prosperous in a world where power has moved from being with a brand into the hands of the consumer.  What was once the de facto service standard is now obsolete and intolerable to the modern consumer.

Defined hoursAny hour
Limited applications – voice, emailApplication of choice – voice, email, social platforms
Request changeSelf service
Process drivenResolution driven
On holdNo hold
Find informationInformation delivered
Organisation firstCustomer first

Grown up chatbots for the grown-up organisation

The rapid advances in AI over the past few years have led to highly advanced chatbots and voicebots that are able to perform tasks at speeds that are humanly impossible. They are now equipped with the skill to embrace emotional context and respond appropriately, able to self-recognise and admit their limitation and/or knowledge gap, and can adapt real-time and have an appropriate conversation, for the ‘channel/platform/application’ of the customer’s choosing.

In the real world of humans there is often talk of whether people are a product of nature or nurture. In the world of conversational AI, chatbots and voicebots are a product of both nature and nurture.

Any organisation that uses or wants to use a chatbot and voicebot as part of their digital toolkit to create better experiences, should ensure that their due diligence on conversational AI service providers, includes an interrogation of the provider’s credentials and the maturity of the chatbots that they will build and deploy. 

In the same light the capabilities, ease of use and accessibility of the conversational AI platform to be used will greatly influence both the DNA of the intelligent virtual assistant, as well as its ongoing value to a brand.

Brands should also ensure that they conduct a deep dive into a service provider’s capabilities, experience and expertise in knowledge and content management and workflows. In addition, how a provider brings together conversational and generative AI, as well as offering them individually, so there can be a guarantee of accuracy, honesty and transparency in chatbot to customer conversations, must also be a consideration.

Knowledge is critical to a chatbot or voicebot providing constant ongoing value to an organisation and its customers. Accurate, relevant, up to date, personalised information is the foundation for creating brand trust. Where there is brand trust there is brand loyalty. And where there is brand loyalty there is a profitable and sustainable business.