Tag Archive for: conversational ai

Multi-Lingual Digital Customer Service is Easier Than Ever

By Maria Ward, Account Manager & Knowledgebase Engineer

Good day – Guten tag – Buenos días – Bonne journée – Goededag – Buona giornata – There are more than 7,000 known languages spoken in the world today. So, it’s no surprise that language is a common barrier in both personal and business interactions.

Back in 2014, the International Customer Management Institute (ICMI) published a report titled The Growing Need for Multilanguage Customer Support. Their survey of customer service leaders found that 72% said support in a customer’s native language increased their satisfaction with customer support and 58% said it increased loyalty to the brand. Over half acknowledged that offering support in a customer’s native language was a competitive differentiator.

This research is old now, but the desire of customers to have native language support is still very much there. Luckily for businesses, new technologies are making it easier for them to offer multilingual customer service on digital channels than it was in 2014.

One of these technologies is machine translation which has seen huge improvement in recent years. Developments over the past two years have greatly increased the accuracy and reliability of many translation engine applications. This has opened up new possibilities for delivering multilingual customer self-service.

For example, this year I’ve been working on several conversational AI projects with businesses taking advantage of machine translation to provide customer service in multiple languages. One is with an organisation that has used V-Person technology since 2016 on their UK website. They are an international company and became interested in exploring ways they could leverage their successful English-speaking virtual agent in other countries.

Using an automatic translation engine is a great solution for them because it is cheaper, simpler, and easier than creating a whole new virtual agent in a second language. It lets them build on the years of investment they had already made in their English-speaking virtual agent. Now they are using that same knowledgebase to provide self-service on their German website by adding translated versions of their virtual agent answers and integrating with a translation engine.

Here’s how it works: The customer enters their question in German in the virtual agent. A translation engine is utilised to translate that input into English. The translated input is then matched in the knowledgebase to the correct piece of content. The virtual agent selects the German version of the response from the knowledgebase and presents that answer to the customer.

The company started the project by identifying the top FAQs for their German website. They then provided German translations for those pieces of content. The team also worked on making any modifications to the natural language processing (NLP) to accommodate for differences in how a German user might ask those questions or ‘weird’ automatic translations that may be returned by the engine. After a successful launch of the German-speaking virtual agent, work got underway to slowly expand the content.

Another project I’ve been working on recently is for a brand-new virtual agent. One of the reasons Creative Virtual was selected as their conversational AI provider is our ability to integrate with translation engines and manage multiple languages within one knowledgebase. This company is starting their project with seven languages.

The process for this multi-lingual virtual agent has been a little different than my first example because there was no existing knowledgebase at the start. My recommendation for any organisation looking to build a new virtual agent in multiple languages is to start by finalising all content in the main language first. This will save you time with the translation work because changes to an answer typically means having to make updates to that answer across all languages.

Using automatic translation to expand a virtual agent to multiple languages is cost-effective and saves time, but it’s not a perfect solution. You’re likely to encounter content clashes and inputs that aren’t matched with your existing content. This is why you need a virtual agent management platform that has the right functionality to specifically support integration with a translation engine. The projects I’ve been working on are successful because of our V-Portal™ platform.

The right conversational AI platform will support workarounds for the content clashes and customisations for your different languages. It should also use artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide relevant ‘did you mean’ suggestions to users when their input doesn’t match with a specific piece of content. You also have the ability to set the virtual agent to ‘auto-select’ answers. This means that if the NLP fails to match the input directly with the correct answer, it pushes one of the ‘did you mean’ answers automatically as long as that answer meets a specified confidence level.

Maintenance of your multi-lingual virtual agent is also easier when you have a highly functional management platform integrated with a translation engine. When you need to make updates to an answer, you can do that quickly across all languages since all answers are listed under the same intent in the knowledgebase. Also, any changes you make to the NLP in your main language benefits all languages. And as machine translation engines improve, you automatically benefit from the most recent developments without having to do any work on your virtual agent.

The quality of your customer service affects customer loyalty, repeat business, and your brand reputation. Offering native language support can really improve your support experience. Technologies like automatic machine translation are making it easier than ever to give customers multi-lingual customer service options. Contact the experts at Creative Virtual to learn more about how we’re helping companies deliver these solutions.

Are All Members of Your Conversational AI Team Equal?

By Laura Ludmany, Knowledgebase Engineer

There is a question I came across recently which made me think and raises a good discussion for Customer Service Week: Who is the most important participant in the workflow of the development and maintenance of any AI-powered customer service tool?

Let’s imagine we build a virtual assistant from scratch for a large enterprise client where the solution must be scalable, available across multiple channels, and delivering measurable results. There are many out-of-the-box, seemingly quick solutions on the market which catch attention with claims of being up and running with little time and effort. However, these deployments are not often expandable or manageable as the real-life interaction traffic increases. These chatbots often cannot mature at the same pace as the usage, leaving a bitter taste in the users’ mouths and doing more harm than good for the organisation.

To deploy a chatbot just for the sake of having a chatbot, to tick one cool gadget off the list, to appear to be keeping up with the technology trends – none of these are good goals for a conversational AI project. The goal should be a long term one: to leverage the virtual assistant to its full capabilities; to discover new integrations, features, channels and start using it in a proactive way; to listen to your customers’ needs and feedback gathered in conversations; to broadcast news and promote products, offers, and sales to users in a centralised, accessible way.

Building and managing a virtual assistant with the goals described above, requires more people than a reader from outside the industry would probably imagine:

  • We need a salesperson to introduce the technology to the client and translate their business requirements into virtual assistant project specs.
  • We need a project manager who keeps the momentum going between the client and the team, organises the resources, streamlines the workflows, oversees the processes, and really just holds everything together.
  • We need a knowledgebase/AI engineer who designs the user journeys, builds and updates the database of the chatbot, and manages the algorithm that matches the submitted questions with the intent.
  • We need ‘hard techies’, the software engineers and developers who build the user interface, work on the different integrations, design the templates, and ultimately deploy the virtual assistant.
  • We need an analyst to look after the reporting side of the tool, understand the client’s KPIs, implement those indicators to the reporting platforms, and then deliver the required insights and statistics to the desired reporting suites.

Depending on the size and nature of the project, there can be multiple people sharing the same sets of tasks and many times there can be even more experts involved in a launch of a single chatbot.

So, then the question is: Who is the most important part in this workflow? The sales lead as he ‘brings’ the business in and has to pitch the future client? The project manager who deals with both sides and oversees everything? The AI engineers who build and maintain the ‘brain’ of the virtual assistant? The software developers who bring the chatbot to reality by building the user interface? The analytics experts who provide the reports which show the performance and measurable results of the tool?

Hint: there is no right or wrong answer. Everyone has different views and valid arguments about it. We might say very diplomatically that each and every person has equal importance in the process.

I think, based on my experience, the most important participant in a chatbot project is the client. As the conversational AI vendor, we might have the latest integrations, the coolest features on the template and the best performing chatbots ever, but our client needs to be heavily involved in the continuous journey of a conversational AI tool for real success.

There is no sadder thing for us as chatbot professionals, than to build a majestic AI tool which is then no longer looked after as it is supposed to be. There will always be new user trends evolving, new unrecognised user questions to be addressed, and new technology updates becoming available.

Hence each point of contact has a crucial role to play to win the ‘heart’ of the client, to prove and promote the value of the chatbot, to raise interest, show enthusiasm and engage with the stakeholders. Everyone in the team needs to be proactive and showcase the capabilities of the virtual assistant, whether that be through post-sales add-on integrations and launches, regular touch base meetings, analysing and improving user journeys, flagging content gaps, showing the latest technology solutions, or sharing new reporting features. We have to pass on the passion we share within our team to the client who is just starting to discover the endless possibilities and advantages conversational AI has to offer.

So, from my point of view, making the client interested, invested and an advocate for their chatbot will ultimately make them the most important participant in the chatbot workflow. As we celebrate Customer Service Week, we should recognise their crucial role. At Creative Virtual, we celebrate all our clients who are so devoted to keeping their virtual assistants successful and with whom we work hand-in-hand, day-to-day with over years and even decades.

Showing Love for Customer Service Week

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

Happy Customer Service Week! Observed every year during the first full week of October, Customer Service Week is an international celebration of the importance of customer service and of the people who serve and support customers on a daily basis.

Delivering service and support that customers love doesn’t happen by chance. Companies known for their positive customer service have a strategy that encompasses the whole organisation. They support their employees and contact centre agents with the right tools. They are available to their customers on the channels they prefer. They regularly review feedback from both customers and employees and take action to improve. They are agile and adapt to changes with a customer-centric approach.

This week we are showing love for the efforts of everyone involved with delivering customer service – employees helping customers face-to-face in brick-and-mortar locations; contact centre agents delivering support over the phone, live chat, and social media; team members working behind the scenes to build and maintain customer service tools.

It’s become tradition at Creative Virtual to start Customer Service Week with our annual blog post roundup. This will be the seventh year I’ve combed through the previous 12 months of posts on our blog to put this together. It’s always a challenge to decide which posts to include, but my goal is to select ones on a variety of customer service topics that deliver expert insights, actionable tips, and/or thought-provoking questions.

And so, without further ado, here are some of the best customer service posts shared on the Creative Virtual Blog over the past year:

  • Solving Common Conversational AI Project Issues – Conversational AI is widely recognised as an important technology in digital customer service and employee support strategies. However, some organisations are struggling with a chatbot that’s not performing as expected, can’t be scaled as their business grows, or doesn’t properly reflect their brand. It’s possible to get these projects back on track without abandoning the investment.
  • The Generic ‘Chat Now’: Virtual Agent or Live Chat? – Customers are more comfortable with and increasingly seeking out digital self-service options. However, if those tools are easily accessible or clearly identified as the place to self-serve (without having to engage with a human) then both customers and businesses are missing out on their benefit.
  • Gen Z and your Customer Self-Service – If you aren’t planning for the expectations of younger customers as they gain more buying power over the next few years, you are missing out on a prime opportunity to put your customer service efforts on the path to future success. Younger generations not only prefer self-service options but are also coming to expect intuitive self-service.
  • Take Your Customer Support from ‘Talking At’ to ‘Listening To’ – Good customer service means listening to your customers and creating a dialogue, not just talking at them. It also means using what you learn from customers to constantly improve. This requires courage – customers will speak their mind! – and the will to act.
  • Can Conversational AI Make Your CX More Human and Empathetic? – No matter how advanced and integrated a self-service tool may be, some support issues are best handled by a real person. However, as companies work to increase customer empathy and provide better service for vulnerable customers, they are finding that supporting their employees and contact centre agents with specially designed conversational AI solutions can actually make engagements with customers more human and empathic.
  • Contact Centres are Crying Out for Help – Contact centres and contact centre agents are under immense pressure, dealing with increased contact volumes, rising customer frustration, and agent attrition. While technology won’t solve all the issues facing the contact centre industry, the right solutions will go a long way in alleviating some of the stress being placed on agents.
  • Conversational AI and the Employee Experience – Your customer experience starts with your employee experience. Employees that feel supported and have the proper tools to do their jobs are going to be happier and more engaged. In turn, that means better products, services, and support for your customers.
  • Building a Cohesive Virtual Agent and Live Chat Solution – Once rival solutions, virtual agents and live chat are now seen as complementary tools for customer service. Organisations are having discussions about how to incorporate both into their digital customer support strategies. The tips in this post address adding a virtual agent to an existing live chat deployment, adding live chat to an existing virtual agent deployment, and adding both solutions or changing providers.
  • Not All Chatbots are Conversational AI Solutions – There are many names often used interchangeably in the industry, but what makes a virtual agent or chatbot a true conversational AI solution? How the technology is using artificial intelligence both in the development stage and for ongoing maintenance is important. However, don’t overlook the need for integration and personalisation, too.
  • Composable CX: Becoming Agile and Flexible – Over the past two years, composability has become a key discussion point for many organisations looking to take a more agile approach to their customer service. Composable CX is about being able to create and deploy solutions quickly but doing so in a way that responds to customer needs in a thoughtful and empathetic way.

The Creative Virtual team is once again marking this week with our annual Customer Service Week Blog Celebration – a series of posts written by expert members of our team on the present and future of customer service. Subscribe to our Blog to get them all delivered right to your Inbox and find them all listed here as each is published.

Innovation Excellence in Conversational AI

By Chris Ezekiel, Founder & CEO

Conversational AI is a very hot and in-demand technology right now. This is not surprising given the pressures on organisations to improve digital experience and provide smarter automation. It’s also not surprising that this demand has led to a very crowded field of competing vendors, from big companies down to small, new start-ups.

An over-crowded and highly competitive marketplace brings both positives and negatives for buyers. While having options can be nice, evaluating so many choices makes it more time consuming and difficult to select the best vendor for you. Competing vendors can drive innovation, but those innovations don’t necessarily mean better solutions and real business benefits. It can be hugely helpful for buyers to have knowledgeable insights from independent industry experts.

This is why AIxOutlook, a part of Sceptertech Digital, are conducting their Best Practice Research. Their uniquely designed evaluation process benchmarks vendors’ performance against competitors to identify industry leaders. They award their Innovation Excellence Leadership recognition to companies committed to innovation and offering the next generation of products and services.

Creative Virtual is proud to be named the Innovation Excellence Leader in the 2022 Conversational Intelligence report! Prasobh Namboothiri, Associate Editor at AIxOutlook says:

“Creative Virtual is the clear Innovation Excellence Leader in a crowded and competitive conversational AI industry. Businesses collaborating with them benefit from their cutting-edge technology as well as their expert consultation, resulting in customised, integrated, and personalised solutions that deliver real business value.”

Conversational AI Innovation Excellence

AIxOutlook’s evaluation focuses on both innovation and customer impact and finds Creative Virtual to be the leading conversational AI innovator driving the industry forward with our V-Person™ technology. They call out V-Person’s flexible integration options that enable organisations to develop customised solutions for delivery of unified, personalised experiences.

Another vital differentiator identified in the report is our approach to AI and the training of our chatbots and virtual agents. The analysts praise our blending of machine learning and a rules-based approach to natural language processing (NLP) and refer to our conversational AI management platform, V-Portal™, as cutting-edge.

Check out the 2022 Innovation Excellence Leadership in Conversational Intelligence report for AIxOutlook’s full independent assessment of our conversational AI capabilities. The report also includes an evaluation of the global conversational AI market along with current developments and trends in the industry.

As a pioneer in the virtual agent and chatbot space, Creative Virtual has always been committed to innovating in a way that will help companies tackle their current challenges and be prepared for future changes. It’s an honour to be recognised for this long-standing dedication to being a trendsetter in the conversational AI market. Our goal is to always deliver the best possible combination of innovative technology and expertise to our customers and partners.

Download a full copy of the 2022 Conversational Intelligence report here. And then request a personalised demo here to discuss how V-Person can help improve your customer and employee experiences with an expert member of our team.

Composable CX: Becoming Agile and Flexible

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

Anyone involved in the customer experience (CX) space has likely come across articles, research, and discussions around composable CX. This concept is all about being agile and flexible to deliver better results even when faced with uncertainty and rapid change. It’s certainly no surprise that composable business jumped to the forefront in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, it was one of the main themes of a virtual Gartner conference I attended in November 2020.

Over the past two years, composability has become a key discussion point for many organisations looking to take a more agile approach to their customer experiences. In an August 2021 webinar, Impact CX with the 3 Building Blocks of Composable Business, Gartner shared the prediction that 60% of mainstream organisations will identify composable business as a strategic objective by 2023. The analysts broke this approach down into three areas:

  • Composable thinking starts with the belief that anything can be made composable. It enables employees to better respond to rapidly changing customer needs with empathy and emphasizes the sharing and seeking of ideas from both inside and outside of the organisation.
  • Composable architecture is all about unleashing innovation at scale by creating a resilient application experience through the use of APIs, microservices, and event streams. It allows for both innovative and traditional customer experiences in order to respond to disruption with agility.
  • Composable technologies, including low code, data mesh, composable platforms, and contextual intelligence, offer the needed guidance and flexibility for customers and employees.

During Argyle’s CMO Leadership Forum earlier this month, composable CX was the focus of a panel discussion. Panellists shared insights based on their experiences working with organisations to develop and implement CX strategies as part of a composable approach.

One of the key takeaways from that session for me was the importance of, and value in, making composability a companywide effort. Maximising the benefits of an investment in this approach requires it to become part of the company’s culture. There needs to be collaboration across departments and from the C-suite on down.

The panellists also stressed that just because composability enables you to do something, that doesn’t mean your organisation should do it. You must still be thoughtful about how you approach your CX strategy and solutions, being sure the decisions you make will bring real value to your customer relationships.

Perhaps not surprising, chatbots were raised as an example of a solution that a company may feel pressured to implement because ‘everyone is doing it’ but may not be the best choice for all businesses. Panellists also used chatbots to illustrate the importance of selecting the right technologies for composable CX. Basic chatbot solutions do not deliver the same benefits and flexibility as sophisticated conversational AI platforms.

If you are considering adding a new CX tool or contact channel, such as a chatbot, you should first evaluate if and how that will enhance the overall experience. Using composable thinking, ask yourself:

  • Will my customers use this type of tool or solution? Are my customers already using this channel, app, etc. and interested in engaging with our business there?
  • How will my customers use this tool or channel? Will they expect a personalised experience? What other systems, channels, tools, etc. will need to be integrated with this new solution to meet customer expectations?
  • Can we deliver a positive experience with this tool or channel? Do we have the right resources and technology to create the solution we need? Are we prepared to properly maintain and update this solution for long-term success?

Composable CX is all about being agile and flexible. It is about being able to create and deploy solutions quickly but doing so in a way that responds to customer needs in a thoughtful and empathetic way.

Even if you’re tempted to write off composable business and CX as just the latest industry buzzwords, don’t ignore the concepts and approach behind them. Organisations that are stuck in their traditional, siloed ways of working are going to find it increasingly difficult to compete with competitors that have invested in becoming more agile and flexible.

Would You Rather Call Customer Support or Clean a Toilet?

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

42% of Americans would rather clean a toilet and 46% would rather go to the dentist than call customer support.

These stats, just two of many in the 2022 Achieving Customer Amazement Study, likely have you nodding in agreement thinking about your own painful customer service experiences. Long wait times, disengaged agents, multiple call transfers, repeating yourself over and over – calling customer support has a bad reputation for a reason.

Having to call customer support is perhaps even more frustrating now than 20 or 30 years ago because we know that there are better and easier ways for businesses to provide customer service. Many of us would rather self-serve on the website, send an email, or chat with an agent online for most of our support needs, particularly when we are dealing with large companies. When we do need or prefer to make a phone call to speak with someone, a bad experience is made worse by the knowledge that there are ways to make support calls less painful which many contact centers aren’t utilizing.

Poor customer support experiences create unhappy customers, bad reviews, and lost revenue. Here are a few questions to ask about your customer service to help make it more pleasant than cleaning a toilet:

Do you make it easy for customers to reach your contact center?

Self-service options like chatbots and virtual agents are increasingly preferred by customers, but they can’t – and shouldn’t! – completely replace human contact center agents. Instead, they should be integrated with human-assisted options such as live chat and call-back so users can reach a human when needed without starting a whole separate engagement. When escalating customers from self-service to a live agent, the experience should be as seamless as possible. The agent should have full visibility of the customer’s conversation with the chatbot so they can pick it up right where the self-service experience ended.

Also, don’t make it difficult for customers to find your contact details. Companies that hide their support phone number and email address aren’t keeping customers from contacting them with issues. They are just making customers who are already annoyed about needing to contact the support team more frustrated. They have started the support experience negatively and made the job of their contact center agents even more difficult.

Do you intelligently route customers to the right agent?

Customers reaching out to your customer support channels want the ability to reach the right person to solve their issue. They don’t want to repeat their problem to multiple agents or waste more time on hold as they are transferred from department to department. Having agents specialized in specific areas is a great way to improve customer service, but only when customers are being connected with the right expert from the start.

Forward-thinking companies are using conversational AI to intelligently route customers to the right agent the first time. This technology can be used with IVR (interactive voice response) solutions for customers calling the contact center. It can also be used when handing users over from an automated chatbot to a live chat agent or call-back option. This improves the experience for both customers and agents, as well as helping to reduce the time it takes customers to have their issue resolved.

Do you provide agents with the best training and tools?

Customers want your contact center agents to be both knowledgeable about your products and services and able to convey that information in a kind and helpful way. That only happens when you provide your agents with the proper training and contact center tools. These two elements go hand-in-hand as the agent tools you have in place greatly impacts agent training.

Easy-to-use desktop conversational AI solutions improve agent performance, reduce training time, and cut average call handling times (AHT) by enabling quicker resolutions. A virtual agent designed specifically to support the agents in your contact center gives all staff members easy access to the same level of knowledge regardless of their experience. Agents can quickly find step-by-step guidance for even the most complicated procedures, processes, and applications. When agents have instant, reliable access to all the information they need in one place, they can focus on creating positive, efficient, and empathetic engagements with your customers.

Would customers rather clean a toilet or go to the dentist than call your customer support?

If the answer to this question is yes, then it’s time to make some changes to your customer support strategy. Start with simple changes, like making sure contact information for your support channels is easy to find. If you aren’t already leveraging conversational AI for self-service and in your contact center, now is the perfect time to explore those options. Recent developments in this technology make it a great choice for improving some of the most common customer frustration points.

Want to learn more? The whitepaper by Insurance Thought Leadership, The Virtual Insurance Agent, provides insights on improving customer experience with conversational AI that are applicable for all industries. Also check out the Guide to Selecting a Virtual Agent or Chatbot Vendor for tips from industry experts on how to implement and maintain successful solutions.

How to Make Your Chatbot More Conversational

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

When customers use your chatbot to self-serve, what kind of experience do you deliver? Does your chatbot need questions asked a particular way to return the correct response? Do your customers have to guess the correct keywords to enter or know specific terminology to locate the right information? Are users repeatedly told by your chatbot to try rephrasing an input that doesn’t have a direct match in the system?

All of these scenarios provide a frustrating, negative self-service experience. They often lead to an escalation to a live chat session or a call to the contact centre for resolution, meaning your support agents are left to deal with the immediate impacts of that poor experience. With digital self-service such an important piece of customer support, a chatbot with these limited capabilities is detrimental to the success of your customer experience (CX) strategy.

This is why using a high-quality conversational AI technology to build your chatbot is so important. You want your chatbot to engage with users conversationally. That isn’t possible with basic bot platforms which act more like simple FAQ tools or don’t give you options for backend integrations.

Engaging ‘conversationally’ doesn’t mean that a goal of your chatbot should be to make users think they are chatting with a real person. It’s always best to be clear that it is an automated self-service tool. Customers appreciate transparency about whether they are using a human-assisted or automated digital support option. The last thing you want to do is make them feel tricked!

Here are a few ways to create the right conversational engagement through your chatbot:

  • Create a conversational tone – Just because you aren’t trying to make users think they are talking to a real person doesn’t mean that you must make your chatbot’s responses sound stiff and bland. Craft your responses using a conversational tone that reflects your brand and has the same type of language you use on your website and in customer communications.
  • Understand free text inputs – There is more than one way to ask the same question, and in a conversation both participants understand this. Ensure your chatbot is trained to respond to the various ways users can word an input rather than requiring a specific keyword or phrase. This includes taking into account both common synonyms for your language and region as well as those for your particular industry, products, and services. And on occasions when a user’s input can’t be confidently matched to a response and the chatbot asks for the question to be rephrased, also offer some clickable suggestions or possible related FAQs to improve the experience.
  • Craft conversation flows – Adding customised conversation flows enables your chatbot to guide users through a process step-by-step in a very natural, conversational way. These flows are perfect for troubleshooting account or device issues, completing a form with the chatbot, or pinpointing a very specific piece of information to assist the customer.
  • Deliver personalised support – Integrate your chatbot with backend systems so it can provide customised responses based on that customer’s current account, subscriptions, orders, etc. Using sophisticated slot-filling functionality also enables users to authenticate within the chatbot at any time to create a seamless and more personal conversation.

The best conversational AI technology for customer support chatbots uses a blend of machine learning and natural language rules. This lets you take advantage of recent innovations in machine learning so your chatbot is constantly improving based on your users’ activities. At the same time, it gives you control over the AI so you can ensure your chatbot is using those learnings to continue providing accurate, reliable responses in a conversational way.

If you currently have a chatbot that’s failing the conversational test, check out this eBook on Conversational AI Issues & Solutions for ways to improve your solution.

If you don’t have a customer service chatbot yet and are concerned about choosing the right conversational AI technology, check out this Guide to Selecting a Virtual Agent or Chatbot Vendor for some insider expert tips.

A chatbot can be a valuable self-service option for your customers, but it must be backed by a high-quality conversational AI technology – with an emphasis on conversational.

Set your Chatbot up for Success with the Right Budget

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

I think it’s safe to say that we all love to get a good deal – or at least feel like we are! – and save a little money whenever we can. I think we can also all agree that are certain times when going with the cheapest option or skimping on a line in the budget doesn’t pay off in the end. You get what you pay for, right?

A conversational AI solution is one of those projects that your organisation should be careful not to underfund. Without the proper level of financial support and ongoing funding, you will never achieve success with a conversational AI project. A chatbot or virtual agent that is treated like an unimportant side project not worthy of dedicated resources will perform like one. It will provide a poor experience and drive users away.

If you want to have a conversational AI tool that increases customer satisfaction, contributes to cost savings, generates new revenue, and improves efficiency and productivity, then your company needs to make a commitment to invest in those goals. That commitment starts with properly budgeting for the cost of the technology, the cost of developing and implementing your customised solution, and the cost of ongoing maintenance.

Budget for the technology

Earmarking a portion of your budget for the technology itself should be a no-brainer. Without a working conversational AI technology, you have no working chatbot! However, the amount you allocate for this really depends on how and where you plan to deploy your solution.

You should take into consideration your initial project plan as well as how you may want to expand and scale it in the future. Identify your integration points, calculate how many concurrent users you anticipate, estimate how large of a knowledgebase your content will require, and select the deployment channels that best serve your users. All these elements will impact which technology is a best fit for you and how much you will need to budget for that technology. An experienced conversational AI vendor or consultant will be able to provide guidance to help you scope out your technology requirements.

Budget for the development and implementation

While there are conversational AI solutions on the market that can be deployed straight out of the box with very little configuration, they will provide a very generic, basic engagement. To really create a positive experience and be successful, a chatbot needs to be customised for your organisation, use cases, users, and goals. This customisation should include integrations with other systems (such as your CRM platform, ticketing systems, or live chat) and conversational flows tailored for your users. You also want to ensure that the chatbot can respond to questions about your products, services, and procedures with specifics unique to your business.

Unless your organisation has a team with experience creating successful chatbots with the technology you select for your identified use cases and/or channels, attempting the building and implementation of your tool internally will be a mistake. Working with an expert vendor is more cost-efficient because they already know what they are doing so you aren’t paying them to figure it out. This also means you cut down on the development time and get better, quicker results.

Budget for ongoing maintenance

If a conversational AI provider tells you that you can configure and deploy a chatbot with their platform and then leave it alone to do its thing, cross them off your list immediately! Companies that invest in those solutions quickly learn that they have wasted money on empty promises. The truth is that the ongoing maintenance of conversational AI tools is what enables long-term success.

Newly implemented chatbots need more attention than well-established ones, so that needs to be reflected in your budget. During that initial period, engaging the expert vendor’s team is recommended for the same reasons you should work with them during the building and implementation step. However, after that you should have options for moving all or some of your chatbot maintenance in-house. If you choose to do that, factor into your budget costs for those internal staff members and any related trainings or licenses.

 

If the price tag of a quality conversational AI solution creates some hesitation within your organisation, consider the cost of deploying a chatbot that delivers a negative, frustrating experience for users. Putting time and money into a tool that your customers or employees won’t want to use – even if it is just the bare minimum investment – is a misuse of resources. Not only are you wasting your budget, but you are harming your digital experience and eroding confidence in your business.

Check out the Guide to Enterprise Conversational AI Pricing for more insights on budgeting as well as typical pricing models, average costs, and calculating your return on investment.

Resolve to Make Your Conversational AI Project Healthier this Year

By Mandy Reed, Global Head of Marketing

The new year is here and that means it is time for New Year’s resolutions. The most common personal resolutions are focused on being healthier – exercising more, eating better, improving fitness, losing weight, stopping smoking. People join the gym, sign up for weight loss programmes, and download meditation apps.

But what about your conversational AI project? Does it need a New Year’s resolution to be healthier in the new year, too?

If your organisation already has a conversational AI project, then you don’t need me to wax on about the importance of digital customer support. You get it. However, if you’re concerned that your current conversational AI tool isn’t up to the task of improving your digital support experience in 2022, then it’s time to make a resolution for change.

Even the best laid plans sometimes take a wrong turn or need to be tweaked as customer expectations and your organisation change. The start of a new year is the perfect time to take a step back and re-evaluate your conversational AI project and strategy. If this review leaves you dissatisfied with what you find, you’re not alone. Here are some common reasons other organisations have given for being unhappy with their conversational AI projects:

  • I can’t expand my solution to support my growing business and customer base.
  • I have limited integration options to create a seamless and personalised experience.
  • I started my project with an inexperienced start-up that isn’t able to provide the technology updates and support I need from my conversational AI vendor.
  • I am struggling to manage multiple chatbots across different business divisions or departments.
  • I am unable to staff my chatbot project with internal resources with the necessary knowledge and experience.
  • I don’t own the user interface or training data with my current chatbot provider.

The good news is that none of these common issues are dealbreakers that mean you must scrap your current virtual agent or chatbot project and start over. Like any New Year’s resolution to be healthier, you just need a plan that starts where you are and takes you to your goal of creating a successful, valuable, and healthy solution.

Your first step should be to download the new ebook Conversational AI Issues & Solutions: Transforming Ineffective Chatbot & Virtual Agent Projects. It takes an individual look at each of the common issues listed above, explaining how they can negatively impact your conversational AI project and exploring ways they can be solved.

When you’re ready to work out the details of your plan for a healthier chatbot or virtual agent and put it into action, the Creative Virtual team is ready to be your personal trainer and coach. Contact the team here to learn more about the expert consultation and technology that’s helping brands around the world deliver reliable and valuable conversational AI solutions.

This new year, resolve to transform your conversational AI project into a healthier, more effective customer service solution. Make 2022 the year your customers, employees, and company experience the full benefits of a successful chatbot or virtual agent.

Wishing you a Season that’s Magical & Bright!

As we wrap up another year at Creative Virtual, our entire team around the world want to say a big thank you to all of our blog readers, customers, and partners!

2021 brought both challenges and celebrations for us as a company and the wider conversational AI industry, and we’re ending it looking forward to what is to come next year. In particular, we’re excited about the next big release of our V-Person™ technology, Gluon. You can find a special sneak peek here. We are also excited about the brand new ebook we recently published to help organizations solve common issues they are having with their conversational AI projects. You can get your copy of the ebook here. Be sure to subscribe to our Blog (if you aren’t already!) so you don’t miss our Gluon release announcements and new educational resources in 2022.

On behalf of all of us at Creative Virtual, wishes for a magical, festive end to 2021 and a new year full of even more bright moments!