3 Strategies for Greater Conversational AI Outcomes

Top Takeaways

  • Companies are seeing positive results from Conversational AI, however many believe greater outcomes are possible by extending reach, functionality, and intelligence of their solutions.
  • Integrating Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Connected Products and Evolutionary AI with Conversational AI allows companies to deliver enhanced customer experiences, automate deeper into core processes and derive more meaningful insights from their data.
  • Industries that can benefit immediately from this approach to Conversational AI include healthcare, retail, hospitality, banking, insurance and consumer goods.

Summary

I have discussions every day with Conversational AI leaders across a wide range of companies and industries, each in various stages of rolling out voice-based virtual agents, chatbots, digital assistants and other variations of these solutions. These leaders all seek the same goals, whether focusing on web, contact center, mobile apps, smart speakers, messaging – or increasingly – all the above. Their top 3 objectives include:

  • Creating more revenue opportunities
  • Improving customer care and support
  • Enhancing customer experience

Generally, most I speak with are satisfied with their results so far, feel they are developing a foundation of best-practices and are planning to further operationalize, scale and accelerate these solutions across their organizations. At the same time, there is a growing sentiment that more should be possible from Conversational AI. Deeper and broader use cases, greater innovation and more tangible results are becoming common themes in those discussions. 

To those expecting more from Conversational AI, read on for 3 strategies to greater outcomes

For more impactful results from Conversational AI there is wider path to success not often obvious for most companies. That is to extend the functionality, reach andintelligence of chatbots, voice and virtual agent programs by aligning them with 1) Robotic Process Automation, 2) Connected Products / Internet of Things and 3) Evolutionary AI. Following is a closer examination into how these technologies can work together with Conversational AI to deliver broader and more substantive results than when each is deployed as a discrete, stand-alone strategy.

1. Conversational AI + Robotic Process Automation = True Intelligent Automation

Conversational AI is following a similar trajectory as did Robotic Process Automation1 (RPA) just a few years ago.  It’s evolving quickly from smaller FAQ-type pilots to more integrated, transactional solutions as organizations find more ways to optimize engagements for the emerging hands free and screen-less UI.  Of course, a very apparent difference between RPA and Conversational AI is that chatbots and voice solutions are obvious to the end-user, whereas RPA typically operates unseen addressing friction points customers may feel, but not see.   Big gains can happen by combining the capabilities of Conversational AI with RPA to optimize not just front office but also middle and back office as well. 

How Conversational AI + Robotic Process Automation complement each other

At the edges of a customer facing process Conversational AI automates what it does well, which is delivering personalized, one-to-one interactions with prospects, clients and end users.  RPA picks up behind that customer interaction point, providing blazing speed by automating previously manual and labor-intensive screen and keyboard tasks such as retrieving customer records, updating forms and databases, merging files and providing connections between hard to integrate applications. 

Where to apply Conversational AI + Robotic Process Automation together

  • Contact Centers and Support Desks – Handing ‘how to’ questions, booking reservations and scheduling service calls; Providing remote support, diagnostics and troubleshooting; Enabling sales and order processing as well as payments, returns and credits.
  • Insurance, Banking and Financial Services – Finding branches, agents and brokers; Checking balances and moving funds; Initiating loans, accounts and policy applications; Opening claims and validating policy coverages; Investment and portfolio reporting, initiating fund and stock research, tracking and delivering performance results.

1The Robotic Process Automation (RPA) hype machine first roared to life about five years ago with the promise to automate away all those repetitive and inefficient back office tasks and activities with blistering fast bots. Following the climb up the learning curve and lots of experimentation, it’s now hard to find a support desk, processing center, or F&A, HR or IT process that hasn’t deployed RPA into all the obvious places. 

2. Conversational AI + IoT = Contextual, Hands-Free Interactions

Connected Products (or IoT) are everywhere in our consumer lives and increasingly in our offices and industrial workplaces and it’s not just smart speakers, voice-controlled lights and equipment sensors. These always-on connections from billions of end points allows products to perform better, run more efficiently and operate more safely.   

Conversational AI adds even greater value to connected products when combined with complimentary hardware such as far field microphones and interactive displays.  These advances allow product engineers and designers to embed voice controlled, hands-free user interfaces into more and more “things” of all kinds. 

How Conversational AI + Connected Products Complement Each Other

With Conversational AI providing contextual and personalized capabilities via voice and screen interfaces, a far greater array of physical products, equipment and devices can offer more interactive ways for people to obtain information, conduct transactions and request support. Together, Connected Products and Conversational AI deliver a richer customer experience in everything from home appliances to industrial machinery to building lobbies to virtual medical care.

Where to apply Conversational AI + Connected Products together

  • Virtual Health Care – Reduce hospital stays with monitored in home care; Connect with tele-nurses or virtual physicians to discuss and monitor conditions; Record biometrics and physical activities; Update caregivers and healthcare specialists on out of tolerance ratings or other indicators.
  • Drive Thru’s and Kiosks – Quick-serve restaurants, retail stores, banks, pharmacies, dry cleaners – any business that relies on drive through windows, menu boards, displays or kiosks – can increase sales and deliver ‘segment of one’ personalization with natural language technologies embedded into intelligent displays.
  • Retail Sales Floors, Building Lobbies, Meeting Spaces – Offer hands free, personalized and zero wait channels for customers and visitors to search, shop and get support; applicable to retail, financial services, healthcare facilities, transportation hubs and terminals, and entertainment venues.

3. Conversational AI + Evolutionary AI2 = Humanizing Artificial Intelligence

“Tell me what I don’t know about my competition, my customers and myself, that allows me to sell more effectively, delight my customers and improve my productivity.” 

Success in business, no different than any other competition, requires insight. Insight is meaning derived from analyzing data on interactions, transactions and operational metrics then drawing conclusions and generating predictions. In our digital era, there is little challenge in compiling tremendous quantities of data, however gleaning real meaning and insight from so much raw information remains far more elusive. Fortunately, as the technologies and talent that enable smart analytics, such as Evolutionary AI, continue advancing, applying these capabilities in tandem to Conversational AI greatly multiplies the intelligence value over deploying either separately.

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2Evolutionary AI is combining AI with Evolutionary Computing to drive AI adoption at scale.

How Conversational AI + Evolutionary AI Complement Each Other

Conversational AI brings virtual agents, chatbots and connected products to life and allows natural language interactions to enhance user experience and improve outcomes.  All of these digitized “conversations” – billions now happening daily – create a universe of training data for Evolutionary AI such as the Cognizant LEAF AI system.  Bringing these capabilities together allows contact centers to “infer” human emotions such as angst, frustration or concern from chat or virtual agent dialogue. That insight can be enhanced with contextual and referential data to recommend real-time best actions to agents or directly to customers.

Where to apply Conversational AI + Evolutionary AI together

  • Healthcare – AI services such as natural language understanding, sentiment analysis and machine learning can help identify potential drug misuse or even addictive behaviors, alert caregivers about patients at risk, improve health outcomes and lower treatment costs.
  • Information, Media and Entertainment – as mass media is being replaced by segment of one media, both content generation and distribution is increasingly more contextual, personalized and interactive.  Product engineers and news and entertainment services alike can leverage natural language interfaces and Evolutionary AI to analyze usage, duration and location data, media preferences and channel trends to continuously enhance individualized experience and relevance.

What’s Next For Conversational AI

For most companies, the prevailing Conversational AI strategy has been to focus on relatively narrow use cases addressing customer experience and internal efficiency. This thinking certainly yields positive results when applied effectively but does potentially narrow the range and depth of available applications. Even greater results exist when Conversational AI is applied complimentary with other powerful technology approaches such as Robotic Process Automation, Connected Products and Evolutionary AI. With this integrated strategy more substantive outcomes are possible; customer experiences can be significantly enhanced, and competitive advantages are magnified.

It’s time to think bigger about what Conversational AI can do and these strategies are a great place to start!

Original. Reposted by submission.

Opinions expressed by AI Time Journal contributors are their own.

About Matt Smith

Contributor Conversational AI Practice Leader | Associate Vice President | Cognizant I run Cognizant’s Conversational AI practice and love sharing ideas with others in this space.

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