What have we faced in connection with the ongoing pandemic? Uncertainty. Disruption. Rapid digitalization. The 2020 and 2021 were about accommodating online buyers, improving brand interactions, and dealing with a labor shortage.
Competition is booming. Why would prospects buy from you if they can find similar products from dozens of other vendors?
That's where you need to think outside the box and ensure customer satisfaction. For example, convert visitors with the help of frictionless UX/UI (user experience design/user interface design). You may refine the page layout, employ eCommerce site search engines, or customize a virtual assistant on the Website.
Now we see how AI and automation win their place in various fields. They keep businesses working with as little human intervention as possible and solve buyers' problems 24/7.
What should you expect if you want to join the AI trend? This piece will take a sneak peek at the 2022 predictions in terms of conversational AI and customer experience automation.
What Stands Behind Conversational AI
Conversational AI combines machine learning (ML) with natural language processing (NLP). As a result, users can interact with the technology with their voice commands and receive precise answers as if they were talking to a person.
AI-powered computer applications support voice recognition and mimic human behavior in a chat conversation. So it's an AI, but an enhanced version. It relies on biometric data rather than acting according to predefined rules.
Conversational AI streamlines interactions between virtual agents and complex systems. It allows you to get relevant and personalized results extracted from your particular situation. Thus, the line between humans and computers is blurring.
The State of the Conversational AI Market
International Data Corporation (IDC) predicts in its report that the conversational AI market will grow by more than three times in 2022 compared to 2018. It will hit $77.6 billion in 2022, up against $24.0 billion in 2018. The predicted 2017–2022 period will see the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) at the rate of 37.3%.
The two main paths in which we expect the AI to develop are:
- conversational AI applications (personal assistants and chatbots), and
- deep learning and machine learning applications (personalization, fraud detection, language translations, etc.).
Top Trends in Customer Experience Automation and Conversational AI
1. Virtual Assistants That Are Indistinguishable from Humans
You may have come across or even talked to chatbots in online stores, restaurants, hotel booking websites, or SaaS providers. Some suggest tapping on answers. Others ask to type your request, analyze keywords in the input, and return the needed information.
These are legacy chatbots. They have simple logic: if users write this, then answer this, else return this. They may efficiently perform their duties, such as informing about business hours, order status, or store location. However, they may fail to resolve situations beyond their skills.
They will have to direct a client to a human agent, increasing waiting time and nullifying all possible benefits of integrating such a technology. A failed chatbot may result in user frustration or distract customer support specialists with minor issues.
Conversational artificial intelligence takes existing chatbots to an unprecedented level. Smarter chatbots or virtual assistants can not only process your intent; they understand the context, emotional coloring, and grasp words said in noisy surroundings.
Below is an example of a chatbot on the Spoonful of Comfort website. When you open a pop-up with the digital assistant, you may choose to communicate with it or with a human. The peculiarity of this chatbot is that it tries to guess your question while you insert it. So you may click on the desired option to get the needed information faster.
Screenshot taken on the official Spoonful of Comfort website
2. Switching to an Omnichannel Approach
Today's purchasers don't just browse the Website to buy products. They expect to address their problems through any touchpoint, be it email, social media, or messaging apps like WhatsApp.
These communication channels are various "doors" through which clients enter the company and leave their information. They demand that this data remains in the system so that they won't have to repeat their request each time.
How do you maintain customer care across these channels? You need to embrace an omnichannel strategy.
According to statistics, organizations with an omnichannel interaction strategy have a 287% higher purchase rate than those who neglect it. It also increases conversions up to 90%. It means that every brand's customer experience strategy should rest upon consistent and reliable communication across several media.
That's where conversational AI and voice bots can ensure seamless experiences. A case in point is an omnichannel bot Odigo. You can integrate it with your solutions through APIs and roll it out on various devices.
Image credit: Odigo
3. Intelligent Product Recommendation Engines for Personalized Support
As far as customer experience automation is concerned, you'll need to offer shoppers personalized goods and services. Personalization has been a buzzword recently. The idea is not just to sell everything to everyone, but to dive deeper into client behavior data and display what they will like.
Such strategies will establish tighter, more individualized relationships with buyers. Examples include email personalization, increasing click-through rates in 82% of cases.
Personalization will help businesses spot and capitalize on micro-moments. These are cases when a prospect goes online to buy something or learn more about a subject reflexively. These selling opportunities can last only a few seconds, but can be extremely valuable for organizations.
Your task is to reach the appropriate potential client at the right time. Make a customized offer. Solve whatever problem the person is experiencing at the time.
AI can collect information about your prospect preferences, search history, and buyer intent. What keywords do people use? Are they satisfied with the service? An AI-powered system stores and processes this data to act appropriately.
Integrate virtual assistants with ERPs (enterprise resource planning), CRMs (customer relationship management), and other software systems. It will create a complete picture of client interactions from beginning to end.
One of the AI application examples is smart recommendation engines. You may check it out on the screenshot below taken on the Umbra online store. These collections of goods are not random. They're similar to what I searched and purchased on the Website, and the system predicts what may suit my taste in future orders.
Screenshot taken on the official Umbra website
4. Improving Customer Service Performance
An increased number of online purchases has led to the growth of customer queries. Customer service agents have to perform repetitive tasks and look for client data in enlarging databases.
Conversational AI can cope with expanding call volumes and streamline human labor. Automated phone system technologies, such as interactive voice response (IVR), are fuelled by:
- ASR (automated speech recognition);
- TTS (text to speech) technologies;
- sentiment analysis,
- and so on.
All these are used to upgrade operational models and provide the best possible customer assistance. For example, voice and text-based bots manage more complicated tasks.
AI assistants can be trained to give pre-generated answers to purchasers' queries. If they don't have enough expertise, more complex tasks will go to qualified specialists. The AI-bot will remember how to resolve such incidents without human intervention in the future.
Besides, they can provide more insights into agent efficiency, leading to customer satisfaction and closed sales. One such educational AI solution for human agents is Cogito. It's a tool assessing a call-center employee work; for example:
- how fast they speak;
- whether they are slow to respond;
- and whether their speech is empathetic and energetic enough,
- to name a few.
Screenshot taken on the official Cogito website
So it's not about leaving people behind. Instead, it's about enhancing their skills and removing some mundane aspects of their work.
In 2022 and beyond, we'll see that more and more companies adopt AI in the form of intelligent call routing systems. They will act in both ways, when robots and people support each other. It will positively impact such business metrics as average resolution time and first contact resolution while offering outstanding customer support and a pleasant experience.
To Sum Up
Improving the user experience is a hot topic among all companies. The reason is that it remains the only decisive feature making you stand out from the competition. If visitors are satisfied with the service, they won't have to click the "Back" arrow and search for more convenient websites.
How should you upgrade your Website to get to the top? Winning new clients and retaining existing ones now depends on how fast you will cope with major challenges:
- traffic influx;
- processing massive data arrays, and
- interpreting data insights into unrivaled customer service.
That's where you'll need to employ modern technologies, such as automation tools and AI. They constantly develop, adjusting to the quickening pace of life.
Every second of a user's time is valuable. As a result, technology and solutions for optimizing performance and user experience will continue to evolve in the following directions:
- human-like virtual assistants;
- omnichannel interactions;
- personalized product offers, and
- automating customer service workflow,
- among others.
Alex Husar, chief technology officer at Onilab, has been working on Magento migration and development projects, as well as building progressive Web apps (PWAs), for more than 8 years. An expert in full-stack development, he shares his expertise and in-depth knowledge on modern technologies and Computer Software Engineering.