It’s no secret that today’s customers expect seamless, highly personalized communication across all channels when connecting with businesses. That’s why artificial intelligence (AI) is fast becoming a must-have for brands looking to gain a competitive edge in the battle for customer loyalty, and using conversational AI to answer basic queries is often be an accessible starting point. In fact, by 2030, the conversational AI industry is expected to be worth $41.39 billion, and as its technology advances, more companies will look to improve their contact center operations with features like a virtual agent.
To ensure this type of solution can effectively meet consumer expectations and help deliver a great customer experience (CX), there are a few considerations brands need to keep in mind when designing AI conversations, starting with keeping things simple.
By 2030, the conversational AI industry is expected to be worth $41.39 billion
A customer comes to the contact center to resolve an issue, so ensuring a smooth, satisfying, and seamless path to maintaining a smooth conversation flow with a virtual agent is critical. Additionally, to provide a more engaging and effective experience, businesses should write voice prompts that reflect how customers actually speak and avoid overloading them with too many marketing or sales messages through a virtual agent. These items will slow down the path to problem resolution and can confuse or frustrate the customer.
On the other hand, experts who study the science of human-to-human interactions point to the importance of tone, expressions, and gestures in productive conversations. In the absence of these visual and tonal cues in AI interactions, a good conversational AI design will provide discourse markers. Words like “OK”, “thank you” or “I got it” are necessary elements to mark the progress of the interaction in a virtual conversation and indicate that it is progressing and that the client has been understood. This action can also be used to signal a change of topic within a conversation flow, or as a reporting tool to indicate the completion of a key performance indicator (KPI).
Another very important point is to manage consumer expectations, as in some cases system delays or downtime may occur, especially when the virtual agent needs to retrieve information from an application programming interface (API) or a management system. customer relationship management (CRM) to move the conversation forward. Thus, the best way to manage it proactively is to include notices that clearly communicate the possible waiting time while the information is located.
Built-in repetition at crucial moments in the flow is also an error recovery strategy that addresses many of the most common causes of conversation derailment. For example, if a user has skipped a question, the virtual assistant can recognize a delay or lack of response, triggering a repeat of the question. Adding more detail with replay, such as suggesting possible responses, can further help the customer get the conversation back on track and move the interaction forward. In the event that the conversation cannot be recovered, it is important to have a defined point of no return that triggers a connection with a human agent.
With conversational AI technology, contact centers can apply deeper intelligence and automation across all communication channels leading to more meaningful personalization and effective problem resolution. Virtual agents are rapidly replacing traditional interactive voice response (IVR) and basic chatbots to create more human-like customer interactions, even when agents are not yet in the conversation, as this technology enables them to manage and better serve the most complex customer queries, freeing you from basic or repetitive tasks.
Conversational AI can be a game changer for the modern contact center if applied well, as designing it is both an art and a science. Those who design this type of interaction have to bridge the gap between the technical functionality of the machine and the unpredictable nature of humans. Good conversation designers will always champion the customer and hold realistic expectations about the role of conversational AI technology.
By Dawn Harpster, Senior Conversation Architect at Talkdesk
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism