Having the right skills are worth their weight in gold, especially when operating within the modern-day market that is known for its agility and operational precision. Perhaps, this is one of the main reasons why the industry is always on the lookout for professionals with dynamic skills, the ones who can reap higher customer satisfaction. But these prized skills, as is the case, are rarely available in the market. This makes the ones available an even more precious commodity.

The challenge that every growing business faces today is to deliver an exceptional customer experience and at the same time utilize the skills of its human resources to its full capacity. AI-driven chatbots are making this dream come true while boosting customer satisfaction and increasing efficiency of operations. How? Let’s find out.

What are artificial intelligence-driven conversational chatbots, and what difference do they make?

Chatbots are applications that can converse through auditory or textual methods. They are designed and trained with use cases relating to customer queries and are aimed at delivering a human-like experience to the end-user. Since people are more inclined to having fluidic conversations, cognitive capabilities, which can simulate how a human brain functions, reasons, and more importantly learns, become pivotal.Users characteristically do not want to get lostin the myriad of details, for example of a home loan or new credit card,while clicking several menus and sub-menus, especially when a simple question can fetch an instant answer. Hence it is natural that chatbots herald the next evolution of digital customer touch points from today’s static web experience.

A traditional chatbot has limited use cases, given that responses have to be defined for every question the bot encounters. The customer experience is therefore, often frustrating and stops abruptly when the bot can no longer understand the conversation. Conversely, AI-driven chatbots constantly build their knowledge through self-learning algorithms and create an extensive database that paves the way for fluidic interactions. They process their interactions with customers and identify and remember slang, grammatical mistakes and other errors. This gives them a considerable edge over traditional chatbots. But something that takes the customer experience to another level is their ability to understand the customer’s intent, analyse what the customer needs and provide tailored recommendations. Such chatbots leverage historic data to come up with apt replies leading to higher rates of conversion.

There are significant potential applications of this technology. For instance, a personalized financial virtual assistant could interact with you, answer your questions, resolve your issues and also advise you on your next investment decisions, based on your current spending and earning data. Your IT Support could be entirely handled at the first level by such virtual agents, before escalating to appropriate human agents. These “bots” will become mainstream interaction channels for enterprises sincecustomers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human, as predicted by Gartner.

Evolved, consistent, and available round-the-clock: Human? Chatbots?

To err is human. Therefore, one of the biggest advantages of cognitive capabilities in chatbots is that despite displaying all the characteristics of a human, they do not replicate flaws and disadvantages inherent to our species. Chatbots have an unmatched consistency in operations and do not make errors which are more likely to affect the overall conversion rate. They also have above-benchmark performance when it comes to customer satisfaction, and deliver considerably higher customer acquisition rates as compared to the human workforce.

A pain point that impacts customer experience is that they need to needlessly wait before they are either transferred to a customer agent or a technical expert. At times, especially during peak hours or during a resource crunch, customers have to wait for minutes before their queries are looked into. This includes customers with easily resolvable, non-technical queries, who are left waiting and often disgruntled with the brand. An AI-driven chatbot instantly deflects such interactions, rather than making such customers wait needlessly. This also decreases the total workload on the technical experts, allocating more time for query resolutionof customers with complex issues. Chatbots also minimise the operational expenditure of businesses significantly, something that can be further diverted to enhance other elements of the customer experience.

Emerging possibilities: Solving the market conundrum with Intelligence

There used to be a time when AI appeared to be a distant reality. Today, this is not the case. AI and its constituent technologies, such as Machine Learning, are being used for a range of actual market deployments and innovation-driven companies are further increasing the footprint of the technology. This year, OCBC Bank, Singapore, collaborated with a leading AI platform to develop a specialized home and renovation loan chatbot service “Emma”. Emma logged 20,000 conversations within 4 months and more than 10% of these conversations converted into mortgage loan sales prospects, translating into USD 10 Million in home loans. 9 out of 10 customers who interacted with Emma also stated that they were satisfied with the bot’s service.

The writer is co-founder and CEO, CogniCor