‘Many People Still See Conversational AI as Bots’

Sandra Radlovački

A panel of experts discussed using conversational AI right for improved CX

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‘Many People Still See Conversational AI as Bots’

Conversational AI is a broad term, but many people narrow it down to refer only to a technology that enables bots, according to a panel of experts speaking at CX Summit.

Zeus Kerravala, Principal Analyst at ZK Research, was joined at the event by Sabio Chief Innovation Officer Stuart Dorman and David Jennings, Head of Global Sales Engineering at Webex CPaaS.

The panel discussed different aspects of conversational AI and how companies can deploy the technology to foster better customer experiences.

Stuart Dorman, Chief Innovation Officer at Sabio, said: “These days most people think of conversational AI as a voice bot or a chat bot which allows a customer to complete a task through conversation, either written or spoken, to accomplish a goal without the need to speak to a human.

“The first wave of the conversational AI applications was focused on those bots.”

David Jennings, Head of Global Sales Engineering at Webex CPaaS, added: “The ultimate difference [to me] between chatbots and conversational AI is the ability to have human variants.”

Dorman went on to explain how the application of machine learning to the art of conversational AI has transformed the space over the last few years.

“Years ago, you would have to programme a set of rules to construct a conversation which meant that the conversation ended up being very rigid and prescripted.

“If a customer asked a question in a way that you hadn’t anticipated the system really struggled to respond.

“With machine learning underpinning that conversation, it gives designers of conversational AI much more flexibility in terms of how they build that conversation,” Dorman added.

The Drive Towards Conversational AI Interest Today

Despite a certain level of risk involved in deploying this type of technology, companies are implementing conversational AI without a prior assessment of customer preferences.

Jennings said: “The demand for conversational AI today comes from the likes of the Amazon Alexa series because people became more familiar with having those conversational experiences in their day-to-day lives.

“Brands need to ensure they design experiences that customers want to engage with. If they don’t want to engage with a bot, they are not going to use it but will see it as a barrier to get to your business.”

Building on Jennings’ point, Dorman said the launch of Alexa made people more comfortable interacting with computers using voice. Many organisations relied only on perfecting the graphical interface side of their business, like their website, to save costs.

The reality is that people will not be able to find information on the website and will need to resort to a conversational interface that is more natural to them, notes Dorman.

“70% of demand coming into today’s contact centres is still coming in by voice. Conversational AI helps companies treat voice as a digital channel.”


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