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Today, consumers are firmly in control of their time, energy and brand connection. And firms that wish to cater to their expectations must fight to stay relevant. Thanks to recent advancements in Artificial Intelligence, firms can now drive consumer engagement and facilitate transactions using machine learning algorithms that process human language.

Conversational Artificial Intelligence uses a technique known as Natural Language Processing (NLP) to analyze and interpret a question or command. And to mimic how humans interact — through voice, and text. It is the foundation of platforms like Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. And the means by which firms automate customer interactions on apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.

The Big Picture

Conversational AI is poised to become the primary way in which consumers buy physical, goods such as groceries, appliances, and fashion, as well as how they other things like access medical services, buy insurance and manage their finances. In 2020, Enterprises will begin to embrace Conversational AI across a number of use cases, for example:

  • Using Alexa Business to bring to light crucial financial information, such as customer loyalty figures, or corporate tax balances, or to uncover facts and figures for research and strategy.
  • On-boarding new clients, helping customers find discover products, and even on-boarding and training their own employees.
  • Manufacturers will use Conversational AI to interact with their customers, gather accurate information about their needs and desires. And use the insights to help them create new and better offerings.

There is no area of the Enterprise that Conversational AI won’t touch – from marketing, sales, and customer service to hiring, training and employee development.

Beyond just being a digital assistant capable of delivering answers to complex queries, Conversational AI will reduce systems friction, enable more efficient interactions, and empower businesses to optimize and transform their entire customer journey.

How Consumers are Adopting Conversational AI

Consumers are rapidly adopting Conversational AI to facilitate everyday transactions. People are now comfortable talking to their smartphones. Whether they are checking in on their flight from home, making up their grocery list, or searching online using their voice.

The paradigm of a happy customer interacting with a merchant or service provider is what conversational artificial intelligence facilitates for all types of businesses. And with many global firms delivering the technology as a standard part of their customer journey, the customer’s expectation of what a great experience should be – is quick evolving.

Consumers no longer need human agency to purchase something. Simply telling a voice or text bot what they want, and the specific experience they desire makes the journey to purchase more immediate, relaxed, and friendly.

What we’re seeing in the Market

Chatbots have quickly emerged as the primary way in which brands implement Conversational AI. Juniper research predicts that by 2023, Chatbots alone could drive over $22 billion in annual retail sales. They provide a new way to create and deliver an immediate and engaging experience for consumers on various apps and platforms.

Firms that want to reduce customer effort and realize the benefits of simple and effective responses will find Chatbots extremely helpful. There are also operational benefits. With a chatbot, firms reduce the time spent on protracted customer support calls while lowering manpower costs, and increasing productivity.

Chatbots are transforming what was previously a cost center into a ‘profit from the positive’ center by creating a more immediate and accessible customer experience across a variety of enterprise cases from Healthcare and Government to Retail and Insurance.

B2B firms are using chatbots to resolve customer queries and answer product/service questions before, during, and after the sale. (See FAQ Bots)

Inclusiveness is a natural next step for Chatbots. Developers are testing chatbots to help people who are visually and hearing impaired. The ability to design conversation interfaces for those with impairments is an important next step in enabling all consumers to participate in the new economy.

See a History of Chatbots

Advice Track

Firms are facing a new era of consumer choice. Only two years ago, ‘consumer engagement’ (likes, clicks, shares) was the gold standard for measuring digital marketing success. Conversational AI will create a new gold standard that combines brands and consumers in an intelligent two-way conversation directly tied to ‘sales’. Conversational Commerce will erase the distinction between sales and marketing. And brands from now through to 2022 should begin embracing Conversational AI as part of their strategic outlook.