The 4 Steps in the Conversational AI Journey

Delivering the best possible customer experience (CX) is essential for any company to survive and thrive in today's competitive business landscape. Scarcity of labor and increasing consumer expectations and demands mean that decision-makers are turning to automation to achieve their CX goals and, at the same time, streamline operations and reduce costs.

Automation in the contact center continues to be transformed through enterprise conversational AI platforms (ECAIPs). More interactions can now be handled using voice and chat bots, with solutions ranging from interactive voice response systems and concierge bots to fully integrated transactional bots that deliver full customer service. The potential for delivering automated customer service that consumers will love is limitless.

While many contact centers are embracing ECAIPs as part of their mandate to improve CX and streamline operations, concerns still exist about the technology's effectiveness and adoption. Despite the numerous benefits of conversational AI, some companies are still reluctant to adopt this transformational technology.

The relationship between conversational AI-powered bots and contact center agents is one of the primary concerns facing companies when considering ECAIPs. The fear that automation will replace human jobs is real, and, accordingly, it is essential to understand that the role of contact center agents will evolve, not disappear. The contact center agent role will shift from transactional to consultative, which requires higher-order skills, such as problem-solving, empathy, and critical thinking. In this way, contact center agents will work collaboratively with bots to deliver more personalized customer experiences and increase efficiency.

Companies need to understand that an ECAIP deployment is not a one-time event but a journey that requires careful planning, execution, and monitoring. This journey involves several steps, including strategy development, data preparation, platform selection, and platform deployment. Each step must be carefully planned and executed, with multiple checkpoints for assessing readiness. Each step must also deliver a quantifiable benefit in terms of customer satisfaction, cost-efficiency, and agent satisfaction.

The 4 Steps in the Conversational AI Journey

The first step in the conversational AI journey is strategy development. Companies need to understand their CX goals and the role that an ECAIP will play in achieving them. This involves identifying the customer touchpoints that can benefit from automation and defining the key metrics that will be used to measure success.

The second step is data preparation. Companies need to understand the data requirements for their deployment, including the data sources, data quality, and data format. Data preparation involves data cleansing, data transformation, and data enrichment to ensure the ECAIP can use customer and corporate data most effectively.

Next comes platform selection. Companies need to evaluate ECAIPs based on their capabilities, scalability, ease of use, and cost. The platform should be flexible enough to allow for customization and integration with other systems.

The fourth and final step in the automation journey is platform deployment. Companies need to ensure the deployment is seamless and the platform is integrated with other corporate systems of record. The deployment should be conducted in phases, starting with a pilot and gradually expanding to cover more touchpoints.

One of the main benefits of conversational AI is improved CX. ECAIPs can provide more personalized, efficient customer experiences, 24/7. They can also reduce wait times, provide real-time assistance, and improve first contact resolution. In addition, conversational AI can reduce the workload of contact center agents, allowing them to focus on higher-order tasks and, in turn, increase their job satisfaction and improve the speed and accuracy of customer service.

Finally, and perhaps most important, conversational AI can improve the work lives of agents and deliver customer service that consumers will love.

Hardy Myers is senior vice president of business development and strategy at Cognigy.