Conversational AI platforms have matured over the past couple of years to go from largely novelty chatbot applications to truly scalable interfaces that deliver real results. Despite this, many businesses are still failing to harness their true potential. In many cases, this is not due to shortcomings in the applications themselves but rather a lack of focus on building engaging conversations.
In 1997, the late Steve Jobs stood in front of an audience of software developers to answer questions regarding Apples’ software products. He was heckled by one of the more critical audience members for apparently “not knowing what he was talking about” in regards to the technology Apple had chosen to use. Jobs famously replied, “you’ve got to start with the customer experience and work backwards to the technology, you can’t start with the technology and then work out how to sell it”.
What Jobs understood, and subsequently ensured he was ahead of his time, was that when implementing disruptive technology, a customer-centric model must be taken in order to maximise its value. An organisation should sit down with its customers and ask how they can help them improve their experience, before sitting down with their team of engineers and finding out what technology they have and how it can be implemented.
This same principle should be utilised when implementing a Conversational AI interface. Virtual Agents, Chatbots and other conversational interfaces are only as good as the questions that they are asking the customer. Even the most advanced and capable conversational technologies will have little effect on delivering business value and insights if they are not asking the right questions and truly engaging the customers' desires. This is why designing engaging conversations should be of top priority to any organisation which wishes to truly utilise AI technologies to get ahead of their competitors.
We can all recall being persuaded and influenced by a quality salesperson to buy a product or being reassured by a well-trained customer service representative of the resolution of our query. It is the reason that industry-leading companies, the likes of Google and Apple, have spent enormous amounts of resources on creating training frameworks that ensure they produce quality staff that are able to appropriately engage and guide customers. Conversational AI agents should not be treated any differently, rather, they should be treated as digital employees that need to be trained constantly to have quality conversations by asking the right questions, much as humans do.
Let us visualise this concept using Mesh AI virtual agents engaging with potential customers as examples. The first agent is one that has been deployed with little care given to dialogue building before deployment.
Notice how the customer is engaged coldly, reinforcing the fact that they are speaking to an inanimate robot with little care or desire for their query. Furthermore, the customer is then bombarded with information that the agent has located as relevant to the line of query. The information is vague and unfocused and the customer quickly loses interest and is disengaged.
Now look below at an example of a virtual agent that was deployed after thorough focus on delivering quality dialogue that is humanising and engaging.
Notice how by simply changing the style of language, to humanize, we can completely change the energy of the engagement. The customer is asked questions that help guide the agent towards delivering more focused answers that can truly help find the solution that best meets their demand. The virtual agent asks the right question to deliver the right answers.
The second agent puts the customer first and therefore delivers greater value whilst the first agent puts the product and the technology first. Truly disruptive Conversational AI platforms follow Steve Jobs advice and ensure that they deploy agents that are always customer-centric. They understand that conversational consultation is as important as their technology and ensure that they offer conversationalist services along with their products to ensure that their customers harness their full potential.
With the AI future amongst us, businesses that are looking to get ahead need to begin to understand the operational processes that are necessary. Conversational AI platforms have the capability to revolutionise and modernise customer service and sales. The technology is available but for businesses to truly harness its full potential they must start by asking their customers the right questions. The more human we can make our AI solutions the more value they will deliver to our organisations and customers.