Rise of Voice Tech and Conversational AI in a post COVID-19 World

When we think of voice technology and conversational AI, our initial thoughts usually drift towards talking robots or even all-powerful machines in Hollywood blockbusters. Truth be told, talking smart machines or conversational AI has been around us for years although its presence has been milder compared to futuristic projections on the silver screen. Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and the Google Assistant are all common examples of virtual assistants present in our smartphones and smart home devices. These are intelligent tools that record our voice inputs, process data, and match it with relevant information in the databases. By doing so, they provide the information we seek or perform tasks we ask the machine to do.

This technology has consistently grown in applications across interfaces and devices over the last few years. Through the power of Machine Learning, these AI tools become better with each use. Every command you give to a voice AI is stored and used to create customizations and predict choices you are likely to make. When used in business processes, such tools work wonders by improving customer experience and making the transactions increasingly convenient for customers as well as businesses.

The recent pandemic outbreak forced a major revamp of the conventional processes. Business activities such as customer service had to be automated as the major call centers had to be closed during the lockdown. Even now with a gradual reopening, there are several long-term social distancing measures in place which have significantly reduced the number of hands on deck. However, the increase in customers seeking digital services has led to a demand for greater sales/customer service and marketing outputs. This is where the cloud based or edge communication tools have emerged as heroes in salvaging the situation and helping businesses grow. Conversational AI tools have not only helped in plugging the gap created by reduction of human resources, but also facilitated optimum deployment of long-term processes. All this will help take customer experience to an altogether new level in the years ahead.

Conversational AI advantages

Automation in the form of IVR has been around for a number of years, but it has severe limitations. This is because IVR can often fail to support customers who don’t require a pre-set template of services, but have queries or doubts. Failure of IVR to respond effectively thus brought down customer experience ratings for businesses. Invariably, IVR systems had to be backed up human executives and this made them costlier.

On the other hand, a cloud or edge based conversational AI integrates a much wider knowledge base, machine learning, ability to process natural languages and even voice recognition to identify users. Thus, it is able to understand the customer’s queries, their context and find the most relevant responses from its database. Further, the experience from the interaction is stored by the AI for improving its future conversations. All this is done digitally through a smart AI tool. There is thus a much-reduced need for human resources and operational expenses enabling companies to optimize their resources. The human customer service professionals can be utilized to serve high value and complex customer needs and simpler engagement activities can be handled by the conversational AI. The pandemic has brought such technologies to fore and the year has been a great testimony to the efficiency as well as the endless potential offered by conversational AI. JARVIS might no longer remain fictitious for long!