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“Enhance User Experience with Conversational AI”

With a growing demand for customer engagement, conversational AI improves user experience and business communications as well as provides opportunities for more conversion rates, better revenues, and customer satisfaction. Creative Virtual’s Founder and CEO, Chris Ezekiel, recently talked with Sadika Sayyad and shared his views on the topic “Enhance User Experience with Conversational AI”
Sadika: Brief us about your company and offerings.
Chris Ezekiel: Creative Virtual is a world leader in conversational AI for customer and employee engagement. As a pioneer in the industry, we have played a pivotal role in the evolution of this technology and the ways it can be implemented for nearly 20 years. This year AIxOutlook named us the Innovation Excellence Leader in their 2022 evaluation of the Conversational Intelligence industry, a recognition that we are very proud to have earned!

Our V-Person™ chatbots, virtual agents, and live chat are most commonly used for customer support, employee support, and contact centre agent support. They are backed by V-Portal™, our comprehensive conversational AI management platform, which supports unlimited integration and customization tips to create solutions built specifically for the goals of our customers and partners.

Our success lies in the ability of our highly experienced team to deliver best practice expertise alongside our innovative and award-winning technology. Today our global team supports installs in more than 20 countries and 40 languages, providing both localized collaboration and international insights. We are very proud of our team’s long history of delivering highly integrated, personalized solutions that provide real business value and proven results.

Sadika: Businesses are rapidly embracing Conversational AI to improve their user experience. Throw some light on its awareness and implementation.

Conversational AI has certainly become a much more common component of customer service and employee experience strategies over the past few years. This embracing of the technology has been driven by factors such as the increase in demand for digital engagements accelerated by the pandemic, the wider availability and adoption of devices such as smartphones, and the technological advancements made within the conversational AI space.

Unfortunately, this rapid awareness of conversational AI as a way to improve user experience has not necessarily come with a full understanding of the technology and what it takes to successfully implement it. This is glaringly obvious in many organizations that have tried to take a DIY approach and build solutions themselves. Often these projects fail to deliver due to a lack of internal experience with the technology or the intended use case.

Creative Virtual has been brought in by companies to rescue their conversational AI projects when they realize that it’s more effective and efficient to collaborate with an experienced provider. Some common issues we’ve encountered that organizations should consider before attempting a DIY approach:

  • Solution can’t be scaled to other touchpoints or to support an increased number of users, expanded into additional business areas, or linked to the contact centre or other digital channels.
  • Solution can’t be integrated with other systems to create a seamless and personalized user experience.
  • Multiple chatbots across different business divisions or departments can’t be connected or managed within a single platform.
  • User interface can’t be customized or easily updated to create a properly branded experience.
  • Team doesn’t have the necessary experience to create content, design conversation flows, and properly train the system.

It’s also important for organizations to understand that there is no such thing as a successful ‘deploy it and forget it’ solution. That just doesn’t exist when it comes to customer service and employee support. It’s essential to have a properly trained team to both implement the solution as well as perform ongoing, regular maintenance.

Sadika: With the increasing demand for customer service and customer satisfaction, what are the major challenges that the Conversational AI industry faces today, and how to overcome them?

Chris Ezekiel: Within the part of the conversational AI industry where Creative Virtual operates, we are seeing several challenges that directly impact the success of a customer service experience.

The first comes from the way conversational AI platforms use artificial intelligence and machine learning. I’ve heard complaints in numerous sales and partner meetings recently about platforms that use a ‘black box’ approach that makes you feel like you’re playing ‘Whac-a-Mole’ when training your system. You have to make changes and then hope that the algorithm updates correctly. This is frustrating, time-consuming, and highly inefficient. It causes issues with the accuracy and reliability of a customer service solution.

Creative Virtual has always stressed the importance of having a human-in-the-loop, even when other vendors were pushing their AI-only, deploy-it-and-forget-it solutions. We use a hybrid methodology that combines machine learning with a rules-based approach to natural language processing (NLP). We allow for control over the AI so organizations can be confident their solutions are accurate and reliable.

Another more recent challenge that is undermining the reputation of conversational AI solutions is the growing number of ‘add-on bots’. These are chatbots that live chat and contact centre technology vendors offer as a solution that can be added on to existing contracts. They are presented as a good way to meet the growing demand for customer self-service but don’t live up to those promises.

In reality, these tools offer limited self-service functionality and often aren’t really conversational AI solutions. They rely heavily on a rules-based and keyword approach rather than AI. They are menu driven with highly scripted and predefined interactions and offer support for a very limited amount of content. The emphasis is on escalating users to human agents rather than creating an easy self-service experience because that is where the vendor is making money.

Any company that is serious about creating customer satisfaction within the digital self-service channel should keep this in mind when considering an add-on bot. Collaborating with a vendor that is a conversational AI specialist is the best way to deliver the experience customers expect and achieve success with one of these solutions.

Sadika: How can Conversational AI help you to enhance omnichannel engagement and connect with customers?

Chris Ezekiel: There is one word to keep in mind when it comes to creating omnichannel engagement with conversational AI: Integration.

True conversational AI chatbots and virtual agents are backed by a platform that enables flexible integration with a variety of other technologies and systems. This includes knowledge management platforms, ticketing systems, live chat technologies, contact centre platforms, voice systems, real-time information feeds, multiple intent engines, CRMs, and messaging platforms – to name a few!

These integrations help create conversational and personalized engagements. Personalization goes beyond just knowing a logged-in user’s name and account or order details. It’s also about personalizing the experience based on things like the user’s engagement channel, location, language, job title or member status, and saved preferences.

When implemented as part of a connected, seamless omnichannel strategy, conversational AI helps build loyalty and trust with customers. It helps organizations connect with customers on their preferred channels and devices with reliable 24/7 self-service.

Sadika: According to you, what are the major Conversational AI trends and predictions to follow?

Chris Ezekiel: Many analysts are predicting that AI will become indispensable to the enterprise in 2023, and I agree. Conversational AI will be a key part of this with both customer-facing and internal solutions. At Creative Virtual, we’re already seeing a trend toward more employee support solutions. The same growing customer base of digital natives who appreciate having 24/7 self-service options, also appreciate having those same types of digital tools offered within their workplace. This has been amplified by a more permanent switch to fully remote and hybrid working arrangements within many organizations.

A growing emphasis on the composable enterprise will also give a boost to sophisticated conversational AI platforms. This business approach is about being agile and flexible in response to times of rapid change. Composability requires the ability to plug systems together and deliver innovation at scale to address disruptions quickly. Conversational AI platforms that don’t offer this level of functionality won’t survive in the competitive marketplace.

In the spotlight

About Chris Ezekiel:
Chris Ezekiel is the CEO and Founder of Creative Virtual, a conversational AI company that specializes in providing enterprises with precise, customized, and seamless omnichannel customer engagement. Chris has a technical, sales, and marketing background and has worked for a US software company in various roles such as a Software Engineer, R&D Manager, and Sales & Marketing Director. With his technical and entrepreneurial skills, and through the development of the enterprise-level V-Person™ technology, Chris has established Creative Virtual as one of the world’s leading providers of virtual assistants.

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