Have you watched any videos posted by New York-based YouTuber Arieh Smith (known online as Xiaomanyc)? With millions of subscribers, Smith’s videos have click-enticing titles like “Clueless White Guy Speaks Perfect Chinese, Shocks Patrons and Staff” and “White Guy Bargains for Clothes in Fluent Mandarin, Amazes Market.”

While each video is a bit different, the setup is consistent. This young man enters an establishment, and after a few quick exchanges in English, he suddenly switches to Mandarin, Cantonese, even Fuzhounese. Smith’s language skills are no doubt impressive, but what stands out in these scenarios are the reactions of the native speakers who overhear him. They express surprise, of course, but also warmth and joy at hearing him shift easily and respectfully into their languages.

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Interactions via Conversational AI provide make-or-break moments that organizations must get right to earn trust, build loyalty and drive repeat business.

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Beyond their entertainment value, these videos speak to the importance of authentic language when engaging with other people. It’s a lesson I learned well while earning undergrad and graduate degrees in Spanish language and literature. Although my speaking Spanish may be less surprising than an American fluent in multiple Chinese languages, our clients in Latin America still react with warmth and enthusiasm when I’m able to converse in their language.

After all, who doesn’t love the comfort of hearing familiar words and phrases – aural acknowledgements of who we are and where we come from?

That insight also applies when organizations are engaging people through technology – particularly the Conversational AI made possible by our Advanced Customer Engagement (ACE+) platform. Interactions via Conversational AI provide make-or-break moments that organizations must get right to earn trust, build loyalty and drive repeat business.

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Accenture offers numerous options to implement high-quality Conversational AI to support English- and Spanish-speaking customers. But it can be a much greater challenge when we’re collaborating with organizations that operate in places like Singapore (which recognizes four official languages) and Malaysia (with 10 dialects of the Malay language). In markets like these, we devise creative solutions to address local-language needs – and ensure that Conversational AI is authentic.

And yet, when multinational companies deploy Conversational AI, language isn’t the only complication that Accenture helps them creatively solves for. Digital platforms and tools function like “languages,” as well.

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In Africa, for example, there is high penetration of smartphone adoption in South Africa and Nigeria. From there, the numbers drop off significantly. And even where there is relatively high smartphone use, there are still millions of people relying on 2G and 3G phones.

In other words, companies operating in African markets can’t just deploy their standard chatbot and expect to see great results. We help them think through how to make their Conversational AI work on other channels – from interactions via Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD) to outbound communications using shared message service (SMS) and outbound interactive voice response (IVR) systems.

In Asia, we help clients navigate the best way to leverage their Conversational AI investments using locally dominant platforms (WeChat in China and Line in Thailand, to name just two examples).

The opportunities to use Conversational AI are huge. So is the importance of knowing your customers – the languages they speak as well their go-to digital channels. It’s key to enabling effective customer service and eliciting delighted reactions like those Arieh Smith films for his channel.

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Melissa Eisner

Managing Director, Strategy & Consulting – Customer

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