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Conversational AI: A key to unlocking growth?


October 14, 2022

After the arrival of the first smartphones, it took about a decade for mobile apps to reach their current maturity. That will seem like a snail’s pace compared to the adoption of another tech breakthrough: AI-enabled customer interactions.

Industry consensus suggests that AI will enable more than 90% of customer interactions within the next few years. Tapping into AI can help increase operational efficiency and customer satisfaction. Recent Accenture research suggests another important outcome: higher growth.

Our global study found that organizations that manage service as a value driver achieve higher growth. More specifically, they drive 3.5x more revenue growth than companies managing service as a cost centre. And, on average, they are spending just 50 basis points more of their revenue on service.

Through the study, we identified multiple pathways to emulate the growth and success of these service innovators. One pathway is growing trust through predictive, proactive service—in other words, identifying and resolving potential issues before they affect the customer. Another pathway is growing usage through customer success programs—an approach well known in the B2B world but also welcomed by B2C customers who want to get the most value from their purchases.

The new digital world continues to push contact centres to rethink how they can fully unleash conversational AI to support a far greater range of customer intents. Virtual assistants can and should go well beyond FAQs and a “point in the right direction.”

Artificial intelligence is essential to implementing predictive service and customer success programs at speed and scale. With AI enablement, it becomes possible to go beyond the functionality of current mobile apps. You can begin to embed human-like support—for example, greater empathy and proactive coaching—in your app and other communication channels.

In banking, proactive, commonsense outreach may include alerts for potential overdraft issues or a heads up if a recurring transaction does not occur as expected. In retail, companies can grow trust and usage by serving up personalised recommendations based on purchasing history and other in-depth customer insights.

From my perspective, conversational AI is one of the most versatile technologies for growing trust and usage. At its core, conversational AI enables customers to interact with computer systems as they would with other people.

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Across industries, conversational AI has immense potential to fuel customer satisfaction and growth. Early examples of conversational AI included basic FAQ functionality to support service needs and sales transactions. In other cases, conversational AI has functioned like a chaperone, guiding customers to the right online resource or service representative to resolve their requests.

Then the pandemic compressed years of digital transformation into a matter of months. Customers are now far more willing to engage with virtual assistants that actually get things done. And the customer intents that virtual assistants can handle continue to grow in number, complexity and effectiveness.

Indeed, the new digital world continues to push contact centres to rethink how they can fully unleash conversational AI to support a far greater range of customer intents. Virtual assistants can and should go well beyond FAQs and a “point in the right direction.”

Instead, unleash AI-enabled interactions to handle end-to-end tasks and transactions. Changing an address. Cancelling a payment. Updating a standing order. Identifying a specific need and routing the customer to the correct specialist. All are prime examples of how conversational AI can deliver better customer experiences and outcomes.

These interactions can occur through a messaging platform like the ones consumers have woven into their daily lives and interpersonal relationships. Consider that WhatsApp alone has close to 2 billion users around the world. Viber, Apple iMessage, WeChat, Signal, Telegram and Facebook Messenger are other popular platforms.

Thanks to conversational AI, customers can interact with providers through these friendly, familiar messaging interfaces. In much the same way that companies once made “mobile first” a mantra, it’s time for all customer service organizations to make conversational AI central to their strategy and operations.

Customers want you to predict—and proactively address—their needs. They also appreciate when you offer convenient support that helps them make the most of what they have purchased from you. There is simply no way to deliver against those expectations using traditional contact centre resources or systems. By investing in conversational AI, you can support customer interactions that build trust, build usage and lead to higher revenue growth.


Can Kekevi

Managing Director – Strategy & Consulting, Customer, Sales & Service, Financial Services