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What is Conversational AI and how to use it to grow your business

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Business VoIP Solutions | VoIP Services | VoIP Technology

Artificial Intelligence (AI) based solutions are everywhere. They provide everything from movie recommendations for consumers to 24/7 customer support for a business. Technology companies have made great strides in improving AI through natural language processing and related tools.

SMBs and AI-based solutions

For a small business though, using conversational AI seems daunting at best. When you’re concerned with keeping the lights on or meeting deadlines, how can you even begin to navigate the confusing domain of AI? Unfortunately, the reality is that your customers already expect you to offer the benefits of AI-based solutions. So you have to meet or even exceed those expectations.

More specifically, those expectations almost always start with customer service. Today’s consumers expect businesses to be there 24/7, whenever and wherever they are. Gone are the days when a customer had only a handful of options: visit your business in person, pick up the phone and call you, or maybe send an email. Now companies need to offer customer service via email, voice, video, social networks, messaging apps. And customers expect to access these options from a variety of devices – from a computer, mobile phone, tablet, landline, smart speakers, etc. 

As you can see, conversational AI can help your business reach customers effectively and at a lower cost than you could offer otherwise. You can expand your customer service options without hiring more employees or investing in expensive systems. But before we get into how to use conversational AI in your business, let’s understand what it is and isn’t.

What is conversational AI?

Conversational AI refers to technologies that allow for more natural interaction between humans and computers. Instead of asking your customers to speak or ask questions in a way that computers can understand, conversational AI enhances the capabilities of computers to interact more like humans. 

Chatbots are the most frequently implemented conversational AI experiences but they are not the only ones. A typical chatbot from a decade ago could handle basic queries from customers such as giving shipping updates or account status information. But today’s conversational AI-enhanced chatbots can do so much more. They can:

  • Guide your customers through complex processes such as placing purchase orders
  • Help users navigate through extensive help documents 
  • Accomplish end-to-end interactions such as helping customers return purchased products

They can do all this by using data that you already have on customers, natural language processing abilities, as well as interacting with users in ways that are convenient and useful to them. 

Common areas for deploying conversational AI

1- Customer support

It’s immediately obvious how conversational AI can help in improving customer service. If an AI chatbot can handle basic queries, your agents can handle the more complex issues. It can reduce the time customers have to wait on hold to talk to someone over the phone. Even if you shift only 20% of your support interaction to an AI chatbot, it can improve the efficiency of the service team tremendously. 

2- Streamline internal business processes

Customer-facing chatbots are one thing but you can use conversational AI to help your employees as well. They can be especially useful in HR departments. Staff often have questions about vacation hours, office policies, HR rules, payslips, and so on. But you don’t really want your HR staff to get bogged down answering simple questions. Enter conversational AI-based solutions. Now your employees get the answers they need but without having to wait for a person to assist them. 

3- Sales and marketing support

Conversational AI can also help your business generate more leads and close sales. How often have you failed to convert a lead from your website because no one was available to answer a customer’s question? Or maybe you get a lot of views o your social media platforms but they do no translate into actual leads?

An AI chatbot on your website or social media network can help answer customer questions right at the point where they are considering a purchase. When your chatbot engages them in a conversation, they are less likely to lose interest or check out the competition. In the battle for consumers’ attention, conversational AI-based tools can be a huge help.

How does conversational AI help your business?

You may wonder how exactly conversational AI can help your business in customer support or sales and marketing. AI-based solutions can:

1- Reduce friction

Just like every other business, you are also striving to make each customer interaction as seamless as possible. But there are a number of places where customers experience friction that stops them from making a purchase decision. For example, your website does not have the information they need. Or they cannot reach your phone lines as they’re too busy. 

Deploying a chatbot on your website can help reduce friction. A chatbot can answer customer questions patiently throughout the day and night, regardless of timezones, and without getting tired. It allows your customers to engage with your business in a much more natural manner. They don’t need to know specific jargon or ask a question in just the right way. 

2- Increase engagement

Conversational AI can also increase customer engagement on your website or social media platforms. These solutions often access the data you have on your customers to provide meaningful solutions. It means your customers are more engaged with your brand, leading to improved brand loyalty and customer retention. As a bonus, conversational AI allows you to meet your customers at the point where they need help. They don’t have to remember to contact you later.

3- Convenient and effortless

Conversational AI is user-friendly and intuitive. Unlike traditional chatbots or ‘software assistants,’ users don’t need to memorize particular words or phrases. They don’t need to know or understand your industry jargon. The AI does the work of translating their questions from natural language to something an app can understand. It can also find information for the customer and offer it in a user-friendly format with the language your customer can understand. 

In other words, conversational AI enhances the way customers and computers interact with each other to be closer to what 2 people can achieve. It can offer personalized, contextual based help that is often missing when customers navigate support channels online. 

Features of conversational AI

So what features should a conversational AI-based solution have? How can you deploy it for your business? Any decent AI-based solution should have the following:

1- 2 way conversation

Think of any conversation you have with another human being. It does not simply consist of questions and answers. An AI chatbot should be capable of talking to a customer in a natural, friendly manner with back and forth conversation. The user should not feel as if they are talking to a piece of software. 

2- Contextual understanding

The AI tool should be able to offer solutions or guidance based on the context. Every customer who wants help with a product is not looking for the same solution. The tool should be capable of asking questions to resolve any ambiguity. It should be able to remember facts and previous answers to understand the next question.  

Suppose a customer asks for a shipping update and has given their account number. After getting a reply, they ask about their other order. The tool should be able to get their order and give them an update without having them repeat the same information

3- Adapt to users

Not all users have the same level of expertise or knowledge regarding your products or services. Some users may give all the necessary information in one sentence. Others may add facts as the conversation moves along or when they remember it. The AI should be able to adjust and keep pace with all kinds of users – from the absolute beginner to the expert.

4- Keep them on-topic

Customers have a tendency to go off-topic, especially when they are doing the research before purchasing something or trying to get a solution to their problem. The AI should be able to keep them focussed on the task at hand by asking questions and guiding them towards their goal.

5- Multipurpose conversations

Rarely does a customer contact a business looking for just one thing. They might have a problem to solve, need an account update, and also want to know your business hours. Or they may have several questions about a product and are also looking to buy another one from your business. So the conversational AI should be able to keep up with the customer even as they switch topics or ask multiple questions on different areas.

Build your own vs subscription-based services

If you have a team of programmers and designers, you can try to build your own AI-based chatbot or tool. But most small and medium businesses lack access to such expertise. The easier option is to use third-party services that will build and even deploy the chatbot for you. You can also integrate the AI with other support tools like your phone system so customers don’t have to repeat themselves if they switch devices or come back to you later.

Contact voipstudio.com for more information about how conversational AI can help your business grow.

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