Customers love voice and chat assistants, the conversational interfaces that turn on the lights, help home chefs cook an egg to perfection, and make it easy for consumers to research and buy goods online. However, while customers are already building strong relationships with these conversational assistants, retailers are still learning how to best use conversational bots to drive engagement and strengthen their customer relationships. Nonetheless, these conversational assistants represent a fantastic opportunity for retailers to humanize their interactions with customers at scale, as long as it's done with proper understanding of what it takes to engage with customers and how to deploy voice and chat to drive growth and return in 2020. Conversational interfaces fall into two categories: voice and chat. Voice assistants are mediums that can be accessed through voice commands on a smart speaker or smartphone application.
Virtual assistants--like Alexa and Siri--have gained traction in the consumer environment and are likely to continue to spur an uptick in voice-activated search and other customer activities, from purchases to providing feedback to seeking service and support. In short, voice technology can aid consumers at many points along the customer journey. "Digital customer care is on a major upswing with the expectation that 85% of customer relationships with an enterprise will be managed without human contact by 2020, according to Gartner," says Chris Bergh, CEO of DataKitchen Inc., a DataOps consultancy and platform provider. "Conversational AI is critical and plays an integral role in improving customer service, reducing agent-assisted service costs, and cutting down on fraud." Unfortunately, consumer expectations may outpace technological reality at this point, challenging both brands and tech vendors to meet those expectations.
The human touch apparently doesn't mean as much as it once did. A new report says consumers are rapidly embracing automated assistants as the underlying technology becomes more powerful. The Capgemini Research Institute today released a report titled: "Smart Talk: How organizations and consumers are embracing voice and chat assistants." While the technology still faces challenges, the report paints a generally rosy picture and concludes that users increasingly prefer voice and chat assistants to humans. "This research establishes that conversational assistants are the future of customer interactions, valued by consumers for their convenience and by companies for the operational efficiencies they enable," said Mark Taylor, head of customer engagement at Capgemini Invent, in a statement accompanying the report.
What is the first thing that comes to a human's mind when we plan to do any of the following? But are we having these conversations anymore, or are we turning to our smart devices instantly? A shift in traditional human behaviour is the biggest driving force behind digitally led intuitive customer experiences. Even before we were so heavily dependent on tech, relationships were built for life. Technology has sure made our lives simpler, but it has also taken away the human element away from some of these relationships.
By the end of 2021, more than 1.6 billion people will use voice assistants on a regular basis, and it is certain they will want to do more than ask about the weather or hear their favourite song. Such assistants will provide retailers with an unprecedented opportunity as consumers use them to find, research and buy products. For this reason, exploring how voice assistants can improve the customer experience is a core focus for many retailers right now. Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) is powering voice technology systems and be it Alexa, Siri or Google Home, these platforms are enabling customers to interact with brands in ways that are not only convenient but also highly personalised and contextualised. In a conversational AI world, virtual assistants will search, open, fetch, command and engage the dozen or more websites, portals, apps and systems we all interact with daily.