Conversational AI becoming a favorite goal with automation efforts

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More and more, when customers interact with companies they’re speaking with machines rather than humans, and those interactions are made possible by artificial intelligence in the form of virtual agents.

Research firm Gartner Inc., in a report on the global AI market published earlier this year, said virtual agents allow organizations to reduce labor costs as they take over simple requests and tasks from call centers and help desks, while handing over more complex questions to their human counterparts.

Virtual agents can also provide uplift to revenue, Gartner said, as in the case of robo advisors in financial services or upselling in call centers. As virtual employee assistants, virtual agents can help with calendaring, scheduling, and other administrative tasks, freeing up employees for higher-value work.

As systems integrator and managed services provider Dimensional Data pointed out in a recent report on customer experience trends for 2019, the overall trend of automation is growing, and conversational AI is an area that companies are prioritizing.

The ability to process natural language has become more sophisticated and normalized, the report said. The penetration of voice AI in the consumer sphere with Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home is beginning to transfer to corporate interactions, the company said.

Organizations are using the data generated to understand the context and content of customer interactions, the report sais. It’s enabling them to develop increasingly accurate algorithms and models to drive more effective interactions.

The issue for companies is how to limit risk, Dimensional Data said, and generally they’re mitigating risk by initially using bots alongside live agents. The bots learn from the agents and gradually enhance their productivity, it said, allowing organizations to assess the effectiveness of introducing bots.

“The general strategy is to harmonize human and virtual agents,” the report said.

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