It’s Time to Re-Frame Our Thinking Around Conversational AI

Contributed article by Stuart Dorman, Chief Innovation Officer, Sabio Group

It’s seven years since Amazon launched its Echo smart speaker, introducing us all to Alexa and taking the virtual assistant mainstream.

Since then, Amazon and Google have shipped over a hundred million speakers, and it’s estimated that there are now over 100,000 ‘skills’ available for Amazon’s Echo alone.

They represented the first idea of a computer whose entire interface was based on voice. Up until this point, our primary interactions with computers were controlled by keyboards, mice and eventually touch – with everything fed back to us through graphical user interfaces (GUIs).

They are clever pieces of technology – but the most basic form of computer; a voice browser with microphone and speakers with all intelligence behind it based on the cloud. Although basic, it was an ingenious way to capture data to train the machine learning algorithms to improve the performance of the speech recognition.

On launch, the ambitions of both Amazon and Google’s devices were absolutely huge. Initial visions were of Star Trek-style ‘all seeing, all knowing’ computers. Our very own Personal Assistant’s helping to organise our lives, controlling our homes and giving us access to whatever we wanted.

But in reality, they failed to reach their full potential – instead being used today to predominantly play music, check the weather, or turn on the odd compatible lightbulb…

So, what’s stopping us from using them to engage more widely? And does our experience of home devices impact how brands address the conversational AI opportunity?
The challenge Amazon and Google had was that they underestimated and understated the complex relationships and domain expertise that was required when interacting with brands; brands that were concerned in the likes of utilities, insurance, travel or any other services that the average person/household needs.

It was just too complicated – it’s a bit like calling my bank to book a holiday. The poor person on the other end of the phone wouldn’t have the knowledge or tools to fulfil my request. The idea that a universal voice assistant could run our homes and our lives was just too ambitious…

Instead of complexity, we want our brand engagement to be quick, easy to understand and simple to conduct. If we’re dealing with an insurance firm, for example, we expect any conversational AI solution to understand what it is that we’re trying to achieve and offer a self-service option when it’s the right thing to do.

Any solution should be able to capture why I’m calling, work out whether my request can be addressed through automation, or connect me with an advisor when the task needs a human touch. We engage with a bank on financial matters, or when we have issues with our power or water we turn to a utility. At no point would we expect an insurance company or a telco company to help us sort out our holidays… 

Technology is no longer a barrier for conversational AI  

The good news is that technology no longer needs to be a barrier when it comes to deploying conversational AI. Speech recognition keeps getting stronger and stronger, indeed we’re now at the stage where we can synthesise speech to sound almost indistinguishable from human. And with AI processing power now doubling every ten weeks, the computing power that’s assigned to training neural nets and AI engines is becoming more and more accessible. 

This is driving both performance increases and cost reductions, enabling organisations to broaden out their speech AI capabilities and making it possible for CX teams to capture conversations from voice, video and text – wherever they take place in the customer journey. Capturing all these conversations digitally allows brands to unlock new insights and extract value from the data, particularly in the customer service world where conversational AIs can now be trained to become real experts in their specific fields or sectors. 

Building conversational AI with deep, sector-specific context  

Instead of attempting to be a universal assistant, the goal for conversational AI solutions across customer journeys is for them to become real experts in their own field. Effective use of intent capture and analysis techniques will give your AI precise insight into just why your customers are getting in touch. Speech AI solutions can then be trained in detail, with further content and expertise added as new customer issues and topics are raised. 

This will see conversational AI move beyond the first wave of AI-powered voice and chatbot solutions. These tended to replace somewhat clunky IVR systems, and have generally been highly successful with many succeeding in automating between
30-40% of interactions. However, these solutions have often been standalone leading to silo-ed customer data that has been hard to integrate with other parts of the customer journey. 

Moving towards a second wave of conversational AI  

We expect the second wave of speech AI to be much more far-reaching, embedding natural language understanding and AI and automation capabilities across a broader range of applications. Conversational AI and voice recognition will increasingly be used to support CRM and mobile apps, as well as for contact centre advisor support where the AI can listen to conversations, advise on compliance, recommend relevant knowledge articles and give advisors help where it’s needed.

This kind of real-time guidance, backed up by powerful analytics tools and capabilities such as sentiment analysis will help conversational AI deliver consistent, high-quality experiences across extended customer journeys.

To learn more about conversational AI and how you can transform your customer journeys with Automation and AI, download our AI & Automation ebook.

About Sabio Group 

Sabio Group is a global digital customer experience (CX) transformation specialist with major operations in the UK (England and Scotland), Spain, France, Netherlands, Malaysia, Singapore, South Africa and India. 

The Group, which includes ‘makepositive’, delivers solutions and services that seamlessly combine digital and human interactions to support outstanding customer experiences. 

Through its own technology, and that of world-class technology leaders such as Amazon Connect, Avaya, Genesys, Google Cloud, Salesforce, Twilio and Verint, Sabio helps organisations optimise their customer journeys by making better decisions across their multiple contact channels.  

The Group works with major brands worldwide, including Aegon, AXA Assistance, BBVA, BGL, Caixabank, DHL, loveholidays, Marks & Spencer, Rentokil, Essent, GovTech, HomeServe, Saga, Sainsbury’s Argos, Telefónica and Transcom Worldwide.  

How Customer Experience & Marketing Goes Side By Side?

Contributed article by Harmanpreet Kaur, Outreach Specialist at Knowmax  

Businesses and organizations—public and private—across all industries and regions are focusing intensely on customer experience (CX). Why would taking the voice of the customer seriously have such a significant impact?  

The answer is simple: competition. Almost every market is overflowing with products fighting for a piece of the action. A satisfying customer experience that considers the emotional aspect of a customer’s interaction with a business can greatly differentiate your offerings from those of your competitors.

You must consider a number of factors when creating a holistic customer experience for your brand, including mapping customer journeys, choosing the appropriate CX KPIs, and even employee experience. We have set up a guide to support you in creating the finest CX possible. Here’s what you need to keep in mind:

What is customer experience?

Every interaction a customer has with a business, at any point in the customer journey, is referred to as the “customer experience,” which is concerned with the relationship between a company and its customers. A consumer’s perception of their interactions with a business is called their customer experience. 

Customer experience is about being there for the customer whenever and wherever they need you, while also making it easy and consistent for them. Additionally, it means making each engagement with the business memorable and significant. It is relational, not transactional. 

It examines the customer’s lifecycle and maps each and every interaction the client has with you. It draws attention to the areas where you’re providing a great experience and creating advocacy. And when you give customers a horrible experience, customers will turn to competitors.

Why is the customer experience such a crucial factor?

Providing excellent customer service is crucial for any organization. The more satisfied consumers you have, the more repeat business you’ll get, the more wonderful reviews you’ll get, and the less friction there will be with returns and complaints. 

Providing excellent CX has several advantages, including 

  • better customer loyalty.
  • enhanced customer satisfaction.
  • improved word-of-mouth advertising.
  • positive feedback and suggestions. 

The customer experience can be improved for all business models, including subscription firms that may boost retention and decrease loss, e-commerce platforms that can increase recurring business and decrease returns, and service sectors that can gain recommendations and reduce complaints.

Why marketing and customer service should work together

Customers see your entire business as providing excellent customer service, not just one section.

When treated well, satisfied consumers are your brand’s biggest protectors. They promote your brand positively and offer online reviews, which describe your brand experience.

You need these groups to collaborate, and here are some reasons why. 

  • Send a brief message. You can get direct client feedback from your customer service team. Understanding consumers’ purchasing motivations, primary advantages, and challenges they experience can help marketers significantly.
  • Over time, the loyalty of your current customers should be raised. Every business relies on customer loyalty; otherwise, it would have to add more consumers in order to stay neutral.  

But how can they accomplish that? Here, we’ll discuss practical marketing tactics for providing a superior client experience.

1. Improve the onboarding process 

To guide the customer onboarding process and send the right messages at the right times, use contextual targeting approaches.

But lack of efficient approaches, ineffective onboarding processes, etc., have become the most common friction points in the customer onboarding journey.

Reducing these friction points is your main objective. Anything that falls short of prior expectations or leads to buyers regret qualifies. Friction causes you to lose the hard-earned lifetime value of your customers. 

Your onboarding materials, or even landing pages, should include FAQs about relevant customer service requirements. Alternatively, you may write a guide to help users use your product. A welcome video can encourage customers to be enthusiastic about utilizing your service or product.

Also, to streamline the onboarding process, a centralized knowledge base can be created by an organization for a better experience.

2. Communicate in a clear, consistent manner 

One of the most critical areas to support your support staff  is content marketing. Along the client journey, you might notice that a lot of queries center around product features. These inquiries should be addressed by marketing long before they develop into leads.

Create your marketing initiatives with clear, consistent messaging in mind. Customers should understand what you expect them to gain from your product. If you’re having a promotion, be sure to explain the terms of the offer. By filling in these gaps now, you can avoid eventual customer service issues and unhappiness.

Regardless of how customers choose to contact you, provide a consistent brand experience by using an omnichannel platform. At least once a year, review your outbound email templates and related documentation.

3. Make a positive learning environment 

Create a learning center as your first step in improving your customer experience. For each issue, evaluate the volume of queries and the effect on the customer experience. Meet once a month to choose new subjects to include in the knowledge base.

Customers, in most cases, first go to a customer self-service portal. Give your marketing team access to the recordings of your sales or support calls to get the most out of this CX strategy. Access to support tickets and account research in your CRM is also included.

Use the precise language that your target audience uses for this method to succeed. It helps content producers create content that appeals to their audience.

4. Boost client loyalty with social media 

One of the first places that clients go for assistance now is social media. According to a Facebook survey, 64% of people prefer messaging a company over other options.

Customers want top-notch customer service. All parties will be informed thanks to a unified customer management platform.

Therefore, it makes sense that you should incorporate social media into your customer service initiatives. Eliminate the silos created by the new marketing channels and offer world-class service to all.


Through such experiences, customers become exposed to a much better higher degree of service through such experiences. As a result, the formulation of expectations is greatly influenced by individual consumer experience. The proper structures, individuals, and technology foundation must come together in a community in order to create an emotional connection with customers.

Author Bio 

Harmanpreet Kaur is an outreach specialist at Knowmax for the past 4 months. Apart from this, she also has a knack for content creation. Apart from this, she also has a knack for content creation. She manages everyday marketing operations, such as outreaching relevant websites, getting content published, and working on various content pieces. She enjoys drawing and reading in her spare time, aside from work.