In the past two years, some of the world’s biggest companies have started experimenting with artificial intelligence (AI)-powered technologies. They were mostly driven by the curiosity factor, as well as the prospect of being able to spur growth, cut some major costs, and get a head start on their competitors.
According to a large US-based survey, more than 80% of companies that jumped on the AI bandwagon early saw a substantial return on their investment. It is thus no surprise that AI is the one technological trend that will continue to dominate business in 2019, especially in the area of customer experience.
If you plan to invest in machine learning and AI this year, the only way to achieve your desired results is to understand exactly what this technology can do for your business.Let’s take a look atsix AI trends most likely to impact your business in 2019.
1. Chatbots Are Going Mainstream
Until now, only a few companies dared to seriously experiment with chatbots. Those that did, however, saw great results. For example, Amtrak introduced “Ask Julie”, a virtual assistant that allows users to quickly look up train schedules and book tickets. In just one year, Julie has managed to save the company $1 million dollars on customer support, while also boosting their revenue per booking by 30%.
Prompted by this and other success stories, chatbots are more than likely to go mainstream in 2019, with almost 40% of companiesalready actively using them to optimize their customer support. This is by no means a surprise as most businesses are looking to cut costs and chatbots will allow them just that. Setting up a chatbot is not only more cost-effective than hiring a live representative but also more efficient, seeing as today’s chatbots can serve up to several hundred users at the same time.
2. Vertical Chatbots Will Prevail
In this digital era, consumers value convenience and customization above all, which is why we’re likely to see an increased interest in vertical chatbots. As their name suggests, rather than being able to perform many different tasks with varying degrees of success, vertical bots are programmed to carry out very specific vertical tasks with utmost accuracy. For example, the aforementioned Julie, which helps people book train tickets, orPlanned Parenthood’s Roo, which answers young people’s sex-related questions.
This year, vertical chatbots are bound to become all the rage in industries like financial services and retail. Not only will this be beneficial for customers but businesses as well, seeing as it will help boost their Customer Satisfaction Score (CSAT) and Net Promoter Score (NPS). In addition, vertical chatbots don’t cost that much to develop and they’re certainly more affordable than horizontal chatbot solutions.
3. Some Chatbots Will Have Feelings
For several years now, brands have struggled to build and nurture human connections with customers. Needless to say, these automated, chatbot-facilitated interactions aren’t doing much to improve the situation. However, things are bound to change in 2019 with the implementation of emotional bots.
These “chatbots with feelings” are equipped with emotional intelligence technology that allows them to gauge users’ feelings throughout the interaction. Furthermore, the bots are programmed to respond to thesefeelings in an appropriate way. For example, if a chatbot detects that a customer is frustrated, they will still provide them with all the relevant information, but they’ll deliver it in a more empathetic way. This, in turn, helps to ensure that the customer’s experience is positive despite their complaints.
4. Customer Experience Will Be Measured in a Whole New Way
Speaking of customer experience, predictive analytics, customized recommendations, and campaign optimization facilitated by AI technologies will no doubt contribute to its noticeable improvement in 2019. At the same time, this year will mark a major shift in the way in which we measure customer experience in the first place. Namely, the Average Handle Time (AHT) – which has long been used to measure the full duration of a call – will be gradually phased out in favor of a brand new metric.
TCIT, or Total Customer Interaction Time, will be used to measure the exact time that passes from the moment a customer initiates a conversation to the moment it is successfully completed. If a chatbot is involved in the interaction, businesses will also use Net User Satisfaction (NSAT), Microsoft’s evaluation tool that prompts the user to rate their satisfaction level by choosing from a list of four options (Very Satisfied, Somewhat Satisfied, Somewhat Dissatisfied, and Very Dissatisfied).
5. Everything Will Be Personalized
Personalization has long been the online standard (e.g. personalized recommendations on Netflix or personalized playlists on Spotify) and artificial intelligence will only contribute to this trend. 2019 will mark the end of the era or personalization and usher is into the era of hyper-personalization. Of course, to enable AI to personalize services for each individual customer, businesses will have to take steps to map their customers’ journeys and gather insight into their habits, interests, and interactions.
In addition to this, chatbots will also “learn” to address customers differently based on some of their characteristics. For example, chatbots will interact differently with people of different ages and be programmed to speak different languages and/or dialects based on the customer’s location.
6. Virtual Assistants Will Persevere
Popular virtual assistants like OK Google and Amazon’s Alexa will continue to grow in 2019. In fact, industry experts predict that the market of virtual assistant-enabled wireless speakers will exceed $3 billion by 2021. Despite the unprecedented growth, this technology still won’t reach its full potential in 2019 – at least not in terms of functionality. Instead, people will continue to use smart speakers mostly to perform simple tasks, such as playing music, checking the weather, or looking upinformation online.
In the coming months, more and more businesses will also start relegating some of their tasks to virtual assistants in order to streamline their work process and increase productivity. This will be the case with small business and startups in particular, as they typically don’t have the resources nor capacity to hire extra employees and their owners don’t have enough time to handle all aspects of the work themselves.
If you want to future-proof your business, 2019 is an excellent time to start integrating artificial intelligence into your work process. Whether you’re looking to optimize your customer service, improve customer experience, or improve the productivity of your staff by outsourcing some smaller tasks, AI can help you achieve all that – and then some. What’s more, AI can help you cut unnecessary costs, thus allowing you to use the spare funds for something that will be more beneficial for your organization.