•Why Conversational AI now leads customer service revolution —Inderpal

By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor

In the 1940s, when digital computers were developed, it was clearly demonstrated that computers can be programmed to carry out very complex tasks. However, it was also dependent on the ability of the programmer to determine the extent that can happen, hence the phrase and digital jargon, ‘garbage in, garbage out.’

Not at any time was it envisaged that something else, not even a machine, could come up to completely perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings.

That is exactly the magic Artificial Intelligence, AI has come to perform. Artificial Intelligence is developed systems created with the intellectual processes akin to that of humans, such that they have the ability to reason, discover meaning, generalise, or learn from past experience. 

AI has changed several roles such as using self-checkouts, ATMs, and customer support chatbots.

However, the goal is not to scare people, but to highlight the fact that technology is constantly altering lives and executing activities to replace the human workforce. At the same time, technological advancements are producing new career prospects. AI is predicted to increase the demand for professionals, particularly in robotics and software engineering.

AI has also seen to the growth of businesses by the new model of interactive customer relationships it engenders.

Today, every Nigerian company is trying to identify newer ways to boost consumer engagement and profitability to align with changes in consumer behaviour.

For example, more and more consumers are spending time on their mobiles – using messaging apps such as WhatsApp and SMS, as well as searching what they want, on Google and Maps.

As a result, businesses are adopting a variety of technologies to reimagine customer experience and business-to-consumer communication. Many businesses are now engaging with customers via WhatsApp, Short Messaging Services, SMS, and Google Search.

This has led to an uptick in brands’ influencer marketing, social media/messaging channel outreach, email marketing, and personalisation of products and services.

EVP Telecom Business, Gupshup, Dr Inderpal Singh Mumick, said: The challenge now becomes how to develop a one stop shop concept that will catch up with users and get them to patronise a brand.

For him, Conversational AI is the technology that enables computers to connect and engage with people using natural language – think of it as simulating a human conversation.

He said: “Using conversational AI, computers will understand and process natural language inputs and respond in a natural, intuitive, human-like manner. Businesses typically use a conversational AI platform to connect with consumers in real-time on popular messaging, voice and video channels, via chatbots. Consumers can pose questions, complete a purchase, or even avail service and support via WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Android Messages, and other frequently used social media and messaging channels. As a result, for consumers, engaging with a brand feels more like a human conversation instead of a business transaction.

“Brands can engage with customers anytime, anywhere, and across any channel using conversational AI solutions.”

He listed advantages of conversational AI for brands to include the ability to drive personalisation at scale and make every engagement truly interactive, contextual and time bound.

For him, this helps businesses generate more revenue through faster conversions and repeat purchases.

He said his company; Gupshup was created with the goal of helping businesses and consumers connect with each other through meaningful two-way conversations. “Today, we are a leading global provider of conversational engagement solutions, powering over 9 billion messages every month. And businesses view Gupshup as the full-stack conversational engagement platform, with solutions for conversational marketing, commerce and service/support. Through popular messaging channels such as WhatsApp, RCS, Business Messages, Facebook, SMS, Instagram, and others, brands use our enterprise-grade conversational engagement platform to engage and communicate one-on-one with consumers”.

Since the onset of the pandemic, consumers are demanding greater empathy, more personalization and transparency from brands. They want frictionless, personalized experiences at every stage of their engagement with brands, and are even willing to pay a premium for a great experience. However, delivering this to millions of consumers is a challenge of scale, and Inderpal says conversational AI solutions can help brands tackle this.

“Using AI-enabled conversational engagement solutions, brands can talk with customers rather than talking at them. This helps build a one on one and trusted relationship with consum2ers vis-à-vis a broadcast approach. So, for consumers like you and me, it feels like information are delivered to us in a far more personal and highly relevant manner” he added.

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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.