We’ve all experienced the exasperation of navigating automated phone systems, desperately pleading to speak to a human representative to address our issues. It’s a common frustration and one that reveals a pivotal challenge in the realm of customer support. 

Despite the proliferation of self-service solutions, there’s a significant gap in customer acceptance as many customers remain hesitant to embrace the technology. For example, almost 30% of people are not interested at all in interacting with self-service chatbots.

However, advanced language models have paved the way for a more intelligent, permissive AI-powered version of these automated phone systems. Through a realistic conversation model and its myriad business benefits, advanced conversational AI is challenging customer preconceptions. This technology is steering the trajectory of the voice CX market in a promising direction.

Why are customers hesitant to trust AI?

Implementing conversational AI for your business will help boost your bottom line. But how can you present conversational AI (for example, a customer-led voice assistant) as an ally for your target audience and demonstrate its effectiveness in issue resolution? The answer is simple: earn their trust.

The first step to building trust in conversational AI is understanding customer reluctance. Many individuals are still skeptical about entrusting their concerns to AI, especially when seeking solutions to complex problems. Customers may think AI isn’t sophisticated enough to resolve their issues. 

A big contributor to these frustrations? Traditional customer self-service channels, from FAQ web pages to chatbots, have fallen short in delivering actionable assistance, partly because these legacy systems rely on the customers providing specific keywords to drive conversations forward.

Despite organisations’ substantial investments in customer self-service, only 9% of queries are fully resolved digitally, leading 71% of customers to prefer phone calls even for easily addressable issues. These inadequacies have perpetuated the notion that the only true path to resolution comes from human interaction. And the path to a human is repeating “representative!” to a traditional interactive voice response (IVR) system. But, effective deployment of an intelligent voice assistant can change that. 

Conversational AI to the rescue

To truly revolutionise the customer support paradigm, businesses must embrace the changing technological tides and work to build trust with intelligent voice assistants. Businesses adopting next-gen conversational AI tools can expect to see benefits such as:

  • Call volume control. Since effectively trained voice assistants can answer many frequently asked questions, live agents’ call volumes will decrease. This drop in agent demand is especially crucial during peak times when call volume dramatically rises. Conversational AI can help manage this influx while reducing temporary staff needs.
  • Improved customer experiences. With intelligent voice assistants’ 24/7/365 accessibility, customer support is always available, alleviating the burden on live agents. Reduced call volumes decrease wait times, freeing live agents to address more complicated calls that the AI can’t resolve.
  • Reduced live agent attrition. Improved customer experiences mean happier, less frustrated customers more likely to treat agents respectfully. Agents who are satisfied with their work are more likely to stay in their jobs and take on more sophisticated roles as the need for an internal AI competency center arises. Improved agent retention reduces costs and results in a more deeply tenured, knowledgeable workforce.
  • Data-backed operational decisions. Organisations implementing conversational AI assistants gain access to a wealth of structured data. This offers insights into reasons for customer calls, call time and length, increases in specific questions and demand for products and services. Companies can use this information to drive operational improvements and improve the customer experience.

Conversational AI’s advantages support time and cost savings. But the real key to unlocking their potential is convincing customers the technology will help solve their problems. 

Creating winning experiences with conversational AI

Rather than restricting customers to keywords, customer-led voice assistants powered by conversational AI allow callers to speak freely. Sophisticated speech recognition technology is optimised for spoken language so the voice assistant can listen, understand and respond to calls no matter how customers pose their queries. This includes accounting for heavy regional accents, use of slang or colloquial terms, permitting for pauses and brief silences, filtering out background noise and “understanding” when multiple questions are being asked. Allowing customers to speak naturally helps foster trust and confidence in the voice assistant. As well as the assistant’s ability to provide the best possible outcomes throughout conversations further validates that confidence. 

Here are best practices to follow if you’re implementing a conversational AI voice assistant:

  • Adopt conversational AI technology that uses a Natural Language Understanding (NLU) model to understand caller intent. Alongside its use, consider the technology’s potential biases and work toward mitigating them.
  • Use your data to personalise customer calls. This will provide additional context and speed up problem resolution. Doing this will provide the best customer experience possible. 
  • Get feedback to find opportunities to improve your voice assistants. Have your voice assistants ask if the caller was satisfied with their conversation, and incorporate the answers into further developing the AI voice assistant.

When callers hear an automated voice in the contact centre, many are skeptical that a nonhuman can resolve their problem. Ultimately, however, people want answers and 40% don’t care who provides them. As such, successfully earning customer trust through effectively deploying next-gen conversational AI means a smoother experience for all as well as a higher rate of resolution.

The landscape of customer support is at a critical juncture. It is poised for transformation through the capabilities of conversational and generative AI. By understanding the roots of customer skepticism, appreciating the importance of conversational quality and gaining insight into the evolving voice CX technology market, businesses can facilitate a future where AI-driven interactions are not just accepted, but preferred by customers. As we bid adieu to the frustration of shouting at automated systems, we usher in an era of seamless human conversations. These will redefine the way we address issues and seek assistance. And probably best of all, no more hold music. Ever.

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