Conversational AI Is Finding Its Voice

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Providing top-tier customer support has never been more critical, and companies with global audiences are looking for any way to improve their multilingual support efforts. While it's difficult to predict the immediate and long-term future, customer service experts know that chatbots and voice play an important role, which will only expand.

Multilingual chatbots are not new in the world of customer service, but advancements in artificial intelligence have significantly impacted their adoption and efficacy. AI-powered chatbots give users quick, easy, and intelligent support on websites and mobile apps 24/7. Their high performance and flexibility have led to their use by some of the biggest global companies.

Also, in the realm of technological advancements, voice-based technology has become essential when thinking about daily life. Whether someone is asking Alexa to turn up the music playing inside the house or asking Siri for an answer to a trivia question, there's a newfound reliance on voice, and companies must take notice or their success with customer support will be limited.

Let's examine how chatbots and voice will work together as the future of multilingual support:

Conversational AI: From ALICE to Siri

In the mid-1960s, MIT computer scientists created ELIZA, the first form of conversational AI. Since its inception, technology employing natural language processing to power interactions between humans and computers has advanced tremendously. The most prominent example of conversational AI today is Siri. On phones and in smart home products, Siri is used in more than 300 million households worldwide. While it has multiple purposes, its function as a customer service tool often comes up short because websites are not optimized for voice search. Over the past several years, website managers have increasingly focused on making web content that can be found and used by voice assistants, but the focus has largely been on English content. For non-English speakers, voice assistants as a conduit to customer service still come up short.

Similarly, if a company's chatbot isn't multilingual, it simply does not fit the bill. According to a CSA Research study, 60 percent of consumers in non-English-speaking countries rarely or never make purchases from English-only sites. That same report revealed that 75 percent want to make purchases in their native languages. This data demonstrates that companies in all industries are now expected to speak in buyers' preferred languages. As a result, multilingual chatbots are in great demand because they can quickly answer questions in any language.

With customers expecting 24/7 assistance from companies, there can be no off-hours for customer service these days. Because chatbots, unlike their human counterparts, don't need to sleep, eat, or have a life outside of work, they can support around-the-clock demand from customers, and so their popularity and usefulness only continue to grow.

Ultimately, multilingual chatbots benefit companies by reaching a wider range of customers than ever before. And they allow these companies to progress beyond competitors whose customer service cannot emulate this tool. With multilingual chatbots, common or easily answered questions can be fielded away from agents regardless of their language, allowing customer service agents to focus on tasks requiring a more human touch. This prioritization allows companies and their employees in the customer service department to increase efficiency and success, no matter the number of members on the team.

It's safe to say that multilingual chatbots improve customer and agent experiences. Using this form of conversational AI, companies will see positive impacts on customer retention , domestic and international sales, and agent retention.

The Cost of Conversational AI

Conversational AI with multilingual chatbots can improve customer service in many ways. But just like anything else, it has its drawbacks.

Adding just one chatbot to a customer service strategy can be highly time- and money-consuming. Eighty-one percent of organizations find training a single chatbot harder than expected because of the required time and resources. On top of that, repeating this process is an even greater challenge, which is why the abandonment rate of multilingual chatbots is 40 percent.

One way to avoid these setbacks is to layer translation technology onto the existing chatbot instead of translating the chatbot into every language needed. This approach allows the chatbot to provide consistent, effective support without the company needing to perform too much work during the setup.

While having text-based support in any language is needed for a multilingual customer service plan, so is offering self-service customer support channels. This is commonly accomplished with chatbots and knowledge base articles. What's the benefit of this tactic? Customers find information that allows them to solve their problems faster, decreasing the number of incoming calls and requests that agents receive.

Because every customer is different, companies should make their customer service strategies multimodal, giving customers what they want: options. Whether it's text, voice, or video, customers want options. They seek buying journeys that feel personalized and customizable to their wants and needs. Demonstrating this variety shows the need for companies to fully commit to voice support just as much as text.

In today's fast-changing marketplace, companies that align their priorities to provide that customizable, multimodal customer support experience will see the most success.

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