With the rapid adoption of messaging and artificial intelligence hitting the mainstream, it is ‘go’ time for enterprises to modernize and meet their customers where they want to be met: in mobile chat. Remember what email did to the fax machine? It won’t take long for email to meet a similar plight with messaging usurping its pole position in B2C communications.
In 2016, we saw the rise of chatbots. You couldn’t read a reputable editorial outlet without the term ‘chatbot’ appearing somewhere on the first page. But the hype quickly turned to a sad reality as many bots on Facebook, KiK, WeChat and other platforms failed to deliver on their promise. But then again, what was their promise? Do consumers really want to ‘chat’ with brands and have relatively meaningless ‘conversations’? I say no, and as a result, pragmatic AI is winning the day.
Pragmatic AI is the key to enterprise transformation in 2017 and beyond. It is the idea that machines can interact with humans through messaging conversations to resolve an issue quickly, efficiently and securely. Consumers are busy people. When they need something from a business, they want it immediately. Pragmatic AI doesn’t put you on hold, it doesn’t give you the wrong answer and it is always available – 24/7/365.
So, with this in mind, here are 3 ways enterprises can cut through the hype and modernize for the next generation of consumers:
1. Choosing the right AI
There are two flavors of AI: Open and Pragmatic.
Open AI – like the large-scale cognitive services with high-end AI capabilities – is the kind we’re accustomed to seeing in the headlines. But for the enterprise, this type of AI is often too ambitious to be put to any good use beyond data analytics. It lacks the performance-based capabilities and transactional components that are needed for day-to-day enterprise applications. It is extremely costly and requires a small army of system integrators to install and operate it.
Pragmatic AI, as defined above, works on a functional level. It takes IVR, call center and other scripts to create decision trees, and plugs into various backend APIs to execute a myriad of business processes. From changing passwords, to canceling accounts, binding policies and tracking claims, if a human can do it, Pragmatic AI can do it too.
We see the fallacy around deep learning and open AI catch up with many enterprises who are sometimes six to 12 months in on deployment (after feeling the pressure to adopt AI). These companies see no real solution in sight. Roughly 80% of call center inquiries don’t require cognitive services and deep learning. You have to start small, be practical and use bots that are nimble and functional. If you do this properly, your bots can also proactively engage consumers and replace email and social media as the primary channel for revenue-driving promotions and marketing initiatives.
2. Increasing loyalty by enabling transactions through automation
Enterprises exist in a world filled with a need to serve and deliver on consumer demands. Consumers are transaction-driven – when they want something, they want it instantaneously. So when enterprises expand their communication strategies to explore new channels – such as chatbot-powered messaging – they need to ensure the new channels support an even greater level of functionality than all their other existing channels.
A major problem we’re seeing in the industry is enterprises deploying bots on 3rd-party channels that lack basic transactional functionality – whether that be payment processing, scheduling, file transfer and storage, or authentication. The resulting experience is usually a negative one for both the customer and the enterprise.
The technology exists to support rich customer interactions over messaging. Afterall, it is the next frontier for enterprise communication. Enterprise platforms are meant for enterprises. Social platforms are meant for socializing. Let’s keep business with business and pleasure with pleasure; mixing the two can result in major repudiation and fraud issues through Identity theft.
3. Protecting customer data through an end-to-end solution
Right up there on the ‘mission critical list’ of every CIO is data privacy and protection. Mobile messaging is generating newfound challenges for businesses as consumers flock to apps that are unsecure and can’t support the needs of enterprise communication. This means when businesses add social messaging apps into their communication mix, they can’t provide the functionality for customers to do anything more than merely ‘chat’. The result is poor customer experiences and lost revenue. The same is true for bots. To avoid potential security risks and wasted investment, businesses need to ensure the platform they intend to use meets the desired requirements so they can adequately serve their customers.
Enterprises in the healthcare, financial services and insurance industries face significant challenges in this respect. Whether it is HIPAA, FISMA, FINRA or other, these enterprises need to meet the various state, federal and international regulatory criteria. A poorly devised automation and bot strategy where one vendor’s bots are bolted onto another vendor’s messaging system almost guarantees compliance failure and legal recourse.
Find an end-to-end solution where the automation, messaging, transactions and consumer experiences are all one and the same, built around compliance, privacy, scalability, and security.
Driving customer satisfaction and cost savings for the enterprise
There’s been enough hype about chatbots and AI to make a portion of consumers and enterprises a little disillusioned with the technology’s promise. Skeptics begin to question the practicality of bots. But it’s more a case of a tradesman blaming his tools than the tools letting him down. With a strategic and carefully planned approach to bots and automation, the results can transform any enterprise, driving up NPS and dramatically reducing costs. These are just three examples of how enterprises can launch their own thorough and ROI-driven automation strategies to connect with consumers in new and engaging ways.
This article was originally published on AdWeek360