Conversational AI: The Road to Recovery from the Pandemic

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Businesses using AI solutions in sales and marketing must consider conversational AI solutions like Intelligent Virtual Assistants to be better positioned for long-term success.

In the last few years, we’ve seen rapid advances in Machine Learning (ML), Natural Language Generation (NLG), and Natural Language Understanding (NLU), creating a perfect environment for new AI applications and services to grow, including the rise of conversational AI solutions that support revenue-generating teams.

With a fifth of large enterprises investing in digital transformation initiatives in the last few months alone, AI technologies have become increasingly popular to drive business success. For example, many organizations already adopted backend technologies such as RPA to automate their systems and services to accomplish tasks associated with accounting, billing management, customer onboarding, and validating data. However, newer advancements use AI to intelligently automate the front office to engage with contacts, prospects, and customers. As a result, revenue-generating teams can focus on the tasks that they’re best suited for, while AI handles other tasks that help teams drive top-line growth. One such AI-driven technology making dramatic changes in sales, marketing, and customer success is an Intelligent Virtual Assistant (IVA), which leverages NLU and NLG to engage contacts in human-like, two-way conversations over multiple channels.

See also: Credible Chatbots Outperform Humans

A more personal interaction

IVAs interpret sentiment and intent and autonomously deliver a proper response to a customer or lead. This is very different from back-office intelligent automation systems, which focus on “machine-to-machine” interactions. For example, let’s say you add a webinar campaign to your CRM, and you want to use an Intelligent Virtual Assistant to follow up with every registrant post-event. The IVA linked to the campaign perceives the associated leads and emails of every attendee to see if they have any questions or are interested in learning more. The IVA engages with those leads to understand which ones are sales-ready, which need nurturing, and which are uninterested or opt-out. The IVA then acts on these decisions, e.g., notifying salespeople about a hot lead. Responses and performance feed into the platform, helping the IVA learn over time.

IVAs provide polite, persistent, and personalized communications and deliver human-like experiences. When automation is AI-powered, it’s smart and intelligent. It can seamlessly move across channels where customers feel the most comfortable, whether through website chat, email, or SMS text.

It should come as no surprise that today’s prospects and customers expect communication on their terms. But delivering timely, personalized responses to every prospective buyer or customer is simply not possible for marketing, sales, and customer success teams strapped for time and resources.

By automating millions of conversational interactions, IVAs can deliver effective messages at a scale which human teams simply cannot do. Better still, this form of front-office automation is intelligent enough to determine what to do and action-oriented enough to carry out that activity.

As millions of employees continue to hunker down in their homes due to the pandemic and companies look for new ways to maximize their workforce and budget, it’s clear that the time for talking about the future of work has passed, and the time for doing it is here. In a recent survey of CEOs. CIOs, and CMOs, we found many businesses that implemented IVAs have been able to provide better customer experience and have seen an increase in job satisfaction among employees.

Staying competitive

Organizations need to refocus and re-strategize their digital transformation initiatives to stay competitive. AI technology and intelligent automation solutions, such as IVAs, stimulate greater workforce productivity and efficiency. Many enterprises facing challenges with headcount and budget restrictions can leverage these solutions to compensate for the loss and augment their workforce to eliminate that problem entirely.

By using an augmented workforce, virtual team members can work to scale and personalize digital communication with customers, helping companies quickly adapt to fluctuations in their business. Whether you’re trying to drive registrations to digital events, qualify low-scoring leads, or reactivate dormant or cold leads, embracing an augmented workforce can help you strategically re-allocate marketing spend into digital programs and campaigns, helping to retain workforce productivity and business continuity.

In 2021, business leaders need to keep their foot on the gas pedal. The impact of COVID-19 on our workforce will be everlasting, but businesses who are already embracing and implementing AI solutions into their sales and marketing strategies need to consider conversational AI solutions like Intelligent Virtual Assistants to be better positioned for long-term success.

Rashmi Vittal

About Rashmi Vittal

Rashmi Vittal is CMO at Conversica. Rashmi brings to Conversica extensive experience in building marketing strategies and teams for both start-ups and large enterprises. Prior to joining Conversica, Rashmi led marketing for SAP Customer Data Cloud after the successful acquisition of Gigya, a customer identity management start-up, where she was responsible for the go-to-market strategy, product marketing, digital, content, communications, and field marketing strategy. Rashmi has held various marketing leadership positions at IBM, Oracle and Neustar. Rashmi holds a Masters of Business Administration from the F.W. Olin Graduate School of Business at Babson College.

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