One major change due to the pandemic, which may stay here for a long time, is online business and customer interactions. However, a major challenge for companies is to make these virtual interactions more personal. Here are a few ways companies and brands can deliver better personalization and customer experience, writes, Prasad Joshi Senior Vice President and Head Infosys.
COVID-19 has altered countless everyday activities, and these changes that have outlasted the pandemic include how consumers and companies interact with each other. At a time when being around other people in common spaces like malls and stores triggered fear for wellness and well-being, more and more interactions became virtual and showed every sign of staying that way.
These are not without benefits: companies may be able to scale back or even eliminate their physical footprints, which could potentially translate into significant savings in rent and personnel. But it also brings challenges. In a mostly virtual world, how do companies connect at a personal level with their customers, and how do they deliver high-quality customer experience and customer service?Â
Immersive Tech Takes the Remoteness Out of Remote Engagement
One answer emerges from the exciting and rapidly evolving world of immersive technologies. This is to deploy conversational interfaces, personalized smart videos, and artificial intelligence solutions to improve customer service and experience. These tools are the building blocks for deepening connections with customers in ways that can exceed what is possible through human-to-human interaction. Indeed, they portend a new era in customer engagement.Â
There is clear value in embracing these technologies. According to research from McKinseyOpens a new window , three in five consumers prefer at least one activity in an immersive world to its physical alternative.
Personalized, Empathetic, Efficient and Insightful Conversational AI Can Enhance Engagement in Every Industry
Consider the massive upside potential of using hyper-personalized, immersive conversational assistants. These automated tools are increasingly capable of closely replicating human responses and doing so in a way that can enable companies to build more engaging and intuitive experiences with their customers. For instance, the highly popular â€œcookingâ€ chatbot of Whole Foods cleverly allows people to use emojis while searching for recipes to make the experience seem more natural.Â
Even in areas where in-person interaction may still be preferred, there may be no alternative but to use digital technologies to enable service and engagement. An example comes from the world of healthcare, where information must be delivered rapidly, accurately, and often to an aging population. With the shortage of medical workers, such as nursing, medical or home health assistants, crossing 3.2 million within five years in the United States, providing this level of individual care will be nearly impossible. To close the gap, healthcare providers can deploy bots to perform basic caregiver functions, such as reminding patients to take their medication, offering counseling and emotional support, monitoring health parameters and sending an alert in case of a problem.Â
Â The prowess of conversational AI was proven beyond doubt at the height of the COVID-19 crisis. At the U.K. financial institution NatWest, a virtual assistant named Cora did not just provide information but even helped thousands of customers impacted by the pandemic to apply to the bank for deferring their loans, credit cards, and other payments.Â
Â Work is also underway to build bots (chatbots, voice bots, and audio-visual immersive bots) that can replicate human responses in an empathetic and contextual manner. The underlying analytics and machine learning technologies enable these bots to process past data to understand and remember customers’ needs and preferences. At the same time, natural language processing helps them understand the current mood. These capabilities allow the bots to really â€œconnectâ€ with the people they are talking to. National Geographic leveraged these abilities and more by creating a bot whose conversation was modeled on Albert Einstein’s to promote a show called â€œGenius.â€ The bot, which answered professional and even personal queries very humanly, managed to build intimacy with users.Â
Bots are also acquiring impressive personalization skills. Today, they can tailor a problem resolution or service based on an individual’s nature, preferences or behavior. And they can even change the way they speak to suit the audience. For example, they can use a different vocabulary for people of different ages or regions.Â
Â More effective than text, visual tools could potentially take the customer service experience to a higher level. One reason for this is the speed of image processing, which is 600,000 times that of text. The other is that people retain 80% of what they see, as opposed to 20% of what they read. Add personalization to the mix, which results in the engagement of a completely new order. Credit card companies are already on to this. For example, they are using interactive videos to help new customers understand complicated billing statements. By reducing the need to call customer care, the videos are driving customer satisfaction and engagement, reducing call-center costs, and supporting timely bill payments.Â Â
Â Video calls also present opportunities for bots to respond to changes in customer voice tone, facial expression, sentiment, and body language and fetch and share personalized user information in real time while delivering more contextual and precise conversational experiences.
Â That being said, the most valuable customer engagement tool of all may be artificial intelligence. For example, AI-assisted HR processes and productivity tools can convert contact center agents into brand ambassadors. With the help of AI tools, customer interactions for new recruits can enhance preparedness for live calls while accelerating speed to competency. Besides that, knowledge tools can also provide on-the-call guidance and recommend actions that enable agents to delight customers. Agents can use Infosys Cortex to identify learning needs and behavioral changes required for improving performance and skills.
Conversational AI for a Transformed Service Experience
When the best experiences are intuitive, proactive and real-time, customer service can no longer function like it used to, waiting for customers to voice their problems and then trying to resolve them with one-size-fits-all solutions. In a 2021 survey, 58% of respondents said their customer service expectations had increased over the previous year, and a whopping 84% expected quick and accurate resolution. Therefore, customer service needs to leverage available and emerging digital solutions to anticipate customer needs and fulfill them with customized, contextual solutions. While this would root out inefficiency and friction from the service experience, it might make it somewhat impersonal. But now, immersive technologies, such as conversational AI, can provide experiences that are not only personalized but also personal, even empathetic.Â Â
How are you delivering better personalizations and customer experience in your virtual interactions with consumers? Let us know on FacebookOpens a new window , TwitterOpens a new window , and LinkedInOpens a new window .
Image Source: Shutterstock