Of all the new technologies around today, the one that is getting the most attention is AI, especially conversational AI, with the likes of ChatGPT hitting the scene.
AI has been around for over 65 years, but it is only recently that we have been able to harness it. We have more computer power, more data and more companies willing to invest. Just about every large tech company is investing in AI now - OpenAI with ChatGPT, Meta with LLaMA and Google with Bard, to name just a few.
What is all the fuss about generative AI and conversational AI? Computers can now hold natural sounding and useful conversations with humans.
The rapid and extensive take-up of ChatGPT (1 million users in 5 days; 100 million in 2 months) demonstrates just how real and present AI is becoming and gives us a glimpse into how our lives will be impacted, not only on a personal level but also on a business level. The world is ready to embrace AI.
The concept of AI chatbots replacing human contact centre agents and eliminating large chunks of their workload is not new. There are over 1 million people employed in contact centres in the UK that are having millions of daily customer conversations. Virtual agents, Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing and seamless conversational texting have already started to have an impact on how contact centres are engaging.
The nature of the business and how they reach out to customers and let customers engage with them is changing and this seismic shift is one that cannot be ignored. Every business must sit up, take note, and most of all, act to ensure that their business adapts and prospers in this new AI-driven world.
WillRobotsTakeMyJob.com predicts that 55% of existing Customer Service reps will be automates in the future. This level of automation sounds shocking, but looking at the latest tech roadshows, the figure is a lot more understandable now than it was a few years ago.
The world of collections and recoveries won’t let this new wave of AI and high levels of automation pass them by.
The role of human agents is changing
Agents are becoming more skilled and their role focused primarily on complex negotiations and organising arrangements with customers rather than on low value routine customer engagements.
Why have your agents conduct simple ID&V authentications, spend valuable time with I&E questionnaires, or continuously chase, chase, chase customers. AI has arrived and it is having a positive impact on the effectiveness of the business to engage with non-responsive customers and improve the nature and way they engage with customers who do engage.
Collections metrics head in the right direction
We have seen this first hand. Some of our clients who have embraced AI technology have up to 75% of a collections conversation automated through AI chatbots and have seen collections increase by 10% - among other successes.
Complimenting this AI adoption is the way we all communicate with each other and the different channels we use with a shift to using messaging apps. Messenger and WhatsApp, the two biggest players in the UK and EU, generate more than 10 billion messages a day. These two channels alone have a global reach of over 3.4 billion. Just think about that figure; it is astonishing. And that figure is only going to rise.
This move to person-to-person messaging has led to businesses playing catch up. More and more companies are acknowledging that the customer communications landscape has changed and that they need to engage with their customer in these new channels.
The benefits are immediately visible from a consumer’s point of view: “ease of use drives adoption”, and done well, this can be a great customer experience with instantaneous access and responses to queries, questions or conducting transactions.
On the other side are the benefits to the business. Let’s start with the increased levels of customer engagement all the way through to the huge efficiencies and ability to scale without being restricted by existing agent to customer ratios.
Understanding customers in real-time is one of the lesser talked about benefits of conversational AI. It is the ability to understand customers during ‘live’ conversations, and in-turn to proactively steer all conversations down a path that will result in positive end results for both the business and customer.
An example of this is Webio's Propensity Studio – a prediction engine that uses the customers propensity along with its understanding of “the conversation” to identify when and how to interact with each individual customer.
In simple terms, Propensity Studio can predict within three utterances of a conversation the likelihood of a particular business outcome. The accuracy rate is circa 80%, and with more data and machine learning, this rate will increase. So, what does this mean for the business? This allows companies to design better conversation flows and better use existing resources when and where needed. An example would be identifying customer issues like vulnerability and routing conversations to the right skilled agents.
Everyone has their mobile on hand most of the time and we have come to expect to do things immediately and by ourselves. So it is a logical step to provide your customers with options like self-service portals where they can manage their debts themselves.
The future is now. AI is shaping the way we live and how we are going to live. For some this is exciting and for others a little scary. No matter which side of the fence you are on, now is the time to stop and think how AI will impact your business and your customers.