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Customer Conversations with Messaging and AI

Customer Conversations: Messaging and AI have Come Up Trumps

Paul Sweeney | Chief Strategy Officer

As will now be apparent to anybody with an ear to the ground, something important is happening in the world of customer communication.

An earlier version of this blog was published at the beginning of Webio’s journey in 2016. It is interesting to see how conversational AI tech has grown and how the advent of generative AI, and more specifically ChatGPT, has piqued the interest in this technology. (See: What is the Difference between Conversational AI and Generative AI?)   

The Mobile Moat Surrounding Customers  

 Customers don’t want to make or take phone calls, and they don’t want to be your friend on Facebook.  A “mobile moat” surrounds your customer and there is only one way across it.  You have to be invited.    

The customer has to choose to connect and more and more they are choosing to do so through mobile messaging. (For more, see: Digital Channels at Webio)   

A Fundamental Shift in Customer Engagement – Welcome to Conversational Messaging 

Enterprises need to step up and address this shift in how customers want to interact, which is more than just a shift in communications channels but is part of a deeper self-service and customer empowerment movement with significant implications for customer care and contact centres.     

With cloud platforms it’s now no longer a question of getting better inbound or outbound messaging capability. It’s about having better conversations and of giving customers control of that conversation.    

As a customer it’s about being in a conversation where the other person knows you so well that they finish your sentence for you, they knew exactly what choice to put in front of you, and it’s as simple and magical as using an Uber.   

The secret to success in digital customer conversations is to turn messaging in conversations.   

how ai chatbots work 


It’s all about Connecting 
 

The basic function of the Internet is to connect.  It’s just that we are connecting to more things, connecting more of ourselves, and connecting more to each other.     

Since more people, groups, companies and services are making demands on our time, it is inevitable that the patterns of notification, messaging, and interaction are changing.    

Where we are communicating is changing: digital messaging apps lead the way   

When I message a friend it’s more likely to be over WhatsApp, or Messenger than over SMS.  When I want to share a picture with my family, I share it to my WhatsApp group, not Facebook anymore. Messaging apps have become our own private, micro social network   

We are connected to more devices and need a new conversational interface    

We have clusters of devices, across multiple networks. Take for instance wearable tech that detects our heart-rates and tracks our movements.  Soon we will have data from our cars, our houses, and our workplaces to “integrate” into our lives.  All these services not only produce data, but they want to communicate with us in some way, and we want to communicate with them.  We need a new conversational interface to achieve this.  

We have conversations with ourselves and other services    

We ask questions to understand our lives better, such as “when do I tend to sit for more than three hours at a time”?  We also interact with services that help us manage ourselves and our relations with others.  For instance, we may ask a service to give us a simple notification if an elderly parent is sitting for too long.  We ask questions and make requests from the services in our life.   

We connect with services where we expect the service to tell us things proactively   

In a way these services sit in the background and only “nudge us” when they think it’s important or when it’s relevant.  For example, we may ask a fintech service to alert us if it looks like our spending is going to cause us to miss a savings target.  These are examples of “predictive conversations”.   

Mobile phones are the “things” we carry, but it’s AI that commands our attention

Services such as the Google Inbox automatically decide which messages should go to our inbox and which should be labelled “Promotions” or “Notifications”.  Our communications are already being mediated by intelligent services.  Soon, all the interactions between people, groups and companies will involve two-way mediation between intelligent services.   

“Just tell me” is becoming” just do it” - AI is at your command    

Based on an understanding of our intentions and our preferences when we ask these services questions, when we converse with them, we often want to authorise them to perform an action as well.  “Find me a taxi”, becomes “Book me a taxi”. Experiences such as Halo and Uber reset the bar in terms of ease of use, and frankly, it feels magical.   

Conclusion 

The way we are interacting with the world around us has become too noisy.  Conversations in our messaging is where customers are choosing to solve this problem and conversational AI is making this possible.  Now with the widespread availability of cloud platforms, artificial intelligence and the cultural move to messaging platforms, it is truly possible to bring these conversational designs to life.    

 

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