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With the conversational AI space expected to reach $15.7 billion by 2024—up from $4.2 billion in 2019—there’s never been a better time to invest in your company’s conversational marketing efforts.
Conversational experiences as a whole are going to continue to evolve and become more sophisticated in the coming years. Because of that, bots will also evolve to have more advanced capabilities and take on bigger and more important roles in the lives of businesses and consumers.
To help illustrate this shift, we’ve enlisted the help of five experts to share their thoughts and opinions about what conversational marketing trends your business should be aware of in the near future.
Bots are often built with the singular agenda of serving a customer support use case. Many modern bots handle basic customer support tasks, such as initiating returns or offering order status updates, with relative ease. But as conversational AI interfaces become more advanced, so will a bot’s scope of duties.
Anand Janefalkar, founder and CEO of UJET, anticipates “an evolution from simple virtual assistants to truly digital employees serving as the primary user interface across sales, marketing, IT, and customer service tools.”
He also says these “digital employees” will not only serve as conversational tools for self-service, but they’ll also begin working across enterprises to facilitate dialogue-driven decision making and task execution. The customer insights bots will have can help marketing and sales efforts target potential customers better or even help IT personnel automate processes.
The bottom line: Companies need to shift their mentalities to see bots as extensions of their marketing and sales teams, not just their support team. They need to understand that this new wave of “digital employees” will come with more advanced capabilities that can help marketers complete more complex tasks such as email automation or surveying customers about product experiences.
A lot of current conversational marketing experiences lean on interactions with bots that don’t always flow in a natural way. As conversational AI interfaces become more advanced, bot conversations will adapt more human-like mannerisms to engage customers better.
“There will be a huge increase in the human-like nature of responses and conversations,” says May Habib, CEO and co-founder of Writer. “Right now, most of the ‘conversation’ is this-or-that logic that is programmed by the company or brand. Thanks to advancements like OpenAI’s GPT-3 and content governance tools like ours, companies will feel a lot safer giving bots more freedom to ad-lib.”
Habib also predicts that, in the very near future, bots will even be able to feed an AI program a list of articles. The bot will be able to parse through them to find answers to any number of questions, not just the ones programmed in the logic. This can help bots provide more in-depth answers and insights that haven’t been addressed directly by script creators.
Moving beyond the this-or-that logic behind a lot of current bots, Alexey Aylarov, CEO and co-founder of Voximplant, also believes that technological advancements in AI interfaces will make bots more distinct in how they interact. Creating custom voices for text-to-speech (TTS) will become easier, according to Aylarov.
The bottom line: Stiff, robotic bot conversations can lead to customer frustration and often cause more problems than they solve. Finding an appropriate voice and tone for your conversational experiences will help with engaging customers and accurately representing your brand.
The pandemic has led many businesses to recognize how important it is to show compassion and empathy. That notion will extend beyond live employees and reach bots as well. Bots that can’t communicate in a way that sympathizes with a particular situation will become increasingly few and far between.
Cathy Gao, partner at Sapphire Ventures, explains: “Human empathy is critical, and chatbots and virtual agents will not only have to understand intent, but be able to express compassion—a tall order certainly, but the technology is quickly moving there.”
That technology, Aylarov says, may come in the form of more advanced emotion and sentiment analysis. Bots that interact with users through voice, for example, will be able to pick up on different tones and inclinations to understand how that person is talking to them. This technology can help bots get a better sense of whether a user may be sad or angry, and they can respond accordingly based on those emotions.
The bottom line: Bots that can empathize with customers on different pain points will provide a better overall conversational experience. For businesses, creating bot scripts that consider a wide array of customer issues and tones will need to be at the forefront of chatbot integration.
Conversational AI has been key to offering more personalized customer experiences in recent years. This trend will continue to be a key factor for brands to build long-term relationships with customers.
“Demonstrating empathy through brand message and hyper-personalization will become a reality both in B2B and B2C marketing,” says Sunil Tahilramani, director of artificial intelligence at UiPath. “Conversational AI will allow companies to connect and build trust with buyers. By analyzing data from multiple sources and from previous interactions, brands will deliver hyper-personalized experiences that increase customer confidence and trust in their brand.”
Demonstrating empathy through brand message and hyper-personalization will become a reality both in B2B and B2C marketing. Click To Tweet
These hyper-personalized experiences will be largely based on a bot’s ability to recall different interactions customers have had with it over time. It’s sort of like having the perfect employee that can remember and retain every bit of knowledge thrown their way.
One potential driver of more data retention for personalization will be an increase in survey bots. Creating a script that asks customers specific questions about product preferences will be key in being able to extract that information. Keeping things simple by offering customers questions with a 1–10 scale answer will make it low-lift on their side but also give your business important insight into how they feel about a certain aspect of your product and brand.
Janefalkar notes that conversational AI interfaces will have greater awareness and understanding of the nuances within customer intents, which will lead to more complex and sustained conversational interactions. It won’t simply be a yes-or-no or this-or-that experience. The bot will actually be able to make suggestions based on a customer’s past interactions and purchases like a trusted advisor.
The bottom line: Hyper-personalized experiences are going to become a critical conversational marketing trend in the coming years. As a business, building or investing in bots with deep data retention capability will be important to deliver hyper-personalized experiences to customers on a regular basis.
If you want intelligent bots that can strengthen your customer experience, the first step is knowing how to build one. Check out our guide to find out how to build a chatbot with no coding experience in four simple steps.
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