The modern world started with conversation
by Nate Joens, Co-Founder, and Head of Innovation, Structurely
Societies, kingdoms, cultures, and simply humans, at their core, advanced through conversation. We wrote messages in scrolls, passed knowledge from generation to generation, and shared valuable information amongst one another. All in order to advance society as a whole.
There are nearly infinite ways to communicate nearly infinite things. Hundreds of languages, shorthand, images, videos, GIFs, and emojis are, at their core, how we communicate now, how we’ve communicated in the past, and how we will continue to communicate.
Conversations are and always will be at the center of society, whether you’re a consumer or company a conversation must ensue to advance in any way.
So let’s advance.
Conversations are an Ancient Technology
Our earliest artifacts of human civilization come from analyzing conversations. Hieroglyphics and before, our prehistoric ancestors were communicating with one another. Fast forward to today, and civilization is still communicating. In some ways, no different than our prehistoric ancestors (emojis are just hieroglyphics, right? 😀 🤔)
So what’s changed since then?
Of course, in today’s digital age, the channels and ways in which we communicate are different. There’s Facebook Messenger, Text messaging, live chat, and hundreds of more channels we have conversations on. But there’s more to it than that. Since the first computer was invented humans began having conversations with computers. The way in which we communicated was through code, inputs and outputs, functions, executions, and more.
Fast forward to today, and while we still have professionals who write code, and interact with computers on a low level – most of society today interacts with computers through…that’s right, conversation.
WE EXIST TO CREATE CONVERSATION
Conversations can look like many things – code, sales conversations, and pitches.
But, just as we’ve evolved and advanced from inputting executions into a terminal on our computers in order to perform simple actions, we’ve also advanced in how we have conversations.
Enter the era of artificial intelligence (AI).
As a society, we’ve long dreamed of being able to communicate with our computers in natural language, to perform basic to advanced tasks.
And within the last 10 or so years, that dream has become a reality thanks to AI, specifically, conversational AI.
But it hasn’t all been pretty.
THE LANGUAGE MODEL OF CONVERSATIONAL AI
Since circa 2013 one of the most important scientific disruptions began in computer science.
The AI application space of natural language processing (NLP), a space that lived and breathed technology based on computational linguistics, was turned on its head with the invasion of deep learning (computers mimicking how our brain cells learn). Instead of identifying the nouns, adjectives, and verbs of a sentence, these models just listen and understand, much as our brains do.
Though this not-so-hostile deep learning takeover in NLP was not as abrupt or dramatic as the same invasion into the application space of computer vision, which felt more like an overnight change of the world, its slower insurgence has proven just as complete and permanent.
Understanding this change in the technology space is important, as not only is it interesting, but it’s also descriptive of why we are where we are, and also prescriptive of where we’re heading in 2021 and beyond.
First, let’s demystify some terminology. Terms like Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, and Deep Learning have been thrown around in marketing campaigns and abused by many. In layman’s terms, AI is simply having the computer do something you’d expect an intelligent being to do, regardless of how. Machine learning is the art of using models that are trained with examples, typically these models use human expert-defined “features,” in other words they are designed to look for certain attributes in datasets. Deep Learning is a special case of deep learning where the model learns only from datasets and features emerge automatically in the neurons.
CONVERSATIONAL AI AND MESSAGING ARE BUILT FOR AUTOMATION
by Dan J. Levy, Editorial Strategy, Zendesk
Messaging is having a moment. Even before the pandemic, people around the world were relying on the messaging apps on their phones to keep in touch with friends and family, order food, and get around. But in the last year messaging has truly become a lifeline — and more businesses have joined the conversation.
Among companies using Zendesk, customer support tickets over messaging have surged more than 50 percent in the past year, with customers reaching out for help over social messaging apps and via companies’ homegrown properties. Between Facebook’s trio of increasingly unified messaging channels (WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram), and growing business messaging platforms from Apple and Google — not to mention good old SMS — there’s no shortage of ways for businesses to chat with customers.
But while the consumer messaging apps get most of the attention, the vast majority of customer conversations are still happening on businesses’ own websites and mobile apps. In fact, according to our latest CX Trends report, 45 percent of customers prefer to use embedded messaging to talk to businesses.
For customers, the benefits of messaging a business are obvious:
But the other thing that makes messaging so powerful for business is that it’s built for automation.
Conversational AI allows companies to be available to customers 24/7, and to intelligently route customers to the right people, at the right time, with the right context. Our research has shown that customers are happy to talk to a chatbot as long as they answer their questions, and allow them to speak to a real human if need be.
We believe that in order for brands to deliver truly personalized customer experiences, conversations need to flow freely within an organization — across channels and departments. Sometimes businesses need “out-of-the-box” solutions and sometimes they need to build and customize to their needs. That’s why we made an open messaging platform and marketplace that allows companies to connect all their business systems to Zendesk, including specialized chatbots for everything from sales to marketing to eCommerce.
An open platform allows businesses to gain a truly unified view of the customer and for us all to build a more conversational future together.
SUPPORT USE CASE
According to PwC, customer support teams have a pretty low margin for error with their customers; as 32% of all customers say they will switch to the competition after just one bad experience.
The larger problem is “bad experiences” can vary across the board from low question resolution to long wait times or endless transfers. While it appears the deck is stacked against customer support teams, there is hope.
Solutions like Zendesk provide teams a communication channel across all messaging platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat, and many more.
That means you can reach your customers where they are when they want resolution.
Layering in conversational AI within a platform like Zendesk’s Sunshine Conversations allows your customer support team superpowers. They’ll now have the option to engage your customers across messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger immediately, Twitter, WeChat, WhatsApp, text message, and email, all from one central platform.
A Salesforce survey shows that
Your team needs to be consistent, present, and engage your customers immediately with answers to their questions. It’s a tall task, but you can do all of that with an AI Assistant.
As 2020 showed us, we can never be too prepared to respond to crises. Your AI Assistant can scale to accommodate a spike in messages when there is a time of need.
Lowering your CSAT no longer requires the overhead of hiring and training new staff to accommodate customer expectations.
Adding an AI Assistant to your customer journey will forever change the way you engage with your customers. Peaks and valleys in business will no longer cause irreversible harm to your operations or make you lose face with your market. They’ll also not make your staff go crazy, working a ton of overtime trying to keep up and drive morale down.
It is time to advance. Your businesses, society, and consumers are ready they just don’t yet have the trust built with conversational AI technology. But, that is where we come in.