Many customers today still try to bypass self-service options, like an IVR, as quickly as possible. They immediately press “0” or ask for a representative, but using AI and conversational experience design (also known as conversation design) makes the self-service experience more enjoyable and successful.
With conversation design, you create a self-service technology solution that sounds more human. It greatly improves user experience and provides seven key benefits for your business. But before getting into those, what is conversational experience design?
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What is Conversational Experience Design?
Here at Intrado, we sometimes hear clients ask for artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning or bots after hearing these buzz words in the marketplace. But those words alone aren’t a strategy. Digging deeper into what these clients need, what they really want is conversational experience design, or conversation design.
Conversation design is creating a self-service technology that communicates with customers based on human conversation. It’s about the flow of the conversation and, more importantly, its underlying meaning. So the more an interface leverages human conversation, the less training users need. It becomes natural, intuitive and more engaging.
Conversational experience design makes use of deep learning and natural language processing (NLP). Some people call this speech design, but it’s not just voice. Conversation design and NLP work for multimodal solutions, including SMS, chat and visual contact center channels, too.
NLP enables chatbots and other digital assistants to communicate in a human way using the same words and phrases you use every day. It’s understanding not only what users say but what they mean in the context of their patterns and behaviors in their history of doing business with your company.
Conversation Design: Essential or Aesthetic?
Of course, as nice as that sounds for customers, some may ask if they need conversation design. Is it a necessity today or just an aesthetic perk that makes your business look good without a measurable impact?
People talk to their phones and smart speakers using natural language every day. So for question answering and task completion, users are beginning to expect it at this point. It will become harder and harder to create an exceptional customer experience using just directed dialogue and phone trees that were popular for the last few decades.
Why do smart speakers understand everything a user says, but they’re still asked so many questions in an IVR? At Intrado, we hear questions like that all the time. These questions, along with low engagement in monolithic IVR phone trees, demonstrates a telling change in the expectation from end users. They expect more these days because it’s all around them.
With conversational experience design, we flatten those steps so users avoid those phone trees and submenus. We limit conversational turns and empower them to use the system in the way that they want to interact. Whether it’s through voice or chat, the user is in control, and we find that improves engagement with self-service systems.
Implementing conversational design is an investment. But your only goal should not be to wow the end user. These systems deliver value for companies with complex routing strategies and wide-ranging customers service needs. Conversation design is more than an aesthetic experience. It delivers a measurable return through these seven benefits.
1. Driving User Engagement
First and foremost, conversational experience design increases user engagement because it makes self-service intuitive and easy to use. Many legacy solutions don’t deliver a contextual experience, meaning they don’t understand the meaning behind the words users provide to the system. And without context, the interaction has no relevance to end users.
For example, many systems greet users with a welcome message, and then it immediately asks for identification information. It may sound obvious, but trying to get something for nothing before demonstrating the system’s value causes users to bypass the hoops you put in front of them. They look for a way through the system as quickly as possible, and you lose that engagement.
2. Improved Self Service
Conversational experience design also leads to increased self-service. Good conversation design leverages business intelligence behind the scenes to deliver contextually aware experiences. That way, you know about the user’s history, and it allows you to predict future engagements to create a seamless experience.
A simple example is collecting a payment. A digital assistant leverages business intelligence fueled by an AI algorithm to determine that the user wants to make a payment. So the system presents all the relevant information, and all the user has to do is say ”yes” a few times. This easy and tailored experience limits behaviors like asking for an agent or pressing the zero key. It becomes simple.
3. Reduced Agent Costs
That’s the goal of most self-service engagements. With conversation design, agent opt-outs drop to next to nothing. There’s no time to build frustration to ask for an agent, and as a result, task completion jumps by double digits. Well thought-out conversational experience design fueled by business intelligence enables you to create a more prescriptive experience going forward with your users.
In addition to reducing costs, it also improves agent productivity. AI increases the odds that complex calls get directed to the right agents the first time. Fewer IVR-to-agent and agent-to-agent transfers make your contact center operate more efficiently.
4. Quicker Response Time
Companies that use conversational experience design don’t always start with this goal in mind, but they soon realize these context-aware systems offer rapid response. Few organizations can say they are as fast as they’d like to be to respond to customers and prospecting leads. But a self-service system can respond 24/7 to leads or inquiries. And if it’s smart enough to converse with users, it can have a valuable impact. As they say, timing is everything.
5. Scalability to Adapt Over Time
Systems with conversational experience design provide insights about what individual customers want from your organization. The solutions then grow with customers as their needs change. So there’s analytical benefit from using a system like this. You get conversational dialogue directly from your customer, so they’re pretty much telling you what they need.
6. Understand Customers Better
Along those lines, you end up understanding your customers better. That allows you to fuel future innovation and respond more appropriately. That removes additional expenses from your contact center. It may also reveal new revenue opportunities as you discover your customers’ interests.
7. Omni-Channel Solutions Work Better Together
Finally, conversational experience design goes beyond a single voice channel. These systems expand to meet user preferences. So whether it’s voice, SMS, chat or another channel, conversation design is available. By applying AI, the technology can learn from interactions in every channel. So however the customer wants to interact with your business, you provide channel of choice and learn from every interaction.
Real-World Results With AI and Conversation Design
Over the course of eight weeks, our Intrado professional services group partnered with a major MSO client to bolster NLP capabilities for payment collection. We implemented a lot of these conversation design principles and developed a personalized knowledge bank of their users layered with our business intelligence. We also created an advanced algorithm that started to predict user needs.
The effort delivered immediate value. Overall containment jumped 6 percent out of the gate. Payment-related engagement increased by more than 10 percent. And subsequently, the omni-channel solution increased SMS engagement by over 10 percent.
Over the course of eight weeks using these principles, we saw double-digit jumps. So the outcome is real, and it is expected to pick up as we add more technology, refine the conversational experience design and apply more artificial intelligence applications to the solution.
How to Begin With Conversational Experience Design
If these best practices and outcomes have you interested in conversation design, give us a call at 800.841.9000 or visit us at www.intrado.com/Customer-Experience. Customers want experiences that are easy and effective. Conversational experience design is the one of the best ways to make that a reality.