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The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Conversational AI

The worldwide Conversational AI sector is expected to rise from USD 4.8 billion in 2020 to USD 13.9 billion by 2025. One can argue that COVID-19 has played a contributory role behind it.

With the coronavirus crisis prepared to be dragged on for unstipulated time in the future, understaffed agencies, grocery outlets, and financial organizations have started going full throttle to incorporate chatbots and conversational AI tools for managing the growing calls’ influx.

Businesses, under the pressure to sustain this period and rise, are willing to try on new platforms. And as a response, technological giants have also started upping their solutions delivery game.

  • IBM noted a 40% rise in traffic in their Watson Assistant between February to April this year.
  • In April, Google announced the launch of Rapid Response Virtual Agent – a version of Contact Center AI – and reduced its services price in line with the client demand.

The most recent generation of voice-based agents and chatbots that these tech giants are creating, are easy to develop, fast to deploy, and a lot more responsive to the users’ inquiries compared to their predecessors. Once adopted, these platforms are promising to remain constant and prove their value via affordability and ease of use.

The system that is emerging to be one of the most key areas in this ecosystem is Conversational AI.

Conversational AI As a Solution

Chatbots have already proven their supremacy in handling the massive surge in call volume that the contact centers are witnessing globally.

Validating this is a finding from Boost.ai platform which shows that the conversations happening across their clients’ present chatbots have grown to up to 250% in some of the industries ever since coronavirus was announced to be a pandemic.

A series of other companies have also started implementing Coronavirus specific bots for answering questions coming in from their concerned customers. Like in another example, Microsoft Healthcare Bot is now deployed by multiple organizations across the United States, and has already been operating at a rate of 1 million COVID-19 questions per day.

The reasons why AI-based chatbot technologies are being used is clear:

  • It promises consistency around all the customer interactions.
  • It deploys immediate information, irrespective of the time.
  • It enables instant scalability for meeting demand spikes.
  • It makes it possible for organizations to handle huge queries’ spikes in a timely and consistent fashion.

The fact of the hour is that there is no business or government agency present that would doubt the importance of having a conversational AI system incorporated into their platforms. But what is important is to integrate the best practices when implementing these solutions, especially in the current time of crisis where people are looking for consistency and transparency.

Key Pointers to Consider When Developing the Best Conversational AI System

Be conscious of the time to market

The time to market metric is often linked with conversational AI platforms. Setting up governance and structures through an agile approach would ensure timely insights to be conveyed to the users, irrespective of what the human-nature of the situation is – meaning, whether or not a human is present to answer customers’ queries.

There are some organizations which have been successful in this front. A success story of this can be the Government of Estonia launched a multilingual Coronavirus response chatbot in a short span of time for ensuring that the nationals have accurate, updated information coming in from the official sources.

Be relevant to customers’ needs

Defining the intention of the customer or website visitor can be difficult specially during the time of a crisis. In such conditions, constant reporting of the conversation data can show what really matters to the customers while helping prioritize the development efforts in creating newer flows and use cases.

Be empathetic to concerned customers

A key to offering a positive experience to the customers is by showing empathy through brand message. When you understand what your customers must be going through, it automatically reflects in your offerings and the customers feel trusted, reassured, and confident.  

For achieving this, you must make use of AI-driven insights to understand your customers’ issues and incorporate proactive solutions in the system.

Be consistent and become a reliable source of information

A key element during the time of crisis is information consistency across multiple sources and channels. Changing information can result in confusion and can eliminate the effectiveness of effectiveness.

So while you design your chatbots to deliver information across channels in real time, you should also keep consistency into picture.

It should not only be consistent with the information and compliances shared by the government bodies, but also be similar across all your pages and interaction points. 

Parting Words

Companies across the globe have already started accelerating digital transformation plans as a response to Covid-19 outbreak. They are desperately seeking ways for responding effectively to their customers’ needs and finding opportunities to differentiate themselves from competitors in real-time.

Conversational AI, in this scenario, can be a prime element of this digital transformation effort. It enables businesses to manage a fast-paced landscape that calls for scalability, flexibility, and intelligence needed for the new normal where technology and human interactions are made autonomous for better efficiency.

With enterprises reimagining their company’s digital version, the power to have intelligent and automated conversations with customers will become a priority. A priority that Conversational AI will address.

About the Author

In this contributed article, technologies Jason White discusses

Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Technology and 2 years of work experience in a mobile app development company, Jason White is focused on making technology digestible to all. Being someone who stays updated with the latest tech trends, he’s always armed to write and spread the knowledge. When not found writing, you will find him answering on Quora while sipping coffee.

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