Artificial Intelligence Life Chat
Dec 31, 2016
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Microsoft AI products
Microsoft product strategy has always been and still remains that of ‘zero alternative’. Their ultimate policy is for their customers to have no choice but to embrace only Microsoft products. Consequently they created and are offering products and solutions in (almost) every segment of IT enterprise and consumer market, including, but certainly not limited to, their own data base, their own cloud services, operating system, office tools, programming language, and many more.
Not only do Microsoft offer wide variety of products, they tie them up together in a unified ecosystem that makes it easy for components to connect and interact. At the same time, this ecosystem is hostile to non-Microsoft products.
Microsoft strategy for the burgeoning, fast growing AI segment is similar:
Create products to address all parts of the AI market, add them to the ecosystem to ensure easy compatibility from within and difficulty of use from outside.
Currently the products on offer are:
- Microsoft AI engine, called LUIS. It is supposed to compete with other major industrial AI systems such as IBM Watson, and has similar training methodology. It offers webhook interfacing via endpoints.
- Microsoft chatbot building platform, called, surprisingly, Microsoft Bot Platform. It addresses the popular demand for easy chatbot design and provides seamless connectivity with main user interfaces, such as web interface, SMS, mobile, and messaging platforms.
- In addition Microsoft offers their own messaging platform in Skype.
The main advantage of using Microsoft AI products is the built-in connectivity with user interfaces.
The main disadvantage is in their ‘zero alternative’ policy - once you’ve chosen a Microsoft product you are likely will be forced to choose only Microsoft products for the duration of your project.
Building 24x7x365 Customer Support and Online Sales... FOR FREE (Almost)
We’ve all seen the numbers and they tell us that customers are more likely to make a purchase if they’re able to speak to a representative at the time of purchase. Study after study shows that if you can prevent even the smallest percentage of customer defection revenues and profitability can literally skyrocket as much as 80%. Just as important, the faster is your service the better is customer experience.
The same can be said for customer support. More than 70% of customers say that responsive customer support providing fast, courteous, relevant and contextual answers to their inquiries are the most important factors in determining the quality of customer service and the likelihood of that customer doing business with the company in the future.
As our world becomes even more “on-demand” and global, providing around the clock sales and customer support is quickly becoming a key differentiator. Customer’s desire to do business with companies on their own schedule and terms are driving financial growth and customer loyalty across all sectors and industries. Companies that neglect this “always on” requirement not only lose out, but need to find ways to be competitive.
Unfortunately, only the largest companies have the financial resources to deliver 24x7 customer support and sales operations. Still many of the largest companies can’t justify the expense of building out and staffing a 24 hour contact center. While outsourcing to a BPO is always an option, statistics show a diminishing return for outsource customer and sales support operations.
As customers continue to drive up the use of chat and social communications for customer support and sales, along with the incredible growth in Artificial Intelligence technology, smart companies on the forefront of customer service now have the ability to offer around the clock service for a large portion of their customers.
Think about this: While the average phone support call has previously been measured at almost 6 minutes, the average chat session lasts just 42 seconds, indicating that the vast majority of customer support issues are simple and only require limited information in order to leave a customer informed and satisfied with the interaction.
Today Artificial Intelligence can deliver a personalized, informed, and contextually relevant response to just about any question related to most customer inquiries. Add on the fact that AI actually “learns” as it interacts with people and information and the value to the customer and the vendor actually increases over time. Wouldn’t we all like to have immediate service with zero wait times and fast, courteous response that immediately addresses our needs? I know I would.
Implementing Artificial Intelligence for customer service comes down to an application cost that, when amortized over the number of chat or social sessions it can handle, reduces customer support costs to as little as 10% of traditional contact center and agent expenses.
The one objection to relying on Artificial Intelligence in the contact center is the customer experience. There’s enough bad press out there about Chatbots and broken, robotic responses that are sometimes irrelevant that some customer support professionals are wary of any form or automation. My response to that is, while those were valid concerns; just take a look at Siri today vs. 2 years ago. The quality of responses has dramatically improved, as has the customer perception and usefulness.
What are your thoughts about Artificial Intelligence in the contact center? We’d love to hear from you.