MarketsandMarkets forecasts the global conversational AI market size to grow from USD 4.2 Bn in 2019 to USD 15.7 Bn by 2024. While North America is expected to hold the largest market size in the global conversational AI software market, Asia Pacific (APAC) is expected to grow at the highest CAGR during the forecast period. In APAC, the highest growth rate can be attributed to the heavy investments made by private and public sectors for enhancing their AI and ML technologies.
2020 was already being seen as the most definitive transformation of chatbots into Conversational AI bots and the pandemic has further accelerated its growth. From Pharma and healthcare, to BFSI, to travel and government services, all are either adopting or looking to adopt Conversational Service Automation (CSA).
To learn more about CSA, its growth prospects and its impact on work, we interacted with Ravi Saraogi, Co-founder and President (APAC) - Uniphore.
How has the current situation of the global crisis created more demand for conversational AI? Do you think this trend is here to stay?
Call centers around the world have been witness to the fact that the traditional methodologies of running a call center cannot work optimally when faced with something as huge as the COVID- 19 crisis.
Multiple issues such as the safety of the call center agents, work from home logistics, huge rise in inbound call volumes, lesser manpower at the office, spiraling operational costs, compliance and privacy adherence and quality monitoring of the agent interactions have been causing an unprecedented strain on management.
An emerging technology known as Conversational Service Automation (CSA) is a platform designed for call centers and utilizes technologies such as AI, Speech Recognition, NLP and Machine Learning, combined with Automation. It can allow contact center agents to work remotely, while ensuring that the agent meets all compliances and privacy issues and provides the enterprise with access to monitor these interactions. Since, AI and Automation work in the background to provide the agent with the necessary information required for each call received, the agent is able to provide resolution to a customer’s ask in almost half the time required, as compared to older traditional call center technology. In addition, this technology provides cost benefits to the enterprises. CSA is setting the future of work in call centers and there is definitely more demand for CSA post COVID-19 globally, and we have had companies across various geographies approach us to implement our solutions.
What are some of the opportunities that Conversational Service Automation presents for companies to manage both people & work in this time of crisis?
In today’s rapidly changing environment, customers and enterprises seek swift proactive solutions which solve both simple and complex customer problems and build a long-term engagement between them.
Conversational Service Automation (CSA) using pattern recognition technologies such as AI, Speech Recognition, using Natural Language Processing (NLP), Machine Learning and Automation proves to be helpful in meeting the pressing challenges of customer service.
Organizations can automate the bulk of customer service queries by addressing and funneling them appropriately using AI. Customers are encouraged to use the self-service options to hasten resolution and when appropriate, the platform can transfer the call immediately and seamlessly to a human agent.
The agent in turn is prompted with all the necessary background information on the caller and their query. The agent no longer needs to place a customer on hold while they dig out the required information to process the call. This helps in processing more calls in the same duration, with better solutions. It can also help the human agent determine the mood and the sentiment of the caller and therefore the true intent of the caller, in real time, thus helping the agent to address the caller in a manner most suited to addressing his/her concern. If required, the agent can even cross sell or upsell.
CSA can further help the enterprise by ensuring that irrespective of the agent’s location, they can meet all regulatory requirements, maintain good call quality and ensure that sensitive information remains safe.
In which sectors do you predict the demand for conversational AI to be the highest?
Given today’s environment, customers are reaching out in large numbers to support centers of various industries. Sectors like Pharma and healthcare, BFSI, travel and government services do realize the importance of customer experience and are willing to adopt CSA for better governance.
Conversational Service Automation will be an important factor for these sectors for the next couple of years to drive business and continuity.
Would more use of conversational AI and automation pose a threat of job loss to the current live agents present job roles?
Technology should not just be considered as a disruptor of job. In fact, it can also be a creator of employment opportunities. There is a huge demand globally for skill sets such as those required for AI, Machine Learning (ML), Data Analytics, etc. which are fast becoming the must-have skills. At the contact center, the human will always be in the loop. While technology can pave the way for faster, more efficient interactions, the human will remain the empathetic, listener who can help customers with their queries.
How can the business leaders and the workforce prepare themselves to work with Conversational Service Automation capabilities? How can they maximize its benefits?
Today’s business environment is rapidly changing requiring organizations to continually transform in order to remain competitive, achieve business growth and accomplish their goals. Investment in Conversational Service Automation is crucial for companies to stay ahead in the game due to the multiple benefits it provides, as I shared earlier. Successful business leaders plan ahead and consider this investment as an asset.
Automation, machine learning, and artificial intelligence are the focus areas across sectors in India. Talent is ready to explore opportunities and learn. While employees need to focus on learning and upskilling themselves, it is also important that companies provide training & development programs to their resources. This is also the way they can maximize their resources to achieve their business objectives.