Leverage AI to boost your business communications

Columnists

Engineers and computer scientists have taken enormous strides in the advancement of new technology, and AI is now a fundamental part of our day-to-day lives – whether we realise it or not.

In June, Walmart confirmed it had started using facial recognition technology to spot store thieves. Walmart’s UK subsidiary, ASDA, denied it was currently using the same software in its 600+ shops. How long before every high street store adopts similar software as an efficient way of reducing shoplifting?

The pace of innovation has been particularly marked in the communication sphere. It touches so many industries, from medicine to media – and there are huge benefits to be found when businesses invest in smarter communication technologies. So much so that research indicates the business value of communications-orientated AI (so-called “AI agents”) will top $1 trillion by 2022. Clearly, AI-based communications are on the cusp of becoming a core part of how businesses interact with potential customers and new hires.

Benefits of integrating AI with customer service

When it comes to providing quality customer service, good communication is vital. Historically, most of a customer’s interaction with an organisation was person-to-person, whether that was face-to-face, by phone or email. Today, speaking to a live agent is no longer the norm. AI is increasingly becoming an integral tool in improving communication with customers and it will only continue to become more intertwined – analysts at Gartner predict that by 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions will be completely handled by AI.

Companies who give machine-learning algorithms access to historical customer service data allow the technology to identify patterns in customer behaviour and ultimately work towards delivering the best customer service offering. AI plays a huge role within Amazon’s recommendation engine – which generates 35% of the company’s revenue – using individual customer data on preferences and purchases, browsing history and items, to create a personalised list of products for each customer.

Once the technology has analysed patterns, businesses can then look to introduce tools such as chatbots as a first point of contact for customers. Chatbots harness the learned intelligence to generate automated responses, specific for each customer from their previous communication with the company.

This doesn’t only result in faster, more tailored responses for customers, but also means that customer service professionals have the capacity to address more serious inquiries with the still-important human touch.

Such benefits are pushing organisations across various sectors and industries to integrate these technologies into their customer service functions. For example, high-profile businesses such as Spotify, Mastercard and even Pizza Hut, have introduced external chatbots. According to Servion Global Solutions’ recent estimate, 95% of all customer interactions will be powered by AI systems by 2025.

Why similar AI solutions are needed internally

While chatbots are predominantly used as an external point of contact, their abilities are easily transferable to internal communications. Although initially it may seem counterintuitive, as we are accustomed to HR’s function of communication on a human level, introducing chatbots in HR has the potential to improve internal communication.

Its benefits will be felt most keenly when it comes to providing quick and accurate responses, as it has done for external communication. This is especially important as younger employees, brought up in a fast-paced technologically advanced world, as they expect speedy responses to questions such as leave requests, payroll queries, employee benefits, and forthcoming training schedules. For example, Directors of digital transformation at Ameex Technology, a company which recently introduced an internal chatbot, found that employees are expectant of rapid responses from their employer’s internal servers as they are accustomed to this experience from extensively using Facebook Messenger, Google and Amazon.

Additionally, chatbots alleviate the pressure that humans feel when asked to give feedback at all levels. The removal of human interaction allows individuals the comfort and ability to be more honest in responses to questions. Businesses will then be able to effectively act on internal feedback and amend business functions to mirror employees’ advice and suggestions.

Chatbots, however, are only one way in which AI can improve internal communications. For businesses who have operations across various countries, language barriers can often prove problematic. Certain AI translation programmes, such as Google Translate – which supports over 100 languages and translates 100 billion words daily – have the ability to translate in real-time. This allows international businesses to decrease language barriers, increasing global employee communication, resulting in drastically improved internal communication between global offices and increased business functionality – something that wasn’t before possible.

AI has a clear and vital role to play in the evolution of communication, particularly business communication. The ability to give instant and tailored responses, both internally and externally, is an opportunity which no business should shy away from. As a business leader, ensuring you have the technology to support best-in-class communication is key to running an efficient team, maintaining an effective customer service function and keeping pace with the growing expectation for instant answers and solutions.

As a result, getting AI-based communication out of the boardroom and into the real world of customers, clients and candidates is a key task for any CEO seeking to keep their organisation ahead of the curve in a fast-moving, technology first, business environment.

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