Revolutionising customer support – Part 1: The role of conversational AI in e-commerce – Adgully

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In the fast-paced landscape of customer support, where every interaction can make or break a customer’s perception, the evolution of conversational AI has become a game-changer. As businesses strive to meet the ever-changing needs of their clientele, the role of intelligent and adaptive virtual assistants has become increasingly pivotal. In this feature story, we delve into the firsthand experiences of those at the forefront of this technological revolution, exploring how conversational AI has transformed the customer support domain.

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In this two-part report, Adgully seeks to explore the nuanced journey of conversational AI’s evolution, examining the milestones and breakthroughs that have shaped its trajectory.

“Having closely observed the evolution of conversational AI in the customer support domain, it is evident that the landscape has undergone significant advancements,” observes Gaurav Singh, CEO and Founder, Verloop.io.

“Basic chatbots were primarily rule-based and struggled with understanding complex user queries. However, with the integration of natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning, conversational AI has evolved to offer more contextually aware and personalised interactions. The ability to comprehend user intent, coupled with continuous learning, has greatly improved the efficacy of virtual assistants and chatbots in addressing a diverse range of customer queries in real-time. Now, propelled by the capabilities of Generative AI, our conversational AI solutions have reached unprecedented heights. Beyond that, it aids agents by alleviating their workload through assisted answers and various generic capabilities such as tone checking, tone enhancement, rephrasing responses, and more. This amalgamation empowers users and businesses to effortlessly construct their conversation flow using prompts, eliminating the need for time-consuming tasks like coding or manually arranging conversation boxes to create flow recipes,” he adds.

Sharing specific examples of how Myntra has implemented conversational AI to improve customer support and enhance the shopping experience, Raghu Krishnananda, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Myntra, says, “We are constantly on the lookout for emerging technologies that can be leveraged to effectively improve the end-to-end user journey on our platform. In 2023, we launched Maya, a conversational AI-powered chatbot designed to create a virtual shopping assistant experience. Maya can handle broad open ended queries and through intelligent responses, can help narrow down the choices and recommend products from the fashion, beauty, footwear, and home categories across millions of styles listed on Myntra, making the shopping experience convenient for the customers.”

According to him, the MyFashionGPT feature, which integrates OpenAI’s revolutionary language model, ChatGPT 3.5, enables shoppers to help users looking for outfit recommendations based on occasion, mood, favourite celebrity looks, among others. MyFashionGPT allows shoppers to use natural language to engage with the platform, thus enabling a seamless and intuitive shopping journey.

Conversational AI has come a long way since its inception, opines Tarun Dua, CEO, E2E Networks Ltd – a cloud computing platform. He adds, “Back in the 1960s, the first chatbot, ELIZA, was a basic programme, simulating a psychotherapist’s language patterns, with very limited and fully pre-programmed responses. Fast forward to today, where we have conversational AI chatbots that are able to respond in human-like language, and on an extremely wide array of topics. One of the domains where this technological evolution has had a significant impact is in customer service. Users, nowadays, expect round-the-clock responsiveness from businesses, and conversational AI chatbots have been helping reduce workload of customer care representatives.”

According to him, this technological progress has been largely due to breakthroughs in Artificial Intelligence, particularly advancements in Generative AI. Generative AI systems are built using neural network-based AI models, which are trained on massive-sized datasets, to generate new content based on what it has learned.

“Being an AI-first hyperscale cloud platform, we are building the infrastructure needed by startups and enterprises to build and train Generative AI technologies like Conversational AI Chatbots. Businesses building modern Conversational AI technologies require access to advanced GPU clusters, like A100 or H100, which are extremely high in demand, in a cost-effective and predictable way. Our platform, E2E Cloud, not only provides swift access to these top-tier cloud GPUs, but also empowers businesses to effectively harness advanced AI models and datasets through our innovative AI platform, TIR,” Dua says.

Striking the balance

As businesses increasingly rely on automation to enhance customer interactions, a crucial question emerges: How do e-commerce players strike the delicate balance between harnessing the efficiency of conversational AI and preserving the personalised, human-like touch that customers crave?

The integration of conversational AI has become not just a trend, but a strategic imperative, says Tarun Dua. He feels that conversational AI technologies should be viewed as assistants and facilitators, complementing rather than replacing the human aspect of a company. They can efficiently process vast amounts of data, guiding users to answers and directing complex queries to human staff.

“These technologies can be tailored to a brand’s tone and style, ensuring responses align with the brand’s voice. Additionally, Conversational AI bots are increasingly multimodal, understanding and responding in various formats like text, images, and audio. This allows for enriched, customised interactions. Furthermore, Generative AI can assess customer sentiment to tailor responses more effectively. The key lies in training the AI on the company’s knowledge base and fine-tuning it with open-source AI models and datasets for specific company use cases, ensuring it speaks the brand’s language accurately,” Dua says.

“Companies are, for instance, harnessing open-source Generative AI models like Llama2, fine-tuning them specifically for company’s use cases – and to ensure the brand tone remains consistent (technically known as RAG-pipeline), using them to power Conversational AI bots. In the future, we will increasingly see this hybrid model of Conversational AI and human representatives, while maintaining human-like personalised touch to the brand,” he adds.

In the dynamic landscape of e-commerce, the integration of conversational AI is indeed pivotal for enhancing customer interactions, says Gaurav Singh.

“To ensure a seamless integration of automation while preserving a personalised and human-like touch, e-commerce players must adopt a thoughtful and strategic approach. Firstly, investing in advanced natural language processing (NLP) Generative AI-powered technologies is essential to enable chatbots and virtual assistants to understand and respond to customer queries with a human-like comprehension. This not only enhances the efficiency of automated interactions but also contributes to a more personalised experience by tailoring responses based on individual preferences and historical interactions. Additionally, incorporating machine learning algorithms allows these systems to continuously learn and adapt, improving their ability to provide contextually relevant and empathetic responses over time,” says Singh.

Moreover, he adds, maintaining a balance between automation and human intervention is critical.

“While AI can handle routine queries and transactions efficiently, there should be seamless transitions to human agents for more complex or emotionally sensitive issues. E-commerce players should prioritize the integration of live chat features, ensuring that customers always have the option to connect with a human representative when needed. But after that, providing agents with the necessary tools to ensure that they respond to customers faster while following the voice of the brand is also crucial. Furthermore, regularly analyzing customer feedback and fine-tuning AI algorithms based on these insights is crucial to refine and optimize the conversational AI experience continuously. By combining cutting-edge technology with a human-centric mindset, e-commerce players can achieve a harmonious blend of automation and personalized service, fostering customer satisfaction and loyalty in the ever-evolving digital landscape,” he says.

(Tomorrow Part 2 of the report will explore how e-commerce players must ensure that its conversational AI systems adhere to the highest standards and future trends.)

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