How Conversational AI is lending depth to brand engagement with Bharat

From integrating voice tech in businesses to improving and enhancing customer experiences, voice technology is becoming a major contributor to bringing digital transformation in the country. A unanimous opinion on these lines was shared by industry stalwarts at a conference titled Voice for Bharat, 2022, organised by Internet and Mobile Association of India (IAMAI). The discussion on ‘Conversational AI (CAI) and its Future Applications’, was moderated by Sabiha Khan, Executive Vice President, WATConsult. The panellists included:

Nandkishore Purohit, Chief Digital & Technology Officer, IIFL

Prajakta Rathe, AVP - Digital Marketing, MyGlamm

Urvashi Singh, Director of Sales - India, Verloop

Introducing the topic under discussion, Sabiha Khan said, “Conversational AI allows you to talk to a digital interface leading to greater utility in how we interact with machines.”

Speaking on what is meant by Conversational AI and its relevance in the context of Bharat, Nandkishore Purohit noted, “It is always better to start with the fundamentals, very importantly, of the topic of the word which has been used, reused over a period of years. Conversational AI is a combination of a word called Natural Language Processing in association with various softwares, which can be chatbox, voice assistants as well as ideas. The fundamental thing in Conversational AI is the word AI, which again has been used, misused, reused. It is a technology which is used to make life simple for a user, irrespective of the industry and irrespective of the use case, because we all know the language, the way we behave across platforms, we have our own persona. What marketers do is that they try to understand the persona, create proverbs and try to surmise us in their way. What conversational AI helps is that it does not create any proverbs. Whatever one is and wants, it tries to understand it, without asking one to change as a consumer. It does not want one to follow a path as a consumer. The consumer tells what they want and it does the entire calculation, entire thinking and provides the summation.”

He further added, “Secondly, in context of Bharat, where we have different educational backgrounds and education levels starting from Kerala, where literacy level is above 90% and there are states with literacy level below 50%. There are different ways of approaching. Conversational AI is not only about understanding one’s text or voice, it is also reaching the stage where it understands one’s mood. It’s about machine learning. A human going to Chennai v/s a human going to Haryana, would not be able to get the same meaning out of the words spoken, but machines can be trained to do that. So, in the context of Bharat, for organisations and industry which I come from, which is BFSI, as of today 80% of our customers from Tier 2, Tier 3 or Tier 4 cities, which is actually Bharat. The entire servicing of those customers happens through Conversational AI.”

On the different types of Conversational AI, Urvashi Singh said, “Conversational AI basically combines NLP with chatbot’s voice systems to help customers to get support and engage in spoken language or written text. If I am reaching out as a customer vis-a-vis if you are reaching out to the same company as a customer, the experience of both of us would be very similar in terms of the conversation that we can have with the conventional chatbot.”

She further said, “Those chatbots have very limited options in terms of engaging with the customers, supporting them. While Conversational AI actually eliminated that challenge of the bot getting stuck whenever somebody reached out for something which is not there is the guided reference. For example, if I do not want to chat or get support for something which is related to the options there, the bot will get stuck there and say ‘Sorry I did not understand’. So, that is something that we can eliminate by getting Conversational AI, combined with chatbots, where the machine learning models could be trained to answer the queries and resolve customer questions, even when the customer is typing out a query or talking in natural language or the language of choice present. So, that is how chatbots have evolved over the years, in terms of providing better customer experience and better customer support, by just re-advancing in terms of technology and natural language processing and understanding.”

On whether Conversational AI should be voice enabled, she said, “Conversational AI actually can come in various forms. It could be written, it could be a voice assistant. It’s a combination of both. In terms of traditional chatbots, the flow was very generic in nature, while Conversational AI could be very personalised. The machine learning models of the chatbot can actually fetch data from your backend and give you a very personalised resolution. That is how both the technologies are different in nature.”

Commenting on the best way that brands can actually use Conversational AI, Prajakta Rathe said, “For instance, I’m looking for a specific type of eyeliner, which probably some other brand has, but because MyGlamm gives so much of discount, I would really want to buy a MyGlamm product, but I don’t know whether MyGlamm has it or not. So, My Glamm will use the Conversational AI and ask ‘Do you have that sort of a glossy eyeliner for me?’. It is all data led, so obviously the AI knows what I have bought in the past from MyGlamm and hence, can suggest me products from the SKUs and because I was being very specific that I need a glossy eyeliner, so it became quite relevant and it was easy to fetch certain kind of details that ‘We have these many, choose one and place your order right now’. In solving these kinds of queries, Conversational AI can help.”

She further added, “For instance, someone is looking for a nice translucent powder, and I have an oily skin but do not know which one will suit me the best, and then I would say, my skin type is oily, can you suggest a good translucent powder? Many such cases can help a customer to actually not go to any store or even talk to people or chat for that matter, but get answers to the questions that are already lying there in the database.”

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