2019 trends IVA

4 Trends in IVAs to Look for in 2019

January 16, 2019

With a new year upon us, we’re looking forward to all of the exciting things Intelligent Virtual Assistants can bring to the customer care table. We wrapped up 2018 with a look back at the year’s biggest customer care trends, and we’re excited to see what 2019 has in store for the technology industry.

From making AI truly conversational and the possible end of the chatbot as we know it today, to deciding how to implement your customer care strategy, here’s a look at what we can expect to see from Intelligent Virtual Assistants in 2019:

1. Conversational AI
One of the biggest shifts we’ve seen is the growing focus on customer conversations. They influence brand perception, loyalty and purchase decisions. For many brands, it’s no longer just the website or the storefront that makes a lasting impression. And with growing competition in all industries, every conversation you have with your customers has an impact on your company’s success. Conversational AI has the ability to greatly improve that perception, making it easy to always provide a great first, second and third impression whether your customer is calling, texting or web chatting.

2. The “DIY” vs. vendor approach
Maybe your company has already decided to take on an AI strategy for customer care. Great! But, now what? While some companies may opt to do it themselves, others rely on a vendor to help them with design, implementation, and support before, during, and after launch. There are many tools out there today that make it seem easy to build your own AI application, but just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s simple. Building an application that’s tied into complex business rules and customizations requires a team of speech, NLP and IT specialists that are in tight demand. While there are pros and cons to building or buying, working with a vendor has the distinct advantage of bringing expertise in applied AI, vast access to anonymized data for continuous tuning and quick start up, and knowledge of user experience design. When it comes to AI, going it alone may not yield the best results. So, 2019 may be the year we see more companies ditching the DIY effort and turning to the IVA experts.

3. Rethinking success
What does success look like? For years, many companies have been focusing on standard contact center metrics to judge the performance of their customer care. But, with the introduction of AI based IVAs, chatbots and other automation, it’s time to start thinking bigger in terms of measuring success and uncovering future improvements. For companies that are looking to make the largest improvements in customer care, it’s safe to still focus on things like First Contact Resolution (FCR) and CSAT, but you should also add in new metrics like Revenue growth driven through up-sells or new sales opportunities, Customer Effort (how easy or hard is it for people to get things done), and even things like agent job satisfaction and turnover (which should improve with automation taking over the repeat type customer interactions, removing a common complaint).

4. Bye-bye chatbots?
As we mentioned in our 2018 roundup, chatbots have failed to live up to their hype. Because chatbots are only as smart as the technology behind them, they’re limited to what they can do when it comes to customer care. And, while they’re great for automating simple tasks, they’re far from conversational. It’s time to start thinking in terms of conversational AI on every channel with an omnichannel approach — which means being able to understand context and persistence. Customers don’t want to feel like they’re talking to a bot – they want to be able to converse with someone who can quickly and efficiently solve their issues. So, in 2019 we’re likely to see more companies take an omnichannel IVA approach to customer care.

Only time will tell how IVAs will place in the customer care world this year, but one thing’s for sure…they’re not going anywhere and they’re only getting better.

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