How conversational user interfaces are reshaping customer expectations

Harald Behnke, director of CX strategy EMEA at Oracle explores how conversational user interfaces will reshape the experiences brands need to deliver for customers.

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Conversational User Interfaces

Consumer digital assistants like Siri from Apple and Alexa from Amazon are becoming more integral to how customers choose to extract information from companies. As a result many researchers believe that conversational AI, systems that provide human-like responses that are helpful to users, will soon be first priority for many businesses.

Harald Behnke, director of CX strategy, EMEA at Oracle explores how conversational user interfaces (UI), chatbots, digital assistants, and interactive voice response systems, will reshape the experiences brands need to deliver for customers.

How does conversational UI impact CX?

Behnke: This area’s influence on customer experience should not be underestimated. Conversational UI in my opinion is the “third internet” after web and mobile. The driver for conversational CX is to aid the simplicity of effortless interactions. Ultimately, users will just “ask anything” and the brand’s assistant will answer.

Chatbots were the first examples of how conversational UI can boost efficiency levels, however, voice or mobile digital assistants using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will take this convenience to the next level - Google has already reported over 500 million users interacting with their assistant.

Is there a ‘right time’ for businesses to integrate conversational UI into processes?

Behnke: It’s a great question, as timing and placement are the most complex aspects of implementing new user interfaces. Most of Oracle’s customers started this journey in the service domain. Using conversational UI interfaces to automatically answer complex support questions 24/7 benefited their customers because they get swift resolutions to their queries. But this approach also significantly improved metrics for the business like call deflection.

We are also noticing rising interest from marketing departments. We have found that high penetration of WhatsApp or Alexa allows the organization to reach younger audiences and even answer questions before customers search on Google or Amazon.   

Can you share any successful use cases of chatbots or digital assistants?

Behnke: “Our CX chatbot solutions have been deployed by many brands in various countries and languages.

A great example is parcel delivery company Hermes UK’s “Holly” bot. To create the bot they integrated Oracle CX Service with the Oracle Digital Assistant.

After its launch, Holly was handling 20 per cent of all queries without the need for staff intervention. Fast-forward to today and the high end-user acceptance has led to over 30 per cent of support requests now being handled automatically by the Holly digital assistant. Projections say that thanks to Holly operational savings could rise into the millions over the next few years.

Take a look at our lookbook for more case studies showcasing how the likes of the Mutua Madrid Open became the first Premier WTA tennis tournament to utilize an AI-equipped chatbot to improve communications with fans.

Having a bot that understands context, emotion and nuance feels much more advanced than what most of us will have experienced as customers. How is this going to be possible for organizations to achieve?

Behnke: An over simplistic chatbot which covers a single purpose and leaves too many questions unanswered will frustrate customers. The tool will be regarded as nothing more than a ‘crapbot’.

Global players like Google and Uber are investing seriously into creating conversational experiences that are both convenient and intelligent. These frictionless experiences represent a competitive threat to other brands. Businesses will need to advance with the new standards being set in how user interfaces communicate with customers.

The art of creating a complex bot involves educating your popular conversational channels with the data from your company’s entire repository of operational intelligence. This blend will create informed and humanlike conversations between the interface and your customers.

Oracle has a twofold approach to support brands with this multi-year transformation: First, as a real enterprise platform, the Oracle Digital Assistant comes pre-integrated into Oracle CX products and all messaging channels. Second, to master the complexity and strategic impact we offer free co-innovation and prototyping to explore and showcase the possibilities and paths to conversational success to all stakeholders.

What key factors should CX leaders along with their development team take into consideration when implementing bot-centric processes?

Behnke: Teams need to remember that this is a long-term transformation and it should not be underestimated as “just another channel”. With that in mind there are three key factors for success:

First, create a conversational CX strategy. Imagine every feature of your website was accessible to customers asking questions via Alexa or WhatsApp. Ask yourself: Where is the highest value-add for your customers and the business? Which competitors are pioneering in this area already?

Second, when starting small and agile make sure pioneer projects are developed on a platform that can grow to be the enterprise standard – like web and mobile. The customer wants to interact with one brand, not departmental silos.

Thirdly, on a personal note start interacting with digital assistants wherever possible. I am always surprised to see how many brands are unaware of chatbot options or the technical possibilities behind mass market channels like WhatsApp.

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Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels


Harald Behnke,
Director of CX strategy EMEA
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