The chatbot craze began in 2016, but is already being replaced by the next big thing: full-fledged conversational AI.

Juniper research believes conversational AI can cut business expenses by $8 Billion in less than 5 years. The potential cost savings benefits alone are enough for many enterprises to have their interests peaked, but conversational AI won’t just cut expenses. It’ll lead to more conversions and higher revenue.

Best of all, it’s not some far off reality. Conversational AI is already here, and enterprises can begin using it to increase lead conversions now. First, let’s compare conversational AI to chatbots, and see just what makes conversational AI so powerful.

Differences between conversational AI and simple chatbots

It’s tempting to refer to both chatbots and conversational AI as chatbots, but that’d be a big mistake. The two are vastly different both in how they are implemented and how a user interacts with them.

Chatbots, which you’ve likely already interacted with if not already implemented, require specific commands and respond with either a menu of options or a list of secondary commands. An example conversation might look like:

Human: I’d like to know the status of my order.

Bot: Thanks for messaging, please use the command !help to learn how I can help you

Human: !help

Bot: (lists all commands including syntax, so like this: !status <your order number>)

Human: !status 201394

Bot: Here is the tracking number for your order: z12390512938

As you can see here, the command requires specific language, and responses are pre-written. This results in a system that is only more convenient for internal processes such as use within your Slack channel vs used lead/customer side. This is because it requires you to memorize commands for each function.

Conversational AI on the other hand focuses on communicating through natural language. Instead of clicking through a menu or using a predetermined command with prefixes, users can type as though they were having a normal conversation. That might look like this:

Bot: Hi! How can I help you today?

Human: I’d like to know the status of my order.

Bot: It looks like your order hasn’t shipped yet. It should ship within 48 hours.

Bot: Anything else I can do for you?

Human: Yes, I need to change the address for my order.

Bot: No problem, just type out the full address and I’ll make that change.

Human: 123 1st street, faketown, Wisconsin, 12345, USA

Bot: Got it! Your order will ship to the new address. Anything else I can do for you?

Human: No that’s all.

As you can see, the bot can carry out conversations that communicate knowledge, ask and answer questions, and even perform transactions (like changing an address).

Another major attribute of conversational AI that sets it apart from chatbots is the ability to learn from past conversations. This results in an AI that’ll become more intelligent and more capable as time progresses. Learning to respond to new phrases and even better dealing with human error like typos.

How conversational AI increases lead conversions

A truly omnichannel purchasing experience

One of the biggest benefits of conversational AI is the ability to create a true omnichannel purchasing experience. Your AI will not only know who it’s speaking to, but what they’ve said and done in previous transactions and on other platforms.

A lead could send a message on Facebook after which they visit your site and continue messaging there. The AI will already know what was said on Facebook and can pick up where the conversation left off.

This results in a faster sales cycle and a more seamless experience for leads, thus increasing the number who become customers.

More personal online shopping

Similar to how a sales associate greets a visitor when they enter your store, your conversational AI can greet visitors to your site. A simple “Hi, just send me a message if you need help” can go a long way!

Then if a lead chats with the AI, it’ll be greeted with human-like conversation, creating a whole new type of experience. They can ask questions and receive answers instead of hunting for a FAQ on your site.

Additionally, those questions can be stored for use later. If a lead asks about a product recommendation, your AI chatbot could respond with a recommendation tailor to the questions they’ve asked previously!

Learn more about your leads

Forms can only capture static data, but conversation is dynamic. That dynamic nature results in leads sharing more than they traditionally would.

Information like pain points, which features are most desirable, and even what objections they may have can easily be uncovered by your AI chatbot.

Better customer service

Many enterprises don’t use customer service as a sales tool, but it’s actually one of the most powerful tools out there! Good customer service is what goes on to create promoters out of customers, and those promoters will go on to build a major amount of trust in your brand.

Conversational AI helps to create better customer service by both reducing the time and creating small moments of delight. And it those moments of delight that your customers will go on to share with other prospective leads.

Increased employee productivity

You’ll also get increased employee productivity. Think about it, your sales, marketing, and customer service teams can all get caught up with responding to customers and leads.

Often, a lead or customer will cross over to multiple teams requiring a lot of time being spent to:

  • Fill in other team members on the contact’s history
  • Connecting with the contact over and over again
  • And locating and finding information shared in other channels.

A conversational AI won’t need to be filled in and won’t have any issue since it’s omnichannel.

Reduced costs

Last, but certainly not least, you’ll benefit from greatly reduced costs. Let’s face it, having a team on standby 24/7 to engage with potential leads, existing customers, and current leads is costly.

Each team member has salary and on top of that the tools you’ll be using to help coordinate all these team members are going to be costly as well. Conversational AI has the potential to solve both of those problems.

For one, conversational AI will be able to single-handedly take care of several conversations that would typically require a marketer, customer service rep, or sales associate. This minimizes the times that you need a real person to interact with customers, saving time and spending that elsewhere.

Additionally, since the AI has access to all channels, you won’t need to pay for costly software to bring all those records together.

All of this saved costs can then be used to increase funding to high ROI marketing campaigns, be transferred to reduced costs for the product or service, and more.

Conclusion

Conversational AI is still relatively new, but it’s already being implemented by enterprises in all industries. You may not have interacted with a conversational AI yet, but already use cases are appearing such as receiving tech support, ordering through a smart AI chatbot, and even receiving recommendations from a concierge bot.

Enterprises that implement conversational AI now, before the mass adoption, will be able to experience stronger benefits of increased productivity, reduced costs, and more conversions from leads.

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