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Conversational AI – The Perfect Response from Cirrus

Cirrus' take on conversational AI and the shift in CX

Conversational AI – The Perfect Response from Cirrus

Following an article published on conversational AI on UC Today, Nikki De Kretser, CMO at Cirrus, reached out to bring me up to speed on their artificial intelligence and chatbot capabilities.

In my original post, I mentioned that Cirrus’ initial demo of their AI tool at the time blew the room away. However, as the industry changes and matures, so do products. Today’s conversational AI is perhaps even more intelligent than first thought. Nikki teed me up with CEO, Jason Roos, and Product Director, Glen Blow, to catch up on the latest conversational AI happenings at Cirrus.

Cirrus and conversational AI in 2018

Jason was keen to point how that the Cirrus platform is not a technology lead approach. Their major focus is on customer outcomes – and that just so happens to leverage technology on the way.

Back in March 2018, at the Call and Contact Centre Expo, Cirrus took a ballsy but confident approach to conversational AI. The problem they aimed to solve was when contact information is buried layers deep so customers can’t actually contact a business. Jason commented on the state of Contact Us sections:

“Often a negative customer experience is created, but also sales opportunities are missed. Conversational AI, as a rapid release, would have transformational results”

Jason described the demo at the time as dangerous. The offer of spinning up a demo within 30 minutes of receiving a business card was a game changer in chatbots – before we were talking about conversational AI.

Jason goes on to say that the second key point to the Cirrus AI experience surrounded the knowledge base. The offering was unique in 2018 as their chat tool scraped the website and existing resources to gather information. However, information doesn’t always provide context and understanding.

Challenges from 2018 to 2019

Jason told me that Cirrus has found some challenges around rapid deployment and scraping sites for knowledge.

“We found that most websites are built poorly. You could have content in two different places that addresses a question but the language used is subtly different because the context is different. If you allow the knowledge base to use the website, you could end up with two outcomes for one question”.

He goes on to comment on another problem around linguistics. When humans spell words incorrectly or there are alternative meanings to words, chatbots need to be taught this. We cannot assume artificial intelligence is totally artificial or totally intelligent. Just like with humans, bots must be trained to an extent.

Jason used the example of an insurance company where claim is often misspelt. You don’t want your chatbots offering advice on how to make a clam. Understanding that humans make mistakes needs to be plumbed into bots.

Cirrus conversational AI in 2019

From the lessons learned, Cirrus has now launched Cai (Conversational AI). To streamline the customer journey further, Cai now comes provides a chat experience similar to an IVR.

“80% of queries are the same. In the insurance industry, it’s often quote, amend or claim. This gave us a light bulb moment in terms of the approach to delivering conversational AI. We needed to rapidly build vertical based personas. If 80% of the content is going to be the same, the training can be done in advance. All that then needs to happen is tie in brand personality and leave 20% scope for unique customer requirements. A result of this is that we can achieve quicker deployment speeds than ever before”.

Making artificial intelligence more intelligent

Glen then showed me what Cai can do to both improve customer satisfaction rates (as well as capturing this information) and drive better and more sales.

The conversation with the AI played out like this:

Customer: I have a question about my council tax

Cai: Which of the options is most relevant?

  1. Pay my council tax
  2. I don’t know how much I need to pay
  3. I need a copy of my bill
  4. I’d like to apply for a refund

At this point, I was expecting to only be able to choose one of the options provided – like when you are presented with options on a voice IVR.

Obviously, you could hit the option of your choice. But think back for a moment to all those times where you’ve been presented with voice options and none of them were relevant for your call. You are stuck.

With Cai, you can have a genuine conversation and not come across sticking point. If your option is not there, you have the power to ignore the suggested options and type another query. Often the live chat or chat bot experience is ruined as technology halts the conversation. This is not conversational AI. This is merely a bot.

Eventually, as we go down the route of complex enquiry, I may need to talk to a human. Typical experience in the scenario is that we – as consumers – must start again and explain our query, then go through data protection once more. This is not the case with Cai. The chat transcript is handed over in real-time to a chat agent, who has access to the preceding chat. A major win for the frustrated consumer that just wants their issue remedied.

Context capture and sales enablement

At the point where a conversation is ending, the AI will prompt the original context of the conversation to be addressed. Cai knows that you originally interacted with a sales request. So, when you’ve gone off topic, Cai brings back the original topic which should help close more sales.

Rather than a boisterous salesperson try to get back on topic over the phone, Cai provides a softer approach that buyers will respond to. So that’s a win for the consumer and for the business.

Cirrus were at Call and Contact Centre Expo 2019 this year too. In addition to the capabilities described in this post, you can watch the video below to hear more from Jason as he walks through the new translation capabilities available with Cirrus and news about their contact centre partnership with hosted voice leaders, Gamma.

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