In 2018, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) was a popular buzzword in the tech industry and this trend will certainly continue in 2019. One less mentioned industry that has been heavily impacted by the use of A.I. is the industry of business communication. Although we are still only just beginning to understand the limits and capabilities of A.I., it’s already having a real impact on the industry. From chatbots to targeted marketing campaigns, A. I. is quickly changing the way businesses communicate both internally and externally. Contrary to popular belief, A.I. is not a monolith, but actually a group of technologies, like machine learning, natural language processing, and predictive analytics. In this article, we look at specific A.I. applications that have revolutionized business communication.
The introduction of chatbots has unquestionably changed the way consumers communicate with businesses. Chatbots give customers the flexibility to communicate with businesses the way that they want, while also decreasing wait times and lightening the workload of customer service departments. The adoption of chatbots, like Facebook Messenger bots for business has made it possible for millions of customers to instantly communicate with businesses and get the information they need without the need to talk to a customer service agent. This has saved both businesses and their customers a lot of time and money. Chatbots are already estimated to reduce the cost of customer service for businesses by 30%, according to IBM. As we get further into 2019, we will likely see more businesses begin to adopt chatbots to reduce their costs and bolster their customer service experience.
Companies are already using A.I. to change how they communicate with their customers via advertising. A.I. algorithms are already used on online advertising platforms like Google ads, Facebook ads, and Instagram ads. These platforms use machine learning algorithms to forecast the cost per click of each ad based on its copy and targeting parameters, in addition to the cost per acquisition of a customer. Online advertising platforms can even use A.I. to create hyper-targeted audiences for each ad based on the data received from customers who responded to similar ads. The audiences it creates are groups of customers that the algorithm believes are most likely to engage with and ultimately convert from the ad. These ‘smart’ advertising campaigns have generated billions of dollars and allowed businesses, for better or for worse, to target specific groups of customers like never before.
Smart Call Centers
As more businesses begin modernizing their communication systems, cloud communication tools like virtual call centers have become more popular. Virtual call centers utilize voice over internet protocol (VoIP) technology to create a wireless customer service experience that integrates with social media and CRM tools to allow for high volume inbound and outbound calls at a fraction of the cost of on-premise setups. Virtual call centers capture and store vast amounts of data, making them perfect for integration with A.I. This is a positive, considering a large amount of data is a prerequisite for most A.I. applications. This is precisely why more companies like 8×8 have begun integrating artificial intelligence into their call center technology, giving them the ability to rapidly analyze all the data created by their tools.
The ability of A.I. to quickly analyze data has made it possible to perform advanced actions, such as sentiment analysis on live customer calls, where an A.I. bot learns to understand the emotional state of the caller. The bot could then act on that information by requesting a manager to assist with the call, or whatever else the bot thinks is most likely to improve the situation. Capabilities such as these allow businesses to provide personalized customer support at scale and in a way that was impossible before.
According to Statista, spam emails accounted for as much as 53.5 percent of all email traffic in 2018. The Radicati Research Group also found that spam costs businesses $20.5 Billion every year and could eventually cost businesses as much as $257 billion per year, in lost productivity and technical expenses. Thankfully, email platforms are better than ever at detecting whether or not an email is spam or promotional content. Gmail, for example, separates inbound emails before they even reach your inbox without requiring any instructions from you. To do this, Google uses advanced forms of text filtering, client filtering, engagement, and a variety of other machine learning based factors. Text filtering uses natural language processing (NLP) to identify combinations of words and phrases commonly found in spam emails. Client filtering uses machine learning to analyze the attributes of the email sender to determine whether or not they are trustworthy. In addition to those techniques, Gmail also uses collaborative data, like the number of users who labeled emails from a particular email address or domain as spam. Of course, the strength of these new spam filters also means businesses have to be more meticulous in ensuring that their email marketing campaigns are delivering high-quality content to interested parties.
Employees spend an average of two and a half hours every day responding to emails, according to Forbes. That frightening statistic is precisely what makes the introduction of Google’s smart reply feature so significant. Google’s smart replies function, which is available in Gmail and some of its other messaging products, utilize NLP to analyze all of the messages sent and received by you and millions of other Gmail users. The algorithm then uses that data to quickly suggest an appropriate response to the message you received, saving you plenty of time that you would have otherwise spent manually crafting each reply. The specific statistics about how much time smart replies are saving users on average are still out. Speaking from personal experience, it has been able to bring my response time down to about one second for many of the messages I receive. With Google’s smart reply already accounting for as much as 10% of the total emails sent, that number is only expected to increase as the algorithm becomes better at suggesting relevant replies.
These applications are just a small sample of the many unique ways A.I. has improved business communication. While these capabilities are fascinating and already drastically changing the way businesses operate, it’s important to remember that the use of A. I. for business communication is still in its infancy. Nonetheless, every business should keep up with advancements in the field and look at how they can use A.I. to bolster their communication processes.