“Alexa, play…” has quickly become a common phrase used in households worldwide every day. Google reports that 27% of online users globally use voice search on mobile, and ComScore shows that half of all smartphone users engage with voice search technology daily. This increasing reliance on voice search for information is impacting more than just consumers — brands must also take notice.
By: Diego Bartolome, Language I/O
Voice combined with multilingual chatbots and conversational AI has become a force for global brands to reckon with. Brands must now have their website and content prepared to support multiple languages and the many different ways consumers speak. When brands aren’t prepared to support voice searches and chatbots, the quality of customer experience will suffer.
The Rise of Conversational AI
Conversational AI, which refers to technology that employs natural language processing to power interactions between humans and computers, has made great strides since its introduction in the mid-1960s when MIT computer scientists developed ELIZA. Today, Siri is a household name, with more than 300 million households across the globe containing a smart home product. While conversational AI is a significant part of our everyday lives, many of its uses fail to provide quality multilingual support, resulting in an experience that comes up short of meeting the need for excellent customer service.
A CSA Research study showed that 60% of consumers in non-anglophone countries rarely or never make purchases from English-only sites, while 75% wish to make purchases in their native language. Because brands are expected to speak in buyers' preferred language, multilingual chatbots are increasingly in demand largely due to how quickly they can answer questions. Additionally, chatbots keep gaining popularity because they provide customers with around-the-clock service and meet their demands for 24/7 assistance.
Brands find that multilingual chatbots allow them to reach a wider range of customers, giving these companies a leg up on their competitors who don’t offer this degree of customer support. Most importantly, implementing chatbots that address easy questions in any language gives customer support agents time to use their human touch for more personalized or complicated questions. Overall, chatbots create a better experience for both customers and agents while helping the entire organization improve retention rates, decrease agent attrition, and help increase both domestic and international sales.
Challenges of Multilingual Chatbot Support
While the need for multilingual chatbots is necessary, executing them can be easier said than done. Eighty-one percent of companies find the process of training a single chatbot more difficult than expected due to the significant time and resources required. Repeating this same process across multiple languages then becomes costly and time-consuming for many organizations, resulting in a 40% abandonment rate.
To avoid obstacles while providing multilingual chatbot support, brands should layer translation technology onto the existing chatbot rather than translate or replicate the chatbot into every language a customer might speak. This allows the chatbot to provide consistent support across the globe without requiring a heavy lift from the brand setting it up.
Providing text-based support in any language is just one part of having a bullet-proof multilingual customer service plan. Brands must also offer self-service customer support channels, including chatbots and knowledge-based articles. These self-help resources empower customers to solve their own problems quickly while lessening the volume of incoming calls and queries that demand an agent’s time. When companies have the right AI technology in place, the system can easily translate both text and voice-based conversations for an improved customer experience.
Ultimately, all customer experience models should be multi-modal and give customers the option to use the channel they’re most comfortable with, whether that is voice, text or video. Though challenging, doing this keeps brands ahead in the game and thinking about how to best support voice interactions in multiple languages.
Conversational AI has long impacted everyday personal lives; now, businesses see how it can be used with their customer service. Without technology that efficiently implements chatbots and completes processes like voice translation, brands will struggle to survive into the future, where high-quality customer service will remain crucial. In a climate where the customer is always right, companies need the right AI-enabled technology to deliver their best performance consistently.
Diego Bartolome is chief technology officer at Language I/O, with 16 years of experience at the intersection of language, computers and technology, assisting companies in communicating in spoken languages. Formerly with Microsoft specializing in cognitive services, Bartolome holds a bachelor’s degree in management and business and master’s and doctorate degrees in electrical engineering. On LinkedIn and Twitter.