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Why Australian SMEs must begin exploring AI’s value now 

If you’re not thinking about ways to utilise AI in your enterprise, you’re missing a golden opportunity to improve productivity and service

In 2023, who isn’t talking about AI? Once the stuff of science fiction, it’s now the topic du jour, for businesses and organisations of all stripes, and the individuals who work in them. 

We have OpenAI’s Chat Generative Pre-trained Transformer, better known as ChatGPT, to thank or blame for that. 

Although AI-driven tools and processes are already deployed in a myriad of systems and settings, it wasn’t until this large language model-based chatbot was unleashed on the world on 30 November 2022 that many business leaders began giving serious thought to the technology. 

Observing its extraordinary potential – ChatGPT can be used to do everything from writing simple lists to summarising vast swathes of complex information and creating code within minutes – has prompted them to start asking a series of 64-million-dollar questions: how, when and where might AI be incorporated into our operations?

Chatbots ain’t chatbots

For many organisations, the areas of the business where ‘traditional’ chatbots are already in use can be an excellent place to get started.

In contact centres, for example, chatbot technology has become ubiquitous over the past decade. Organisations have sought to cut costs and process customer enquiries faster by deploying ‘virtual agents’ that are programmed to respond to a limited range of carefully worded questions and requests. 

They’re useful and effective in their way – at least until a caller goes off script or throws them a curly one. When that occurs, interacting with the chatbot can very quickly become a deeply negative experience. 

After being batted off with generic responses or ‘helpful’ links that really don’t help, frustrated customers tend to either hang up in disgust, or hold on for as long as it takes to speak to a living breathing agent who can – hopefully! – help them resolve their issue.

The conversational AI advantage

Virtual assistants powered by Conversational AI can do a much better job of things: sorting out queries and complaints capably and efficiently, and keeping customers sweet to boot.

Their natural language processing capability enables them to gauge context, comprehend multi-intent requests, take conversational variations in their stride and deliver relevant, helpful responses.

That means they have the capacity to carry on dynamic conversations with customers, in natural language, and resolve a gamut of issues, without human involvement. 

And they can do so at speed. Fewer people fuming in telephone queues makes for a better customer experience. That’s a plus for businesses that are seeking to elevate the quality of their interactions with current and prospective customers. Given there’s now a body of research that shows CX is a critical determinant of long-term loyalty, every business worth its salt should be in that category.

It just keeps getting better

Moreover, the value Conversational AI-powered virtual agents deliver is ongoing because they’re programmed to keep ‘learning’ from every interaction they engage in. 

Just as human employees gain knowledge and experience over time, virtual agents can become better at resolving issues, the longer they’re deployed.

And, on the occasions when they do need a helping hand from their human counterparts, enquiries can be handed off seamlessly, without the need for customers to re-enter their details or repeat their stories from the beginning.

Elsewhere in the enterprise, Conversational AI-powered autonomous workplace agents can take on a myriad of intelligent tasks, from summarising documents to drawing on data analytics to schedule maintenance for facilities and equipment. 

Embracing the opportunity

The AI era is well and truly upon us and companies that don’t begin finding ways to harness its power will all too quickly find themselves left behind by fleeter footed competitors that can see its transformative potential. 

If augmenting your human workforce with Conversational AI-powered virtual assistants isn’t on the agenda for your organisation in the next 12 months, it’s safe to say you’re missing an oversized opportunity to optimise your operations.

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Andrew Winlaw

Andrew Winlaw

Andrew Winlaw is Vice President and General Manager Australia and New Zealand for Amelia, the enterprise leader in Trusted AI whose mission is to power the world with intelligent expert systems, eliminate routine work and free up brainpower for innovation and high impact activity. Andrew has more than 20 years’ experience in the IT industry during which time he has held senior sales director and account management roles at CSC and IBM Global Services where he managed a wide range of clients supporting their drive for business growth and transformation.

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