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Developing for Intent: How Conversational A.I. is Helping Brands Make Meaningful Connections with Consumers

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Is chat support helpful or annoying?  

To me, it’s both.  

It’s helpful because it’s the way I prefer to be helped. It’s asynchronous, it allows for multitasking, and it can be done anywhere.  

But, it’s also annoying. It sucks when you type something in and your customer service agent or bot has no idea what you’re talking about.  

LivePerson is trying to make customer interactions smarter.

Joe Bradley is Chief Scientist at LivePerson, and his mission is to define and anticipate customer needs and intent, via each and every single customer-to-brand interaction. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Joe explains the difference between creating conversational A.I. that not only can hold meaningful conversations with the user, but also understands the intent of the customer. He also gives a look into the future of how A.I.  will empower brands to create better customer experiences. Enjoy.

Main Takeaways

  • What’s the Intent: The future of conversational technologies is going to rely heavily on A.I. and machine learning to not only be able to process the question the consumer is asking, but to be able to understand the intent of what the customer is asking.  
  • Importance of the Hand-off: Conversational intelligence can coherently communicate with the customer on its own, but perhaps more importantly is able to store that information in a centralized location so that when a customer service representative gets to the case, the hand-off is clear and there is no breakdown in the conversation from the consumer’s perspective.
  • How to Manage Your Data: When developing A.I. solutions, it’s important to think of ways to creatively encourage your customers to engage with the platform so that you can collect useful first party data. By asking leading questions that get to the root cause of the customer’s issue, you can design a platform that is not only consistently learning from your customers, but also building trust.

For a more in-depth look at this episode, check out the article below.


Article 

Today brands everywhere are trying to reach their customers where they are. As consumers continue to move online, brands must create channels to reach them at any time and on any device. But simply reaching customers is no longer enough. Consumer expectations are rising, and so too is their thirst for meaningful interactions with the brands they know and love.

“You’d be shocked with how quickly or meaningfully the interaction between a customer brand changes once you open up the medium of conversation,” Joe Bradley said. “People want help, they want to talk about what they want help with in their lives. And they want brands to help them solve those problems when you give them that avenue rather than quickly clicking around on a website.”

Bradley has built a career off helping some of the world’s largest brands leverage data and analytics to create unique personalized experiences. Now as the Chief Scientist at LivePerson, he’s putting those insights to use to help brands create meaningful experiences with their customers. On this episode of IT Visionaries, Joe explains the difference between creating conversational A.I. that not only can hold meaningful conversations with the user, but also understands the intent of the customer. He also gives a look into the future of how A.I. will be deployed and how it will empower brands to create better customer experiences.

Launched in 1995, LivePerson has spent the last quarter century helping brands reach and communicate with its customers more effectively across various platforms. Whether consumers have realized it or not, more than likely they’ve experienced LivePerson technology in some shape or form.

For years consumers have struggled with the limitations and functionality constraints that chatbots possess, and messy hand-offs between technology and humans have created a vexing customer experience. Bradley said conversational A.I. is not only working to remove those headaches, but also working to understand the context of the conversation and quantifying what the dialogue actually is.

“The bigger problem here is handling the dialogue itself,” he said. “Why is it hard to understand  what is dialogue? What does it mean to do that? Well, how do you even think about that?  This is a problem.”

To understand dialogue, Bradley said the amount of data and information the LivePerson platform posses at any given moment can be overwhelming because not only does the service need to be able to ask questions and comprehend questions based on a user’s response, but then also whittle down a list of suggestions based on the information it is given.

“I think a good model is shared context,” Bradley said. “It’s less me facing you and us passing information back and forth and more like you and I, looking at the same image, looking at the same painting on the wall or staring at the ocean to get there and kind of talking through the details of it.”

But part of understanding the context of any conversation is also being able to measure what the problem that the user is trying to convey to the A.I. If someone is on a home improvement website and they are trying to understand how to fix a leak in their house and what product they need, the platform needs to be able to digest the information and help them find a reliable solution.

“The concept of intent and understanding of intent is so powerful,” Bradley said. “When I first got to LivePerson about three years ago, I did a tour of a lot of different companies. Some of the big companies we were working with and trying to understand how they were attacking the problem and where they were suffering. I remember talking to one company and having them say, we think we’ve made some progress on using this, they have millions of conversations. We have made some progress on understanding these millions of conversations and whittling them down into some user intents and some problems that customers want to solve.”

There’s no doubt that conversational intelligence has come a long way since chatbots were first deployed years ago, but Bradley said the technology still has miles to go in its journey in order for it to reach the level of communication and interaction that humans expect on a daily basis from a regular employee.

“The notion that we can use these machines, and we can bring these machines closer to us in terms of communication, ultimately is one of the things that makes it really special to be human in the first place,” Bradley said. “We can start helping machines take steps towards learning and in process learn a little bit about what it means for us to do that in the first place and how it really works for us, because it’s not something we understand fully, and that’s a really fulfilling and interesting and enriching mission.” 

To hear more about Bradley’s journey to LivePerson and his past experiences with Amazon and Nike, check out the full episode of IT Visionaries!


To hear the entire discussion, tune into IT Visionaries here

Episode 279