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Chatbots creeping into omnichannel strategy for CRM

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Siri, home voice assistants, we're talking to you. We discuss how companies are using the voice channel for CRM in these early adoption days.

Bots. Alexa. Google Home. Siri. Voice channels yet to emerge and grab your customer base by the lapels in 2018 and 2019. How does a company merge conversational interfaces into its CRM system to take advantage of this new form of customer engagement, in which investment could multiply tenfold in the next four years?

Actually, it's easier now than it may be down the road. In this podcast, SearchCRM.com Executive Editor Don Fluckinger and CRM Essentials Managing Partner Brent Leary talk about where voice fits in the omnichannel strategy, and, at the moment, it seems like most companies investing in the technology use it for rudimentary bots that can change passwords or perform other simple, straightforward tasks.

A key component of all chatbot implementations, whether voice- or text-enabled, involves the knowledge of when to dump out of an automated conversation and elevate customer contact to a human. That will likely change as the technology gets more sophisticated over the next two to four years, and as chatbots get smart enough to handle the entirety of an interaction.

Even now, Google Home has upped its game by recognizing who it is talking to within a household, and can assign ID security to each user. This opens up exponentially more use cases for B2B and B2C companies. A bank using this feature, for example, could create a chatbot that won't give a bank balance to your children, even if they asked nicely.

However, as AI improves -- as well as the backbone technologies of the voice channel, speech recognition and natural language processing (NLP) -- the possibilities will multiply, and CRM leaders will have to make decisions on how deeply to build the voice channel into their CRM strategies. However, they have time, as consumers and businesses are just learning that these voice tools exist, let alone the utility of the channel for getting things done hands-free and building expectations around it.

The silver lining in this technology tsunami may be the modularity of APIs. A lot of the same analytics tools and existing infrastructure that, for example, an organization uses for email correspondence and automation, may translate to voice interactions. The voice channel becomes just another data input; another platform to reach customers on social and other platforms without creating a lot of new back-end applications to support it. At least, that's what we're guessing.

The key to making it work, ultimately, will be the accuracy of NLP and voice recognition technologies, as the quality of data fed into AI, CRM and analytics applications will govern the quality of service a company can deliver to its customers, no matter where they're checking in on their omnichannel strategy.

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