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As digitization continues to shape consumer behavior toward ecommerce businesses, consumers are increasingly demanding fast and convenient online shopping experiences. Fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic, that demand also increased the online presence of ecommerce businesses. With more enterprises riding the digital transformation wave, positive customer experience (CX) is crucial to customer acquisition and improving sales.
In 2021, Vonage listed chatbots (40%) as the second most preferred communication channel for consumers. Shopify’s Future of Commerce Trend 2022 Report revealed 58% of consumers purchased from brands where they’ve experienced excellent CX. The report further showed more brands (44%) plan to invest in asynchronous chat experiences to manage customer responses. Undoubtedly, many ecommerce brands are becoming more aware of the impacts of CX, and are turning to artificial intelligence (AI) tools like chatbots to improve customer service.
However, while chatbots have become a critical part of the customer journey today, issues around personalization persist. In 2019, Forrester reported that 54% of online consumers in the U.S. believed interacting with a chatbot “has a negative impact on the quality of their life.”
This implies that even though chatbots are great tools, they aren’t perfect yet. Though, Ohad Rozen, cofounder and CEO of chatbot provider, Tymely, believes that human supervision in its processes provides a solution that enables human-level personalizations.
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The company, which today announced it raised $7 million to “make AI converse better,” claims it uses AI-human hybrid tech to enable brands to provide email and chat support services in a more human, empathetic and precise way.
Rozen told VentureBeat in an interview that in addition to Tymely’s cutting-edge natural language processing (NLP) models, the company takes the human-in-the-loop approach to close the gap between today’s current technology stack and optimal customer service.
The rise and fall of chatbots
Chatbots are AI-powered programs that provide on-demand customer services — and unlike human customer services, chatbots are always available. In 2018, Drift reported that 64% of consumers listed 24-hour service as chatbots’ most helpful feature, while 55% were impressed with its swift response.
Although chatbots are fast and readily available, creating personalized messages is still a blocker. This is because of their inability to comprehend the nuanced industry-specific languages customers use. WATConsult’s 2021 research adds more weight to this stance, revealing the main blockers to using chatbots are lack of understanding (50%), inability to solve complex issues (47%), and lack of personal service experience (45%).
According to a report by Gartner, Chatbots’ self-service report is also statistically underwhelming. The report showed chatbots’ self-service solves only 9% of queries without a human touch. Besides, chatbots have limited use for customer engagements, and chatbots with poor customer service output are bad news for sales. For example, chatbots caused sales to decline by 80% in 2019.
Because of its limited customer service functionality, many companies are slow to adopt the technology. For instance, fashion retailer Everlane ditched the Facebook Messenger chatbot after it recorded high failure rates in 2017. Along those same lines, in 2018, Accenture reported that 53% of organizations “have no plans” to invest in chatbots.
Tymely claims its AI technology can create personalized messages. Launched in 2022, the company says that it is building an AI that understands complex human language to improve CX. Unlike most chatbots and other fully automated solutions, Tymely claims it has a human-level understanding of the customers’ language, with its technology being a mix of people and AI.
Rozen also believes the human touch is the answer to creating empathetic messages that regular chatbots lack.
“Tymely employs experts that review each AI input and, if needed, correct it in real-time. This results in human-level accuracy that enables us to understand tiny and implicit nuances in a customer’s text; a high-resolution understanding that also allows us to generate hyper-personalized and empathetic responses to customers, according to the brand’s voice and policy,” he said.
Rozen also noted that Tymely can improve the efficiency of contact centers because it’s fully digital, helping businesses save labor-head costs. He further noted that Tymely AI costs 50% to 80% less than outsourced contact centers. “And unlike contact centers, Tymley commits to SLA in minutes, not hours,” he added.
This new funding boost was led by venture capital firm Hetz Ventures and DESCOvery, the D. E. Shaw group’s venture studio. In a statement announcing the funding, Rozen revealed that Tymely plans to use the funding to “improve its natural language understanding (NLU) technology” for better service offerings.
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