Transforming customer experience with Conversational AI harnessing Generative AI

Advances in artificial intelligence have transformed the way humans and machines communicate and collaborate. Conversational AI, powered by Generative AI, enables businesses to build meaningful relationships by providing cognitive, social and emotionally intelligent digital experiences. Businesses can use digital assistants to simulate human conversation, enabling self-service and simplifying processes. Avatars and digital humans further provide opportunities for immersive and emotionally connected experiences. However, challenges such as data quality, privacy, security and AI regulations must be addressed for responsible and ethical use. By prioritizing relationships and usability, organizations can harness the full potential of Conversational AI and Generative AI, enhancing interactions and overall satisfaction.

Bridging the gap in personalized support (cognitive, social and emotional) on digital channels

How humans and machines communicate and collaborate has been evolving quite rapidly with advances in artificial intelligence (AI). With strides being made in the field of Generative AI, the implications for businesses are vast — as language plays a critical role in every aspect of an organization's daily operations and business processes, including in customer and employee experience.

The holy grail for any business is to truly build a meaningful relationship with their customer, rather than only having a transactional interaction. When this happens, human and business outcomes are better. For example, the better the communication between the doctor and the patient, supported by technology, the better the health outcomes. This is the promise that Conversational AI, aided by GenAI, brings — a cognitive, social, emotionally intelligent and authentic digital experience, communicating and collaborating in natural terms with humans, to remove friction through a personal, accurate, real time and data-driven conversation.

Domain-specific intelligent assistants leveraging foundational models and multimodal understanding

Consider Tom and Anna, both young professionals with ambitions to start a family and buy their first home. They need that extra support, connection and care to have their multiple needs met, the important one being insurance (home and life). A top concern they are seeking a reliable solution for dealing with unforeseeable circumstances. For instance, if they were to take out a home loan and then lose one of their sources of income in the future, or if they were unable to work due to illness.

Seeing a virtual assistant implemented by their bank (promoted on the bank's website), they decided to engage with ‘Mia,' the virtual financial advisor, to answer their questions and help educate them to make informed decisions. Mia's superpower is her ability to listen and understand their questions, not to mention her ability to pull data from a variety of certified sources (Internal Bank systems, Verified Online sites, Social and Open Banking Platform) by using the bank's internal NLP/LLM platform to respond to Tom and Anna's concerns with relevant responses in an empathetic tone. As the conversation with Tom and Anna gets more complex and personal, as they seek the best-suited policy, Mia decides to connect them with a human advisor or schedule an appointment.

These domain-specific intelligent assistants focus on knowledge hunting and provide deeper insights and solutions tailored to specific industry needs. L'Oréal, a world-leading cosmetics brand, relied on NTT DATA to develop Lore, its virtual assistant that offers responses on beauty tips and recommendations, and helps users in their shopping process in a hyper-personalized way.

Large Language Models can lend expert advice, supporting decision-makers on work that requires highly specialized knowledge, such as legal or expert advice. With multimodal understanding, the assistant is capable of processing not only text but also images, audio, and video to enhance comprehension and provide richer responses. While humans should always remain in the loop, acting as the ultimate decision-maker, this technology can instill confidence, providing users with the necessary data and information to make impactful choices.

Multiple languages and GenAI support

The ability of GenAI to support multiple languages is a game-changer, expanding its reach globally. Integrating foundational models enables GenAI to understand the context from documents, providing a more personalized and efficient user experience. This feature is particularly valuable in industries where language diversity is prominent. Imagine a customer who speaks only Spanish calls into a customer care center, and the first contact is with a virtual assistant who immediately understands the caller's language and replies in real-time in Spanish, while the content inside the dialog flow in the back end is still in English. Furthermore, based on the understanding of the user persona, the response can be simplified as in the case of older adults or people without legal knowledge.

Virtual assistants & Multi-agents to augment customer care centers

GenAI enhanced virtual assistants can naturally simulate human conversation and enable self-service for business and IT processes. Agents and multi-agents help to handle complex interactions and tasks by leveraging distributed processing, specialized domain o task specific agents while learning from the user interactions to enhance the conversational assistant. For example, consider a new employee or an M&A situation. The onboarding experience is one of the most complex due to the number of internal systems and processes involved. It's easy to drop the ball on providing a great experience at this early first impression stage for the employee, which can contribute to employee attrition within the first 90 days. Consider having an employee virtual assistant that can provide self-service support by synthesizing and summarizing instructions so that users don't miss anything, can clarify, suggest and provide mentorship guidance.

There's no more having to contact IT support or, in some cases, when an IT ticket is needed, the ticket creation, tracking and resolution are made simpler through automation embedded with instant resolutions. By leveraging the context, history and environment of the employee, the virtual assistant can provide easy and quick solution support that taps into resolutions for similar tickets in the past. NTT DATA's Workplace services and BPO offerings leverage NTT DATA's Nucleus Intelligent Enterprise Platform that helps hyper-automate complex workflows while providing a human-centric, frictionless conversational AI experience for employees and customers.

Avatars and Digital Humans

The evolution of avatars and the next generation of digital humans promise a more immersive and emotionally connected experience. NTT DATA Digital Human Solutions offers all the best aspects of a superior customer service interaction with a human representative. The platform does this by combining the ease of natural human interactions with complete, up-to-date knowledge about each customer. The result of NTT DATA's collaboration with Tour De France was a digital employee named Victori, who serves as a digital receptionist in a kiosk at the tourist office, to help guests by answering questions about the Tour De France and what to do at the local cities, especially outside the office times. Guests can also scan a QR code on the kiosk and get the assistant on their mobile devices to query for things like the closest restaurant, restroom or fan zone.

Challenges in adoption, implementation, and scaling

We know that AI technologies can be applied to help bridge this growing gap in the cognitive, social and emotional support on digital channels. But it needs to be designed in the right way to be the most effective. The quality of data and the output to retrieve the most relevant information for the request or question is a linchpin for the success of AI implementations. Establishing a robust data architecture and governance foundation is essential for the effective deployment of GenAI. This encompasses making sure data quality, privacy and security help maintain user trust, while from the organization's point of view addressing vulnerabilities like hacking of the responses. As AI technologies advance, regulations become a critical consideration. Adhering to AI regulations and comprehending the legal implications of GenAI is crucial for responsible and ethical use. This involves addressing concerns related to bias, privacy, and evaluating societal impacts on accessibility. To overcome these challenges, organizations must construct a compelling business case for adopting these technologies. This involves demonstrating a clear return on investment (ROI) by balancing costs with tangible creative content returns.

Addressing challenges requires a focus on the user. Choosing the right technology involves evaluating its impact on users and the problems it solves. Organizations like NTT DATA play a crucial role in determining the most suitable tech solution for the challenges at hand while taking a human-centered design approach. As we step into the era of GenAI, the fusion of Conversational AI and Generative AI is redefining customer experiences. NTT DATA's exemplary use cases showcase the tangible impact of GenAI across industries. By overcoming challenges and prioritizing relationships and usability, organizations can harness the full potential of GenAI, making day-to-day lives easier and better for everyone.

This blog serves as a guide for organizations, urging them to embrace progress, experiment with AI technologies and co-create solutions that prioritize practicality and user-centric experiences. In doing so, we pave the way for a future where GenAI becomes an integral part of our daily lives, enhancing interactions, personalization and overall satisfaction.

Vijay Krishnanji

Vijay Krishnanji

Director, Digital Innovation & Customer Experience,
North America Innovation Program, NTT DATA, Inc.

As an accomplished IT and Digital Innovation professional with 18 years of experience, Vijay brings skills and knowledge in digital customer experience, design thinking and AI leadership. Interacting with client and internal teams, he helps to take ideas from insight to impact in an iterative and rapid test and learn approach with emerging and growth stage technologies to help drive growth and other business goals.

This is an initiative of the Innovation Center, Research and Development Headquarters.