The Art of Conversation Amplified with Artificial Intelligence
Technology can make the difference between one-off interactions and building long-term customer relationships that stand the test of time.
Artificial intelligence (AI) technology has entered every single aspect of our personal and professional lives. Chatbots, purchase suggestions, data crunching, and grammatical corrections are just a few examples of widely used AI applications.
But AI is about the enter a new phase. Rather than taking over simple, repetitive tasks, this technology is set to augment more complex processes - including human conversations. This post will walk through how AI can change how we talk to each other.
The Lost Art of Conversation
When was the last time you had a conversation? By conversation, we don’t mean a quick exchange of messages with a friend or a colleague. What we mean instead is an actual exchange of well-structured arguments, either in person or over the phone.
The point is this: many of us spend much of our day communicating, but we hardly ever have an in-depth conversation. Nearly a decade ago, the British broadcaster BBC talked about how conversation was becoming a lost art that was being replaced by emails, tweets, and text messages.
More recently, author Rebecca Nicholson wrote in the global edition of the Guardian newspaper about her use of messaging apps to talk to others without truly speaking. The art of having a long conversation, or chat, appears to be getting lost in communication.
Whilst this seems ridiculous, it is perhaps not surprising... conversations take time. They require continued focus on the person we’re talking to and the topic we’re talking about, and they rely on some degree of subject knowledge.
How AI Can Help Revive the Art of Conversation
It might seem counterintuitive to be looking to technology to help revive something as personal as a great conversation. But looking at AI technology and especially at AI augmentation soon makes it clear why this approach makes sense.
How AI Augmentation Differs from AI
A decade or so ago, most people would have associated artificial intelligence with robots taking over human tasks. A couple of decades before that, AI was merely the stuff of science fiction movies. Today, every single one of us is using AI-based technology daily.
Moreover, everyday AI has turned out to be something completely different from sci-fi visions. In most cases, AI is useful, helps save time, and is better at some tasks than humans could ever be. The latter is especially true for data analysis.
At this point, AI is entering a new phase. From simply taking care of mundane, repetitive tasks, technology has moved further forward toward true human intelligence. As AI applications are becoming ever more capable, their focus has shifted. Where the goal may have previously been to replace humans, the new goal is to augment complex processes and support human intelligence.
This is where AI augmentation and the art of conversation meet. Some of the biggest, most recent advances in the field of AI have been made in language processing. Chatbots and other applications of voice-based interactions are becoming less robot-like. Their ability to process human language is improving greatly every day.
The drivers behind those improvements are mostly technological advances in deep learning and natural language processing. Both have allowed conversational AI to transform customer services from infuriating (at times) to time-saving and efficient. Experts have noted that even knowledge workers and those on the front-lines in industries like banking, retail, and logistics are using conversational AI.
3 Ways AI Can Augment a Great Conversation
Great conversations can cover almost any subject, but many have a few things in common:
- Great conversations start light
- Great conversations are polite and appropriate
- Conversationalists are listening to each other
AI augmentation can help with all three of these areas.
1. Starting Conversations Lightly
No one likes to spend time in the company of a person who is always complaining and only sees the negatives. Being approachable for a conversation means starting with a light and positive topic. Small talk is often the segway into a deeper conversation.
Granted, not everyone is a natural at making small talk. That is where AI augmentation can help by providing suggestions that make it easier to get a conversation going. Small talk doesn’t need to be meaningless. In fact, a good way to think about this part of a conversation is as a warm-up. You wouldn’t start a heavy workout without preparation. The same goes for a deep, long conversation.
ModuleQ can help jumpstart conversations with your clients and accounts, learn more in this guide: Conversational Sales Guide
2. Staying Polite and Appropriate
Let's be honest, we’re all guilty of using colorful language from time to time, but not everyone is comfortable with that. Having a great conversation or even an argument means being able to get a point across without swearing or being inappropriate.
Great conversationalists can put others at ease, even if their viewpoints of the subject in question differ. AI augmentation can support this polite and comforting approach by providing alternative phrases that avoid inappropriate language without diluting the message.
3. Learn to Listen and Ask Questions
Ask yourself if you really know what the person that you’re talking to is about to say. Humans are often guilty of jumping to conclusions without letting the other person finish what they wanted to say. Great conversationalists listen and ask questions to be sure they have understood their conversation partner. They avoid assumptions. As humans, we’re at a disadvantage here. We’re programmed to choose shortcuts. In this respect, we can learn from AI technology.
Augmented voice-based AI applications simply can’t assume anything you haven’t told them. As long as they’re lacking some information they will continue to ask for details. Likewise, leading AI-based customer service applications to wait for clients to finish what they started saying before speaking themselves.
Applying this approach to a conversation achieves several goals. The person you’re talking to feels valued as a conversation partner, and you will learn more about them than you would have otherwise.
The Potential of AI for Great Conversations
Some of the best conversations move fluidly from one topic to the next. But no one has in-depth knowledge about almost every subject – except AI. Delivering personalized facts you need to keep a conversation going can make the difference between a stimulating conversation and one that is over quickly.
In a personal conversation, AI augmentation can make the difference between a good conversationalist and a great one. In a professional setting, being able to converse with customers supported by AI augmentation can be a game-changer. This technology can make the difference between one-off interactions and build long-term customer relationships that stand the test of time.