The Complete Guide to Conversational AI

Conversational AI is a technology used for automating customer service responses. By using AI customer service solutions, companies can quickly respond to inquiries using a self-service chatbot or intelligent virtual assistant (IVA).


Group of people looking at a computer

Conversational AI has helped Verint customers to:

  • Save $1 million

    on how-to inquiries in just one year

  • Handle 80%

    of all customer requests with an intelligent virtual assistant

  • Contain 48%

    of inbound volume in the first month of deploying a conversational AI solution

What is conversational AI?

Conversational artificial intelligence (AI) has quickly become one of the most impactful technologies that’s used across industries to more quickly connect people with the information they need. This could be a customer using a chatbot on their health insurance website or a traveler booking a flight over a voice-enabled virtual assistant or a contact center agent using an automated assist tool to track down account details for a banking customer.

Today’s most sophisticated conversational AI adds human-like conversations across every engagement channel a customer or employee may choose, delivering effortless, personalized experiences. Conversational AI is the technology that powers these interactions across channels – on chatbots or virtual assistant or intelligent assistant.

Conversational AI better combines cutting-edge natural language processing, machine learning, and robust analytics working within customers’ existing application ecosystem to automate more customer and employee interactions. In recent years, these interactions are happening in more spaces to help more people – from the home, the workplace, to the virtual marketplace.

What are the benefits of conversational AI?

Verint is one of the world’s leading conversational AI companies, and with decades of experience and the data to back it up, we’ve continued to expand the scope of what conversational AI can accomplish. Today, an intelligent virtual assistant (IVA) powered by Verint Conversational AI can provide end-to-end service in order to:

  • Answer questions 24/7 across any channel and in a variety of languages
  • It can personalize experiences with unique offers and resources
  • Go beyond simple FAQs providing dynamic customer experiences that shift due to intent with no predefined path
  • Triage and escalate seamlessly to human channels (IDK vs. Business decision)
  • Configure to support employees and engage customers
  • Provide actionable service – like booking a flight or making an appointment with a medical provider

Ask Julie gives Amtrak travelers instant service while delivering impressive results

Learn how Amtrak leverage the power of Verint Conversational AI to achieve an 8x return on chatbot investment

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"Over 5 million questions are answered by Ask Julie annually. With Julie, waiting for service is a thing of the past, as she's easily capable of simultaneously serving the needs of every visitor."

What’s the difference between conversational AI vs. chatbot vs. intelligent virtual assistant?

The speed at which AI-powered self-service technology has evolved, coupled with the rapid adoption of conversational AI for vastly different uses in just about every industry, has led to some confusion. Here’s a question Verint experts are frequently asked when we begin working on a conversational AI project:

“So, what’s the difference between a chatbot and an intelligent virtual assistant?”

Well, it depends on who you ask (and WHEN you asked them). In fact, some people will tell you that in today’s market the terms are synonymous, and as the technology evolves, we may see the terms used interchangeably. But traditionally here’s how we’ve delineated between the two at Verint:

  • Chatbots are typically viewed as simple, question-and-answer bots that are deployed to perform relatively simple tasks. These chatbots operate on rules-based systems that handle more basic and specific tasks.
  • Now, intelligent virtual assistants (IVAs), on the other hand, are powered by natural language understanding (NLU), making them a more capable tool. An IVA also uses machine learning to continually improve by understanding a customer’s true intent based on the words they typed or spoke to the assistant. In short, an IVA is a next-level chatbot that is able to grow, evolve, and adapt to your business’s needs over time.
See Verint IVA in Action

How is conversational AI used for customer service?

Delivering a great conversational CX is key to any company that wants to mitigate contact center costs by allowing customers to self-serve on their own schedule and on their own terms. By using AI-based chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants, organizations can free up their contact center agents to perform more high-level tasks by reducing average handle time and deflecting calls through self-service.

Some of the world’s biggest brands are using Verint Conversational AI to deliver delightful customer experiences. Here is what a conversational AI-powered Verint IVA can do for customers across industries:

  • Help pay a bill
  • Help reset a password or username
  • Book a flight or train ticket
  • Find information about a medication
  • Ask about local government services
  • Find a medical provider
  • Schedule an appointment
  • Ask for roadside assistance in an emergency
  • Find details about your insurance policy
  • Receive proactive information about your travel schedule
  • And much more…

Do customers like using chatbots?

As of 2021, conversational AI technologies – from smart speakers to enterprise IVAs – are widespread enough that most people have interacted with an AI chatbot or IVA in some form. There are certain traits pertaining to chatbots that previous research affirms consumers love. There are other elements, however, that customers are still learning to love.

At Verint, we wanted to know more about how people are using conversational AI, which is why we published “Conversational AI Barometer: Chatbots and Next-Gen AI,” a comprehensive study that ultimately showed us the current state of digital self-service.

One of the things we learned, was that people do, indeed, enjoy using conversational chatbots and intelligent virtual assistants. This survey of U.S. consumers aged 18-65 found that a mere 9 percent said they’d never engage with a conversational AI intelligent assistant. That’s a remarkably low figure and encouragement that people are ready for conversational AI.

Historically, there’s been much less trust in chatbots and their capabilities when customers need assistance with more complex issues. But our research found that when customers have experiences with virtual assistants and chatbots that provide them with the outcomes they need, they’re more inclined to engage with conversational AI in the future.

In other words, good conversational AI customer experiences make for more loyal conversational AI users.

Read the Conversational AI Barometer

Why is conversational AI a good investment?

The organizations and enterprises that choose Verint Conversational AI and deploy a Verint IVA solution enjoy immediate contact center savings Verint has the most robust toolset in the industry. Our conversational AI has components that leverage both supervised and unsupervised learning. We use different tools and processes pending run-time vs near real time in order to secure the best experience.

One of our travel industry partners used its conversational AI-powered IVA to generate $4.5 million in revenue during the first seven months of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. And even though their customer service had shifted so sharply to a conversational AI-powered tool, they saw their CSAT scores rise by more than 5 percent.

Part of any project is to use our Conversational Analytics to derive key insights. The tools can be used to help a new client find the topics that their customers care about or where their agents are struggling.

Once launched, the data from the conversations and data from other sources, like surveys, can be used to continuously refine the language model, self-service, and speech recognition.

Conversational analytics analyzes large volumes of data to identify optimal areas for the intelligent assistant to address. This allows for a fast ROI based on existing, unstructured data from human-to-human conversations such as call logs or chat transcripts. It uses an unsupervised model with heurist rules in a Markov Random Field.

Intent analytics is a powerful language classification tool that streamlines the analysis of large volumes of natural language conversations. This tool prioritizes what the intelligent assistant should know by evaluating the users’ needs against the business objectives to ensure your solution supports the business and is helpful for users. This tool performs multiple types of automated analysis to surface commonalities and allows the analyst to review recommendations. The visual map depicts the categories that are most important. This tool uses logistic regression to build classifiers to classify the utterances by intent.

Learn More About Verint Conversational AI

Discover Verint's Conversational AI Solutions

  • Conversational AI

    Elevate customer experience and improve operational efficiency with the leader in enterprise self-service solutions for your customers and employees.
  • Intelligent Virtual Assistant

    Put conversational AI to work for your business with Verint’s market-leading voice and digital intelligent virtual assistant (IVA).

Go Deeper on Conversational AI