Driven by new technological innovations, Artificial Intelligence (AI) translation holds the promise to reshape the customer experience by transforming conversation channels, increasing agent efficiency, and reducing the need for language specialist talent. Read on to learn about the potential for the CXM industry as well as the obstacles that need to be overcome before AI platforms can eventually replace human agents.
While machine translation (MT) has been used for more than five decades, recent developments in AI and neural machine translation models have sparked new interest in AI translation to improve customer experience.
Today’s AI engines are being trained to translate 1000-plus human languages in real time and develop the ability to understand large volumes of text data. These innovations are revolutionizing the CXM industry by increasing agent efficiency and accuracy.
While the advances have just started and developing the ability to translate instantaneous voice conversations will take some time, AI translation’s potential is generating a lot of excitement. Let’s explore its promise further.
What is AI translation?
AI translation is a machine translation process using complex algorithms to understand the source data in its original language and translate it into a wide range of other languages.
Advanced AI/ML technology has improved machine translation accuracy, enabling it to better mimic the human brain’s ability to process spoken and written words and comprehend phrases, voice tones, complex sentence structures, and human sentiments.
Impact of AI translation technology on the traditional customer experience management (CXM) industry
With its people-heavy operating model, the traditional CXM industry has always struggled to attract and retain talent, which is especially difficult when language skills also are required.
Many service providers have invested heavily in building multilingual hubs in a broad spectrum of locations and recruiting agents from around the world or in training to improve language proficiency.
However, meeting the vast language and dialect diversification needs across the globe is nearly impossible and puts huge financial pressure on service providers to provide language capabilities in every spoken language a client may require.
This is why AI translation is a real game changer in CXM. It is already transforming conversation channels, increasing agent efficiency, reducing the demand for human language talent, and saving huge operational expenses – and additional opportunities still exist for further development.
Pros and cons of AI translations
Customer satisfaction and agent efficiency are major deciding criteria for companies in selecting a CXM service provider. Research has shown that customers feel more appreciated when they interact with an agent in their native language, positively influencing their buying decisions and increasing customer brand loyalty.
Using AI translation to respond to customers’ queries can offer numerous advantages, including the ability to offer services in many diversified languages and dialects through omnichannel conversation platforms such as chat, email, voice, and social media in the local language.
Other benefits include:
- Increased agent efficiency and speed for agents who may be slower working in a second or third language
- Reduced need for a multilingual talent pool
- Faster time to proficiency of agents
- Decreased need for sites in local countries
Currently, AI translations primarily are used for text data translation. With expanding data libraries and AI engine training, text data translation accuracy is improving rapidly. But to have broader application success, AI translation must:
- Expand beyond simple, repetitive queries
- Gain insight into human emotions and sentiments
- Reduce contextualization errors to improve accuracy
- Acquire a full understanding of local nuances, tone, formality, vernacular, slang, and colloquialism
- Eliminate human supervision
Current AI translation technology can be inefficient and require human assistance to differentiate between normal conversation and exchanges involving humor or sarcasm. The inability to detect humor or sarcasm is less important in a customer service environment, as customers primarily want to resolve their issue. But it can create problems in content moderation where improper translations and misunderstanding the context of dialogues can lead to reputational losses for brands.
Use of AI translation engines in the CXM industry
To overcome these obstacles and benefit from advanced AI translation technology, many service providers leverage human linguists and digital translator tools to optimize resources.
Digital translator tools bring speed and efficiency, while human experts add accuracy and a personal touch. Combined, these solutions boost agent efficiency and performance by using AI for simple and standardized customer inquiries while transferring inquiries in hard-to-serve, low-volume languages to experts, simultaneously solving the problem of speed and accuracy.
Many service providers have partnered with technology providers to develop AI translation tools to serve their clients globally. For example, Concentrix Lingualab and Webhelp Polyglot combine best-in-class translation engines and machine learning tools with highly skilled language experts in centralized hubs to serve as multilingual service delivery centers. Another BPO provider, Majorel, with their Lingua, too combines machine translation, AI, and crowd-based human quality control.
What does the future hold?
Many technology providers are investing in building advanced translation tools to reduce machine translation engines’ dependence on human linguists.
Translation tools’ limitations will get resolved as AI engines build their content library with diverse languages, predictive replies, industry vocabulary, common phrases, knowledge articles, and vernacular, as well as its understanding of human emotions. The automated self-learnability of AI technology makes it possible to eventually replace humans completely.
Many technology giants also are now focusing on advanced speech translation engines. Meta Universal Speech Translator and Google AI language model are building translation engines that can translate more than 1000 languages.
Technology will also need to solve multiple issues to replace robotic voice delivery with the perfect human voice with flawless command over speech delivery speed, dialect, speaking styles, tone, and slang. And before AI agents fully replace humans, they will also need to understand human sentiments to appropriately reply to customers.
As voice translation tools evolve, they can revolutionize the BPO industry by completely replacing human agents with artificial intelligence platforms. But industry leaders estimate fully operational affordable real-time speech translation tools are still five to 10 years away. These advanced tools offer great potential to change CXM service delivery and transform the customer experience.
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