This week’s blog will focus on a very under-served language in automated customer service: Czech. So far, Algomo is one of the few companies that has provided Czech-speaking multilingual chatbots. However, as we have seen in the last blog, Natural Language Processing (NLP) is at the centre of recent AI trends. It is only a matter of time before automated customer service in Czech became effective and necessary.
Facts about Czech
Czech is the official language of the Czech Republic, a West Slavic language closely related to Slovak and Polish. Czech is spoken by over 10 million people worldwide. The five countries with the greatest use of Czech were the Czech Republic (98.77 per cent), Slovakia (24.86 per cent), Portugal (1.93 per cent), Poland (0.98 per cent) and Germany (0.47 per cent).
In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the Czech language was heavily influenced by the German language, with many German words and phrases being borrowed and incorporated into Czech. However, after the creation of the independent Czechoslovak Republic in 1918, efforts were made to purify the Czech language and remove these German loanwords.
Today, the Czech language is also one of the 24 official languages of the European Union, which means that it is used in official EU documents and translations.
One of the most interesting features of the Czech language is its use of diacritical marks, which are special symbols added to letters to indicate specific pronunciation. For example, the letter "č" is used to represent a "ch" sound, while the letter "š" represents a "sh" sound. This can make the Czech language challenging for non-native speakers to learn, but it also adds to its charm and uniqueness.
Quite similar to English, Czech is a highly inflected language, meaning that the endings of words are changed to indicate their role in the sentence (such as noun case, verb tense, and so on). In Czech, nouns can have seven different cases, which are used to indicate their function in the sentence (such as the subject, direct object, and so on). Verbs are also inflected in Czech, with different endings used to indicate the tense and aspect of the verb (such as the past, present, or future tense). There are also two different conjugations for verbs, depending on the ending of the infinitive form of the verb.
Customer service in Czech (in the Czech Republic)
Key customer service trends in the Czech Republic
- Online customer services
66% of surveyed Czechs aged 16-65 made an online purchase in the past week 9 (from 2020 Q2). This trend for online shopping and the corresponding rising demand for online customer service is mainly accelerated by the COVID-19 situation like almost every other country in the world.
As people are spending more time in screens, it is becoming increasingly difficult to capture and hold their attention. In order to be successful, businesses must not only have a creative idea but also provide a seamless and personalized user experience and be able to quickly and effectively respond to customer feedback. Simply having a good idea is no longer enough to compete in today's market. (Source: Google)
- Room for improvements
Many companies in the Czech Republic are still struggling to provide high-quality customer service, and customer satisfaction levels can be low. A survey by Google suggests that only 30% of Czech and Slovak brands offer a positive mobile user experience (UX) — meaning over two-thirds still have room for improvement.
This is often due to a lack of training and resources for customer service employees, as well as inadequate policies and procedures for handling customer inquiries and concerns. Additionally, some businesses in the Czech Republic may not prioritize customer service as highly as they should, which can lead to subpar experiences for customers.
Poor customer services have resulted in very negative economic consequences for businesses. A survey by telecommunications firm Genesys estimates that Czech businesses lose 1.08 billion US dollars annually because of substandard customer service.
- Importance of trust (Source: KPMG)
“Trust” permeates customer experience in the Czech Republic. Often consumers approach a brand with the expectation that they'll be misled in some way. This indicates integrity, being the number one influencer for customer loyalty and advocacy, should be the clear goal for organisations to aim for. Additionally, being honest with customers can help avoid misunderstandings and conflicts, and can ultimately save time and resources for both the customer and the business.
Honest customer service is the practice of providing transparent, truthful, and accurate information to customers. This means that your businesses should be upfront and honest with customers about what a company can and cannot offer, and should strive to provide accurate and relevant information to help customers make informed decisions.
This also makes chatbots, like Algomo, a perfect complement for human agents in providing high-quality customer services as AI-empowered chatbots can easily draw on a huge information base to respond to customers quickly and accurately.
Overview of automated customer service in the Czech Republic
Despite the small size of the population speaking Czech, the language is well supported by various building platforms, which has enabled the development of chatbots for use in Czech customer service. Conversational AI platforms such as Waston by IBM and Dialogueflow by Google all support Czech. This is mainly because Czech is included in the Europarl Corpus, a set of European Parliament documents that are used as training data for statistical machine translation. This makes natural language processing (NLP) in Czech feasible and convenient.
However, multilingual chatbots that include Czech are still relatively rare. Algomo is one of the few companies that offers chatbots that can speak up to 109 languages, including Czech. This means that Algomo's chatbots can provide more comprehensive coverage of customer service in multiple languages, allowing your businesses to expand to new markets without having to purchase multiple products for multilingual customer service.
There is a lack of market analysis for automated customer service markets in the Czech Republic. However, many valuable insights can be obtained from market analysis of AI research and development (R&D) there. In general, there is relatively strong momentum for technological developments in automated customer service in the Czech Republic.
In the Czech Republic, there is a relatively strongly developed network of venture capital investors for AI R&D. In 2018, there are almost 40 start-ups in the Czech Republic operating in the field of AI. Some of the start-ups in the AI field have been active in marketing, business management and other sectors. (Source: Office of the Government of the Czech Republic)
A relatively high number of R&D projects in the Czech Republic deal with speech processing. The contemporary technologies in these areas have advanced so much that they are comparable with human performance, and therefore suitable for their applications, such as virtual voice assistants.
Market application sectors
Similar to other governments we have mentioned in other blogs, the government in the Czech Republic has also leveraged chatbots to guarantee the quality of customer service in the public sector.
With an increasing wave of Ukrainians coming to the Czech Republic, IBM and the Ukrainian Embassy in the Czech Republic announced a virtual assistant “E-konzul” that would provide relevant information to Ukrainian citizens in the Czech Republic. The chatbot answers relevant questions related to registration, visa, employment, travel, notary services etc. Getting accurate information quickly to people in a humanitarian crisis is crucial. AI-powered virtual assistants can help organizations integrate conversational interfaces into the applications, devices, or channels that people use to access information. This can help ensure that people have access to the information they need in a timely and efficient manner.
NTT, a leading global technology services company, announced the launch of its ‘Koronabot’ in the Czech Republic. This chatbot is designed to be mainly used in the healthcare sector and can be easily embedded in any website. Local hospitals or organisations who want to provide visitors to their websites, with information about the ongoing healthcare situation can now use this special chatbot, at no charge. The application aims to ease the workload of dealing with repetitive questions about COVID-19 and provide answers to thousands of people at the same time.
Coworkers.ai is a leader in the Czech market providing its own intelligent chatbots and voice bots. Coworkers.ai managed to create its own technology for natural language processing (NLP) based on artificial intelligence which allows its products to be “smarter” than others and can solve more complex requests. The area of focus of Coworkers.ai includes healthcare and finance. In 2021, the startup's turnover was around half a million US dollars. Its great potential in serving the Czech automated customer service market has attracted a lucrative acquisition deal by global technology company Daketla at millions of dollars.
Czech is a relatively underserved language in the automated customer service market. However, the Czech Republic government provides relatively strong and diverse support for AI developments. This provides momentum for applications of chatbots in more sectors of the economy. If your businesses are operating across different regions speaking more than one language, it is important to choose a multilingual chatbot that covers a sufficient range of languages, especially considering underserved languages like Czech.