The Role of Chatbots in Boosting Brand Loyalty and Experience
As social messaging apps are gaining popularity, AI-powered chatbots are one of the best ways to reach out to a broader audience. Soon, several businesses across various verticals will implement AI chatbots that will help them carry out multiple tasks, including customer service and marketing activities.
According to Gartner, by 2021, over 50% of companies will spend more on developing chatbots (intelligent conversational assistants) against traditional mobile app development.
A chatbot is an AI-based program that communicates with humans through text messages or chats. It is a virtual assistant integrated into mobile applications, websites, or instant messengers and enables better engagement with your customers.
Two common types of chatbot
There are two types of chatbots a business can use: Transactional Chatbot and Conversational chatbot.
- Transactional Chatbot is pre-designed to provide a customer with a fixed set of choices. The customer can select an appropriate option, and the chatbot will then assist them through the whole process by providing more choices till their problem is solved. A transactional chatbot is an excellent choice for banks, online food delivery, restaurants, or businesses that are able to understand and pre-define the solutions/ products that their customers generally seek.
- Conversational Chatbot is designed to understand and respond to a conversation in a more human-like manner. It is equipped with artificial intelligence and has access to knowledge databases and other contextual information.
A conversational chatbot is more suited for businesses with advanced SaaS tools and B2B companies providing enterprise solutions and online social platforms.
Five leading chatbot use cases in vogue today
1. Healthcare chatbots
Hospitals, clinics, and patient treatment centers leverage chatbots for booking appointments, sending medical information to refill prescriptions, answering common questions raised by patients or their attenders, checking physicians’ availability, and so on. According to Crunchbase, VCs have invested over 800 million dollars in at least 14 known start-ups like Safedrugbot, Sensely, Cancer Chatbot, and others to own a version of a chatbot with health features. The most significant advantage is that chatbots function silently 24/7 without disrupting anyone and answering questions at any time of the day.
Browsing through the website of a multispecialty hospital and sifting through the different specialties and doctors can be daunting. Chatbots reduce this strain and help patients book an appointment quickly based on their ailment or health condition. When a patient interacts with the chatbot, it will ask a series of questions to determine which doctor and department the patient should visit.
Example of a healthcare chatbot
Healthily is an AI-driven chatbot that allows you to input your symptoms and get an appropriate diagnosis. Its machine learning model allows the app to give near accurate or even accurate diagnoses.
Chatbots like Healthily prevent patients from waiting in long queues or relying on phone calls to consult doctors. With the ongoing pandemic, chatbots are making patients feel less anxious about seeking medical care. Chatbots help them get assistance in real-time.
2. HR chatbots
As the traditional office spaces give way to modern workspaces that are mobile, digital, or home, HR (PeopleOps) professionals face the increasing pressure to streamline communications and send instant responses to employees. Chatbots powered by AI free people from low value, tedious, repetitive, and transactional tasks to more high-value, strategic, engaging, and creative work. The inherent value extends to providing consistency and coherence to employee communication and reducing confusion for the end-user while delivering an instant response. HRs get more time to rethink the way they engage with employees and manage their entire cycle of work, including recruitment, onboarding, managing payroll and benefits, training and skills development, performance management, and so on.
Example of an HR chatbot
AskHR is an AI-powered HR chatbot that enables employees to get answers to the most frequently asked questions. AskHR bot natively supports 50+ languages and is hence a globally popular virtual assistant. It offers voice, email, and text support to employees and helps reduce costs, enhances employee engagement, and offers analytics to derive valuable insights.
MUSA, Fingent’s AI virtual assistant
Multi Utility Assistant or MUSA is an AI-powered virtual assistant (a chatbot) integrated with Fingent Hub – Fingent’s internal employee management system. MUSA enables employees to get answers to common queries related to HR and IT DevOps processes at Fingent.
The virtual assistant helps our employees with questions related to their leaves, company policy, hardware or software issues, IT requests, and many more.
3. E-commerce chatbots
E-commerce chatbots guide customers in their purchase decisions.
Often, customers can get confused while browsing several products online. An E-commerce chatbot helps customers obtain detailed information about the product they are looking for or even helps them land on the right product page. Chatbots also help reduce cart abandonment as they can remind customers about the items left in their cart and prompt them to update their cart or purchase the items. Timely reminders and notifications will nudge the customers to revisit their carts and make a purchase decision, thereby helping businesses generate revenue quickly.
Example of an E-commerce chatbot
While launching its AirMax Day shoes, Nike increased its average CTR by 12.5 times and the conversions four times with the help of StyleBot- Nike’s chatbot.
Chatbots play an essential role in providing more reliable and quicker customer support and keeping the customers up-to-date about the delivery status of their purchases.
4. Chatbots in banking and finance
Chatbots are a great addition to any bank or finance institute that prioritizes customer service inclined towards digital interactions.
Chatbots can help users check their account balance, transfer money to other accounts, view the history of transactions, or even locate the closest ATM. In addition, banks are currently using chatbots for marketing activities such as sending customized information about a customer’s savings, investments, etc., and notifying customers about their new products and services.
Example of a BFSI chatbot
In 2018, Bank of America introduced Erica, their AI Chatbot. It helps customers conduct simple actions such as paying bills, receiving credit report updates, view e-statements, and seek financial advice. Recently, Erica’s capabilities have been updated to enable clients to make smarter financial decisions by providing them with personalized insights. Thanks to its budgeting capabilities, Erica users grew to 12.2 million in Q1 2020 compared to 10.3 million in Q4 2019.
5. Hospitality chatbots
The hospitality industry is hugely dependent on customer service, goodwill, reviews, and references. As travelers use multiple channels (website, social media, mobile travel apps, travel aggregator portals, etc.) to look for information, travel and hospitality service providers face stiff competition in disseminating updated content across all media. They need to be available round-the-clock in answering customers or helping with bookings. Chatbots help customers make bookings, gain more information about hotel services, travel packages, and inquire about offers and deals. From check-in to several concierge services such as booking restaurants to activity reservations, chatbots can seamlessly assist customers.
Example of a hospitality chatbot
Quicktext is a popular AI-powered chatbot for hotels that automatically handles 85% of guests in 24 languages and delivers instant response to customer requests across six different channels. In addition, it serves as a messaging hub where hospitality businesses can centrally manage Live Chat, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, SMS, and Booking.com communications.
How can chatbots help your business?
With the rise of emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence and wearable technology, chatbots provide industries with new avenues for businesses to engage with their customers.
1. Leverage messaging platforms
While social media engages audiences, messaging platforms enable businesses to have a one-on-one conversation with their customers. So, by integrating chatbots with your messaging platform, you could eliminate the need to build a new app and save time and money.
2. Customer service
Chatbots are a great way to augment customer service. The bots are available 24x7x365, which allows them to initiate the conversation proactively and prevent customers from waiting for long.
3. Customer engagement
Intelligent chatbots allow you to have more in-depth conversations at an individual level with your audiences, freeing them of any irrelevant information. So, a well-designed chatbot can extend the conversation and make the visitor come back for a discussion or a purchase. This can go a long way in establishing your brand loyalty.
4. Cost optimization
Getting a chatbot for your business is far cheaper and faster than developing a cross-function app or hiring additional employees. Chatbots do not need breaks, get tired, or make errors. Also, they can perform repetitive tasks without complaining.
Develop a custom chatbot for your business application
Chatbots are being widely used across different business functions and are augmenting customer experience. With advances in technology, bots will only get more competent and open new avenues to streamline customer communications.
We build bespoke and personalized chatbots leveraging AI and machine learning that enable your business to generate leads, increase revenue, and enhance user experience. If you are planning to develop a customized chatbot that can compete with the predefined bots in the market, contact us.
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A Comparison of Top 5 NLP Platforms: Select Your Chatbot Development Platform Wisely
The surge of artificial intelligence-based applications and conversational AI have heightened the use of NLP (Natural Language Processing). Each day, businesses collect an enormous amount of structured and unstructured data from their customers and users. Such information is collected through chatbots, intelligent assistants, and so on. Analyzing these data offers businesses insights into crucial operations and enhances their decision-making. However, manually inferring insights from tons of data is a challenging endeavor. This is where NLP platforms plays a vital role. This article will help you evaluate five different NLP platforms you can consider while developing a chatbot for your business support functions.
How Does NLP Platforms Help Businesses
Gartner and IDC report that more than 80% of the enterprise data generated today is unstructured. Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology helps us derive meaning from the vast labyrinth of online data. NLP refers to applying several computational techniques that enable us to do analysis and synthesis of natural language and speech. According to a report by Intrado GlobeNewswire, the NLP market is expected to be work USD 42.04 billion by 2026.
Chatbots are software applications that help us conduct conversations online via text or text-to-speech instead of directly communicating with a human agent.
Chatbots provide a better service experience to customers by responding to customer queries promptly, accurately, and most importantly, like humans. AI-powered chatbots can be trained to learn from data to respond in different and diverse scenarios.
However, picking the right chatbot platform can be a gigantic task. Here’s an analysis of five NLP platforms. Choose your chatbot development platform wisely.
1. IBM Watson Assistant
A pioneer in the chatbot market, IBM’s Watson Assistant has evolved into a holistic customer care product. As the pandemic weighed heavily on businesses, customers and employee services were challenged in unimaginable ways. IBM Watson Assistant is designed to solve customer and employee challenges, so its relevance became even more significant during this time. Using IBM Watson Assistant to create your chatbot helps in the following ways:
First contact resolution
Resolving questions quickly and successfully is one of the biggest priorities of Watson Assistant. One of the critical challenges of first contact is user engagement. If that is your concern, here is how Watson contact can help:
- Allows integration with the phone, SMS, and WhatsApp: As it can integrate with phone and SMS, you can deploy speech services with natural sounding voices created with the help of advanced AI.
- Best intent recognition accuracy: Watson Assistant helps you understand your customers’ questions without always requesting them to rephrase the question.
Watson Assistant is designed as an open ecosystem. It, therefore, allows you to connect with your existing tools, systems, and applications. Besides, it gives you the ability to orchestrate the end-to-end experience.
Scale your assistant to increase complex use cases
Watson Assistant allows you to scale your virtual assistant beyond simplistic FAQ bots. It can be customized easily to fit the specific needs of your business.
Use cases: Companies such as Botanalytics, Ebix, and SnapEngage use Watson Assistant.
2. Amazon Lex
Amazon Lex allows you to create and embed engaging chatbots into your applications, shielding you from the complexities of NLU (Natural Language Understanding) and speech recognition. Here are some of the top features of Amazon Lex.
The capabilities of Amazon Lex are simple and easy to use, allowing you to scale up from ground zero to a fully operational chatbot within a matter of minutes. Using a combination of aliases and versioning, you can roll out your conversational interfaces into multiple environments.
Amazon Lex has no upfront costs. You can pay-as-you-go.
Fully managed service
It provides all the necessary features to build, deploy, scale, and monitor your chatbot.
Business use cases
- Commerce chatbot: Allows you to order food
- Support chatbot: Provides automated customer support
- Enterprise chatbot: This allows you to connect to enterprise data resources
- Use cases of Companies: Lumeneo.com, Paralect, and CommonBond use Amazon Lex.
Rasa platform is an open-source framework. It is leading in ML toolkits that help developers create better chatbots with minimal training data. The two major components of the Rasa stack are Rasa NLU and Rasa Core. Rasa core helps create intelligent, conversational chatbots.
It is best for businesses that are looking to increase subscriber engagement and for those who are interested in marketing automation and personalization.
The benefits of Rasa are:
- You can deploy into your own server by keeping the components in-house
- Highly customizable
- Allows for multiple environments necessary for development, staging, and production
- It helps you send individualized newsletters to each of your subscribers
- It continues to self-learn when it interacts with people
- It allows you to understand your customers better
- It can be integrated with Facebook Messenger, Twilio, Telegram, and more
Spacy is an open-source NLP library that is designed for production usage. It helps you build real-world projects and handle large amounts of text data. It is a one-stop operation for most heavy-hitting functions for NLP.
It is best for companies that are bootstrapping a vast production or for vendors in charge of enterprise solutions. It has proven highly useful for companies that require industry-level solutions and need enhanced language support.
Some of the benefits of SpaCy are:
- It easily allows deep data mining
- It does not weigh down the user with obscure formulas
- It can analyze text quicker than its competitors
- Enables businesses to implement strategies to interact with customers and leads
- It is capable of working with over twenty languages
- Allows you to handle NLP solutions across an international suite of languages.
- It is a powerhouse for every deep learning algorithm with the tools you need to teach your programs human language.
5. Microsoft Azure
Microsoft Azure bot service helps you develop, deploy and host a chatbot in an uncomplicated manner. It is a managed bot-building platform with an integrated environment. It is purpose-built for bot development.
Microsoft Azure bot services are best for enterprises and IT companies.
- It helps run FQAs speedily and consistently reducing customer management issues
- Easy to integrate with various Azure services
- You can build, connect, test, deploy and manage intelligent bots from one place
- Easy to integrate with other chatbot software such as Jabber or Skype
Why choose Fingent as your chatbot development partner?
Acquire estimates that nearly 1.4 billion people are willing to talk to chatbots. Did you know that chatbots can handle 80% of routine customer questions? These figures prove that the chatbot platform is the present and future of your business.
However, it is important to choose a chatbot development partner carefully. We at Fingent ensure your chatbot platform is easy-to-use even for non-tech employees. A customized and fine-tuned chatbot frees people up from low value, boring, repetitive, and transactional tasks. It enables your employees to focus on high-value, strategic, engaging, and creative work. The business value also lies in that the chatbot provides consistency and coherence to your communication, reduces/ eliminates confusion for the end-user while giving an instant response. It helps your employees get things done fast as they need not worry about the low value, boring, repetitive, and transactional tasks. Thanks to chatbot development!
We will work with you through all the stages, from requirements identification, technology selection to planning and implementation. We will continue to support you in managing the chatbot after deployment. While you zero down on the chatbot platform, choosing the right partner to help you develop the chatbot according to your specific requirements is essential. Give us a call, and let us get talking.
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How relevant are chatbots in today’s business landscape?
Apart from merely acting as conversational interfaces to deal with customer queries, do they help your business flourish with improved sales and new revenue streams? Yes, without doubt, and specifically if it comes powered by state of the art AI.
In this digital age, your valued customers are constantly on the lookout for personalized services. Structuring the experiences, chiefly customer service in a rather consistent and proactive way backed by data analytics will enable personalization on a much deeper level.
AI-powered chatbots will do that just one step smarter. Whether it’s round the clock customer support or driving engagement with advanced analytics, chatbots will minimize the role of human agents and do away with contact centers for delivering an uninterrupted customer service experience.
The outcome: better engagement, reduced churn rates, and overall sales growth.
Thereby, capitalizing on chatbots has turned out the need of the hour, especially if you wish to deliver augmented customer experiences and automate several of your critical business functions.
As a solutions provider, we did experiment with chatbots upon the request of our client . After extensive consultations, Fingent developed an AI-enabled chatbot to foster an engaging learning experience for the students.
Related Reading: 5 Ways Chatbots Can Transform Your Real Estate Business
AI Chatbots Fulfill a Broader Role in Organizations
Besides customer support and engagement, chatbots can undertake several tasks that need consideration. Its key role, however, is to serve as a replacement for tasks deemed repetitive and time-consuming. These include:
Automating Repetitive Tasks
Repetitive tasks take up time and redirect your efforts from areas that demand more attention. Deploying chatbots is one way to automate a multitude of recurring business functions within your company. In customer service, chatbots can readily take over the process of engaging basic customer inquiries round the clock and automatically redirect more complex interactions to human agents. AI bots also enable automation into your organization’s IT helpdesk to instantly provide answers based on your employee queries or FAQs. Besides, it can even offer IT support like a password reset without the need to consult with the IT team.
Our work with the client yielded a similar AI chatbot dubbed as a “virtual teaching assistant”, which allowed the students to interact, ask queries and get the relevant teaching materials, syllabus and schedules related to their curriculum 24/7. Thereby it serves as a replacement for the primitive methods utilized like forums where the instructor would need to answer a particular question several times repetitively.
Streamlining Lead Generation
As a salesperson, you may find it difficult to move customers through the sales funnel. With incoming cold leads, the process requires a coordinated approach to obtain successful conversions. You can assign chatbots to take over this process since they are more capable when it comes to creating engaging customer experiences. By analyzing the communication flow, chatbots deliver an interactive experience for active engagement, have quicker response rates, facilitate a friction-free experience and are available throughout the day.
Besides, AI chatbots rely on data leftover from previous customer interactions, which helps you better understand customer preferences and tastes, thereby helping out target future communications and recommendations that are highly effective in transforming and converting the potential cold leads into actual customers.
Gathering Details for Lead Targeting
Incoming leads never wait for your time and may bounce back if they find no signs of engagement. If you are away or the helpdesk personnel fails to respond, an alternate strategy is to collect basic details from the incoming leads to follow back at another convenient time. Gathering basic details from initial conversations like the client company size, budget or whatever the salespeople collect with their usual template from incoming leads is a routine task that might be tiring for your sales personnel.
Assigning a chatbot to do this task is a good way to make sure all the key details from incoming leads are collected and stored for later reference. Chatbots can engage with multiple leads at any time of the day and give them a consistent experience throughout, which sets the initial stage for successful conversions.
However, it does in no way imply that human intervention is to be completely left out. There is always the risk of possible mistakes made by the chatbot that will result in losing your potential leads. Certain measures like handing over the process to a human agent at the right time for taking charge over the lead conversion process should strictly be incorporated into the bot’s layout.
Substituting Contact Us Forms
Whether it be a standard contact form for business inquiries or feedback form or even surveys regarding a particular service, chatbots can take over the process and seamlessly guide the user through the process. Most websites still use forms containing multiple fields that must be manually filled with information, which is annoying to most users and thus indirectly contribute to rising bounce rates. The data obtained from contact forms are crucial for companies to create individual customer profiles for reorienting their services for the better.
AI bots, on the other hand, eliminate the need to manually enter information in the required fields by replacing it with engaging conversations. By gathering all the details concerning each customer that it engages with, an AI bot can gather data needed for the forms through initiating natural conversations. Besides, an intelligent chatbot can prolong the conversation and obtain more data from a customer as well as even try guiding them to other services/product landing pages, which is not possible through a generic form. This ultimately saves your customer’s valuable time and boosts engagement, which reflects back through increased conversions.
Chatbot Building and Integration Platforms Keeps Multiplying
It is now far easier to build and deploy chatbots thanks to the wider availability of chatbot development and publishing platforms. Both serve as tools and applications designed to create, test, train and deploy chatbots for use across varied business front-end operations. Understanding the slated differences between the two is vital.
A chatbot development platform is a tool or application used to build a chatbot from scratch. Using a bot development platform gives developers more room to add extra functionality into the chatbot like machine learning, API integration, and conversational flows.
Some popular enterprise chatbot development platforms include:
- IBM Watson Assistant
- Microsoft Azure Bot Service
- Google Dialogflow
- Facebook AI
Chatbot development platforms come in two types:
Non-coding Chatbot Platforms
Platforms that do not require any first-hand coding knowledge. It’s pretty basic and even novice programmers can start building their own chatbots using various features like drag-and-drop interfaces and other built-in resources.
E.g. – Chatfuel, Botsify, Flow XO, KITT.AI
Coding Chatbot Platforms
Platforms that require little or intermediate coding knowledge and skills. Comes integrated with a wider array of technological frameworks giving developers an edge when it comes to creating remarkable conversational interfaces inbuilt with AI. Coding development platforms chiefly find use in creating intelligent bots with extended capabilities and integration into CRM or other systems in an organization.
E.g. – IBM Watson, amazon lex, Wit.ai, Dialogflow, Microsoft Bot Framework
Building Chatbots from Scratch
You can also build a chatbot without depending on any platform. This would require specialized coding knowledge and skills to use development methods that include deep learning, Python libraries like NLTK, sci-kit learn, etc. Here, the development team will have total control over the bot’s learning curve.
Related Reading: Chatbot Security Measures You Need To Consider
Chatbot Publishing/Integration Platform
A chatbot publishing platform, on the other hand, is the medium through which the chatbot is made accessible to the users.
A few examples are:
- Your business website/ web application
- Facebook Messenger
- Google Assistant
We chose IBM Watson to create and deploy the bot for our client owing to the robustness, scalability, multi-language support and natural language processing capabilities of the platform.
After settling on a development or publishing platform, obviously, the next thing when it comes to creating a chatbot is to ensure that it contains all the elements that make it intelligent and conversational. The key aspects that round off a chatbot should be well defined beforehand so that it remains beneficial to you and your customers.
The Prerequisites of Building an Enterprise-grade Chatbot
Getting started with building a chatbot require a coordinated approach. First and foremost, you should remain clear of the intention behind deploying a chatbot. Will your business really be better off by deploying a chatbot? What function do you attribute the chatbot to take up in your organization? Is it a replacement for customer service across various user touchpoints or in a broader sense, to automate several key functions of your business like HR or sales.
Whatever the use case may be, there exist several key attributes to adhere closely when building a chatbot. As the technology partner for our client, our work with AI chatbots did present us with an entirely different note on the how-tos of building and deploying chatbots having remarkable conversational interfaces. Out of these takeaways, here are some noteworthy points to take care while building a chatbot for your business.
Design a Fluid Conversational UI
A well structured conversational UI stays at the core of any chatbot program. A sound conversational interface delivers a truly frictionless experience for the user across different touchpoints where it is deployed. By using an interface centered around language, conversational UI brings more ease and proximity in the interactions between the chatbot and its users than what is obtained through syntax-based commands or icons.
Pinpoint the Target Audience
Defining the target audience, which the bot is intended to serve stays in line with the actual purpose that the bot will serve. To do that, you should begin with clustering the targeted group and then bring into the picture their needs and expectations. The bot’s persona and abilities should remain in sync with the needs of the target audience, whether it is answering basic queries or guiding the user access services, making purchases, provide information, etc.
More importantly, the age group which the user category belongs also have a determining role since it helps structure the interactions of the bot in such a way so that it remains consistent with the age of the user. For a target audience well beyond 60+ years of age, the bot should engage with them differently than they would do to a teenager.
Apply Domain Knowledge or Specialization
Domain knowledge roughly translates to the knowledge and deep understanding of a specialized field or discipline. When applied to chatbots, domain knowledge brings a sense of purpose regarding the function that it is geared at whether it be assisting your customers to get answers to their inquiries or with lead scoring for guiding customers through each step of the sales funnel. It is actually learning, training and understanding through every interaction or task and then iterating for rapid improvisations in engagement and functionality.
Provide a Distinct Personality
Building chatbots devoid of any personality traits make it dull and robotic, which never interest the user to take any action, least create trustworthiness. Giving a distinct personality into the chatbot that you build remain pivotal as it represents your company’s unique branding to the customer first hand and creates engagement on a personal level. Weaving the personality based on the target customer that it serves, alongside giving it personality traits like a sense of humor, wit or even sweet sounding contributes significantly in providing a delightful customer experience.
Enable Quick Transfer to Human Agents
Bots, however, advanced they may seem with AI and NLP can at times remain incapable or even falter when engaging with customers. Switching to a human agent at the exact time is one way to prevent your customers from getting frustrated and leave while still providing the assistance that they seek. When designing a bot for customer service, it is mandatory to put into place the procedures that ensure a seamless transition to a live human agent whenever the customer becomes irate or dissatisfied with the bot’s interactions.
Acknowledge the User at Every Input
While designing the bot, it is downright important to add a built-in response mechanism that automatically acknowledges every single user input. When a user types in a query or for other information, the bot should first recognize the input and give immediate feedback. Failing at this can leave the user uncertain whether the bot has actually understood the given input. By creating a means to recognize the user input through a return message or greeting, the bot will appear more engaging and human-like to the users.
What to Avoid when Designing a Chatbot
Building a chatbot step by step can turn futile if one fails to understand the specific things or mistakes to avoid. Being a challenging process, bot development comes with its own pitfalls extending into every stage of the building process right from conception to maintenance, which is something developers need to be aware of.
Here are some of the common mistakes to avoid while designing a chatbot:
Avoid Conversational Roadblocks and Looping
In certain situations, a chatbot can fail to provide answers to the user and would end up repeating the same responses over and over thus creating a loop. If not dealt with immediately, such conversational loops can frustrate the user causing them to exit. Besides, such roadblocks leave the user unable to continue with the chat thereby prompting them to refresh the conversation and start everything from the beginning.
When designing a chatbot, it is downright important to eliminate any instances of looping with the exception of feedback loops by rigorous testing before it is made available to the users.
Beyond that, a chatbot should never force the user to repeat or structure the questions differently in order to understand the intent. Rather, the chatbot should be able to understand all the different types of questions and not just the samples it was trained on to provide the right answer.
However, confirming if the provided response was helpful to the user is a good way in which the chatbot would be able to learn and evolve over time. Rigorous testing to cover all possible chat flows of the user will help you avoid such instances of roadblocks and looping.
Missing Out on Testing Prior to Release
Failing to subject the bot to several phases of testing is one thing to avoid when building chatbots. Testing a bot for any discrepancies can help identify potential bugs or errors that affect the quality of its interactions. The testing phases go through the developer, functional and user aspects to assess the speed, accuracy, intent, and conversational flows of the bot for making it flawless prior to release.
Opting the Wrong API
Drag and drop bot development frameworks may work easy but comes with severe limitations. That does not mean settling on a coding platform to start building your bot from scratch, which has its own drawback of higher turnaround times. The right approach is to opt for a framework that balances all these features with the ability to customize them depending on the task. Bot building frameworks like IBM Watson contains a mix of the two and is preferred over basic builder platforms.
Poor Design and Build
Poor design accounts for several issues that may crop up once the chatbot is deployed and made live. It may lead to inconsistencies in the interactions, forcing users to exit causing an increase in bounce rates. Bad design contributes to a cluttered user experience that interferes with seamless navigation through the predefined conversational flows. Understanding the scope of the bot and then working on building a hassle-free interface can resolve the issue.
Elements that Define the Brain of an AI Chatbot
In a chatbot, certain elements present commonly dictate the functioning and help the bot understand the user input to provide the appropriate answer. The concept guiding all chatbot building platforms is to train the bot using Q/A pairs as represented by the following elements:
Intent – Identifying the intention of a user query
Entity – Identifying the entity in the user’s intent to understand the intent further
Dialog – Response provided to the user for the identified intent and entity
To better understand the intent, entity, and dialog, consider a chatbot integrated with Alexa at your home.
Turn off the Lights, Turn off the Music, Turn off the TV are all user commands with the same intent – “Turning Off”
Lights, Music, TV are the entities based on which Alexa decides what needs to be turned off.
The response Dialog from Alexa would be entirely dependent on the intent and entity, which produces the following output – “Hi, turning off music for you.”
Deviating from the conventions governing the functioning of rule-based bots, AI chatbots goes an extra mile when it comes to the quality of interactions. Put side by side, it is easy to distinguish between an ordinary bot and an AI customer assistant.
The former is severely limited in functionality and lags behind when it comes to creating engaging customer experiences. The latter is more adept at interacting with multiple customers and delivers human-like conversations by wrapping a layer of personalization.
Besides, AI bots contain a few extra elements, which gives them their natural conversing abilities and customer service automation capabilities such as:
Natural Language Processing (NLP)
Natural language processing gives chatbots the ability to carry on natural conversations with humans. It enables the bot to interpret the user input and provide responses accordingly. An NLP enabled bot can seamlessly understand the intent, entity, and context of the user commands to render accurate matching responses that carry on the conversations in a smooth flow free from any interruptions.
An intelligent bot derives its ability to instantaneously supply information to every user request while moving through the sense-think-act cycle using a knowledge base. Simply put, a knowledge base acts as a repository for the trained data sets and the data gathered by the bot through every user interaction. This accumulated data acts as a source for the bot to pick the relevant information upon request as well as to multiply its learning capability.
Quick and After-hours Support
Anytime engagement is possible with an AI-based customer assistant owing to its round the clock availability. Engagement must happen at any time of the day whether human agents are behind the desk or not. AI customer assistants can reach out and retain customers at any given time thus minimizing or eliminating the chances for any miss outs. Even after elapsing conventional working hours, an intelligent bot can provide constant after-hours support to field multiple customer inquiries for acknowledging their requests/queries.
Services tailored to individual needs have ratcheted up in demand. AI bots can do well to provide the user exactly what he/she needs by creating highly personalized experiences. Getting acquainted with a user and gradually moving up the level of interactions into a more personal level makes the customer feel valued. One way chatbots do this is by recalling the specific context derived from previous conversations.
Ideally, a well-designed chatbot should able to look back on the data trails leftover from previous user interactions to minimize the need for the user to repeat the things that they have already mentioned before. By training the bot with relevant questions and leveraging user data from past interactions will spruce up the interaction level and usher in truly personalized experiences that trigger successful conversions.
Chatbots Finds Application in Diverse Areas
Chatbots make it easier to get a specific task done. There is no need to have a separate app since it is possible to ask the bot directly via any messaging platforms that it is compatible with. Besides automating customer service, chatbots have acquired a renewed role and have forayed into several areas linked to our lifestyles. Its applications have broadened from pushing content to making payments, getting recommendations, etc. Some of these include:
Ordering food from your favorite restaurants is easier with chatbots. Major fast food chains have already deployed chatbots that allows its customers to place orders by initiating conversations. Its relatively easier and do away with the need to have a separate app. A user can order food directly by asking the bot, which will then easily guide through the rest of the process like showing up the current menu, finishing with the payment and tracking the delivery status in real-time.
Whether getting reservations for dinner at your preferred restaurant, to booking flight or movie tickets, chatbots can turn it simpler and interesting. Rather than having to go through an app and tediously follow around, a chatbot delivers a hands-free experience (if the bot supports voice commands) or a minimal interface to quickly search, compare and book tickets all via natural conversations.
Curated content is on the rise and chatbots can help with the filtered dissemination of information based on user interests. Top media and news organizations are now integrating chatbots across popular messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger to deliver content like news, insights, blogs and how-to guides by understanding user preferences. Users can get the latest content right away by conversing with the bot without installing separate apps or searching the web.
Chatbots integrated into e-commerce platforms can guide customers to make informed decisions related to their purchase faster. It enables a more convenient shopping experience as customers can search and shop by conversing with the bot via text or voice. The use of conversational assistants in such shopping portals will give rise to improved personalization of their services, which ultimately adds to customer satisfaction and help them get the right products meeting their wants and needs via recommendations.
As organizations are increasingly lean towards a data-driven approach, chatbots have found immense scope and application in departments like HR. Rather than putting people behind painstaking hiring processes like candidate screening, a chatbot can very well take over this task to reduce the burden and thereby free the personnel for attending other crucial functions. Moreover, getting a chatbot to partly handle HR will also assist with fielding basic inquiries made by the employees thus giving way to quicker response rates and more convenience in the process.
We did work on an internal chatbot for automating a few of the functions related to our HR department. Already in use, this chatbot is successful in providing assistance to the HR team by giving first level support to the employees around the clock in areas like onboarding, circulating training documents, and employee assessments.
Will Chatbots Ever Replace Humans?
With Gartner estimating that 25 percent of all customer service operations will take place through virtual customer assistants (VCA) by 2020, it is without a doubt that chatbots and AI will positively disrupt how organizations deal with their processes and operations. Research into its potential value reveals that chatbots alone can help businesses save about 30 percent on customer service costs. Besides, the advancements in the field have elevated human-computer interactions to new heights, where the lines have started to blur.
So, will chatbots eventually do away with the need for human skills and labor?
The answer: No.
Chatbots are never intended as a replacement for human skills. Its fundamental role, however, is to serve as a means to augment the human skills in whatever function that it takes up, whether it is in personalizing customer service or automating certain areas of your business like HR, sales, marketing, etc.
Call centers or other organizational front-ends cannot function without adequate backends in the form of human agents. Besides, achieving true human-like conversation is still miles away and may very well turn out an unrealizable prospect. Considering the high efficiency of chatbots in handling certain tasks, it can function better on a limited scale rather than taking over entirely. Meanwhile, giving a bot full authority over specific tasks does possess security risks that may negatively affect your organization.
Moreover, human skill is still and will be in the future an indispensable irreplaceable element. This also means that none of us need to worry about AI bots being an existential threat to our jobs. Rest assured, AI will never completely replace humans in the foreseeable future.