Chatbots are a clear manifestation that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is moving the hype. We see more and more business applications where chatbots with self-learning capabilities can interact with humans in a more natural way. We can also observe growing sophistication and accuracy of AI which makes chatbots more robust and suitable
for a broader range of applications. At the same time, there are also still challenges to overcome. Improvements in natural language understanding or moving towards a
more flow-based conversations instead of only “single shot” dialogues are steps that will require more time, investment and research.
In this point of view we want to discuss the latest developments in the chatbot technology domain and provide you with example applications.
We hope you enjoy reading our Chatbot Point of View, On behalf of Portal.chat AI Team,
- Executive Summary
- The Rise of the Chatbot
- Chatbot Types
- Architecting a Chatbot
- Our approach
Value throughout your organization
Chatbots are key in your organization’s digital journey and in delivering next generation intelligent customer service.
What is a Chatbot?
Chatbots offer a conversational experience using artificial intelligence and natural language processing to mimic conversations with real people.
Computer power driving Enterprise Intelligence
Systems have evolved from mechanical computation & tabulation devices to intelligent systems that can emulate human cognition.
Market forces driving Chatbot opportunities
Developments at both the side of supply and demand drive the added value of Chatbot technology.
Towards user acceptance
Due to improvements in Natural Language Processing, Chatbots are shifting from command-driven towards more intelligent, conversational driven ‘Virtual Assistants’, which are much better at determining context and user intent.
Evolution of Conversational AI
Chatbots are like apps that users interact with in a conversational way, through text or speech. As technology advances, Chatbots are able to better understand both written and spoken text.
A Chatbot may be as simple as basic pattern matching with a response, or it may be a sophisticated weaving of artificial intelligence techniques with complex conversational state tracking and integration into existing business services.
Chatbots have diﬀerent levels of intelligence…
There is no clear separation between Chatbots and Virtual agents, as they operate within a large range of complexity in both dialog and processes. Both sides of the spectrum have valuable applications. Below are two examples of applications of different complexity and intelligence.
…and there is a large range of valuable solutions
Chatbots come in various degrees of intelligence and range from answering questions to having the full capabilities of a service employee. The right level of intelligence should be picked depending on the use case.
FAQ Chatbots are perhaps the most simple form of a Chatbot, which can already bring plenty of value. It can understand questions and gives the user the most relevant answer. Self-learning Chatbots placed on a webpage can decrease the amount of phone calls to a service desk dramatically answering the most frequently asked questions.
With slightly higher intelligence we find the Virtual Assistant, which has more integration with enterprise systems and therefore can perform basic actions, such as looking up personal information.Virtual Assistants decrease service desk workload by, for example, looking up vacation days of an employee, or enabling an employee to buy vacation days through the Chatbot.
The most intelligent Chatbots are Virtual Agents, which can completely replace an employee. These bots can handle the most complex dialogs, processes and security protocols. Virtual Agents can handle complex processes, such as walking a client through making a bank transfer or making changes to their personal information, effectively replacing an employee.
Chatbots have a broad range of applications; they help users with information requests, reservations or personalized tasks like money transfer.
You are in a hurry to catch a train to bring you to the
concert of your favorite band. Quickly check if you are
going to make it!
You have just heard about an important meeting but
are not at the offi ce. Use the Chatbot to quickly identify
free rooms and book it instantly.
Instantly transfer money. Use a familiar interface to
transfer money, request account information and
Understanding Language & Context
Chatbots mimic different functions of the human brain.
There is a big variety in Chatbot development platforms. Below are a number of characteristics that should be taken into account when choosing the suitable
platform to implement with your Chatbot.
Ability to “guess” what the user is requesting, even if phrased unexpectedly. Good intent recognition is vital if you don’t want to annoy your users.
Go beyond simple Q&A and enable your Chatbot to have complex and meaningful conversations with the user.
Users get more engaged in conversation if a Chatbot acts more human- like. Some Chatbots are able to detect and show emotions.
How will users interact with your Chatbot? Choose a platform that connects easily with your webchat, app, social media platform or voice interface.
Task Automation Capability
Does your Chatbot need to perform tasks for users? Make sure it has enough dialog capabilities and that it can connect to your back-end systems
Reporting & Monitoring
Are your customers being helped? Are they happy? Does your contact center get less calls? Choose a Chatbot platform that tells you how it’s performing.
Ease of Implementation
Some platforms require custom software development, while others allow business users to configure the Chatbot themselves.
Security & Compliance
Do you have extra security requirements? Or do you need to be compliant with audit regulations? Security and logging capabilities vary amongst platforms.
Understanding the vendor landscape
A Chatbot is often built up from different components. There is a large landscape of vendors of frameworks, capability enhancers and messaging platforms that all provide slightly different functionalities. Some vendors provide all-in-one solutions.
When to use? How to use?
There are a lot of aspects to consider when implementing a Chatbot. The large variety of vendors complicates this process further. It is important to find the Chatbot that fits your particular needs, which means you need to do research before implementing.
Do your research Researching Chatbots before deciding to implement one will give
the highest return on your investment
Represent your organization Chatbots are often a customer facing application, so it is important
that it represents your organization in a proper manner.
Fit your needs Make sure the solution fits your needs. Don’t let a simple Chatbot
do complex tasks, don’t let a Virtual Agent do simple tasks.
It’s a journey A Chatbot changes the way you interact with customers. Make
sure they see the added value.
Connect A Chatbot increases in value when it is well connected to back-end
systems, so that it can make changes and request information.
Augmentation Use it to make your current services smarter and increase the
Easy does it Start with a MVP to prove value, and add complexity in steps.
Know your customer Find out if your customers are ready for the change. If so, what are
Train your chatbot
Training a Chatbot or Virtual Agent is not so different from training a human employee: it requires time and investment. Retraining is required when processes
or products change.
• A new Chatbot or Virtual Agent is not trained yet for your specific customer service domain
• Initial training required in order to understand customer requests and to know how to solve them Perform initial training
• Train your agent to understand the subject matter
• Teach them how to answer questions and process requests
• Instruct how to access your knowledge and data systems Evaluate and improve
• Periodically evaluate your agent’s performance
• Determine which requests aren’t handled properly
• Improve performance with targeted additional training Re-train
• When products, processes or enterprise systems change, additional training is required
We assist our clients all the way
• Exploring the business value and technological feasibility of applying Conversational AI.
• Understanding the vendor landscape.
Create a Vision
• Set a vision by defining the future channel strategy & mix introducing automated chat
• (Re)design the customer journey across all touchpoints to optimize the experience
Build an MVP
• Mobilize the right team to engage in building a Minimal Viable Product solution to start the learning experience together with all stakeholders (customers, operations, IT, organizational design, …)