A group of people at MIT developed the first chatbot, known as “the mother of chatbots” Eliza. Though different from today’s chatbot, it served its purpose of imitating human-like interactions, by using a model known as the decision tree. Nowadays, chatbots, at their root, are a form of AI capable of answering frequent questions from consumers, citizens, or customers. But, exactly how far have they come?
In a recent article in InformationWeek, I had the opportunity to dive into the evolution of the chatbot over the years. Its technology, which once served a fairly basic role, is now a key business tool for organizations. In the beginning, many users expressed frustration when engaging with chatbots because the answers were limited and too mechanical, but now their capabilities exceed basic questions, and can even understand tone of voice. As described in InformationWeek, below are the technologies that have paved the way for better chatbots:
- Cloud-based technologies Cloud technology is adaptable and because of it, an array of industries, such as healthcare and retail, have been able to quickly deploy chatbots for better customer service. By using cloud-based technologies, chatbots are able to integrate with other systems, like CRM, to access information and accurately answer questions. This method of chatbot eases administrative burden and costs of large cell centers by providing help at all hours.
- Natural Language Processing(NLP) NLP programs are built upon machine learning and allow better conversational AI, upping the communication between companies and their customers. Technology innovations in NLP are also continually improving machine-to-human communication, understanding the nuances of different accents, phrases, dialects, and even languages.
- Artificial Intelligence & Analytics The arrival of AI served as a gateway for “smarter” chatbots. Thanks to this, they are able to detect change in tone, and therefore different emotions and respond accordingly, like transferring a customer to a supervisor. They are also able to use predictive analytics and previous interactions with customers to help them identify possible customer churn and respond with a promotional item or service or they can transfer the call to a specialist who can better service the call.
How can we create more effective chatbots?
Organizations are slowly relying more on chatbots to be the bridge between them and their customers. Adapted from InformationWeek, here are five best practices to adopt to ensure that companies are supplying the best customer experience:
- Understand your customer. Learning who your customers are will serve as a guide for you to know where their needs lie. Example, if they reach out via Facebook, make sure to have a chatbot there.
- Let them know that you understand them. By using AI and analytics, the customer experience will be individualized and the customer will then be aware that you are responding in accordance to their needs.
- Ensure privacy and security. With the constant widespread fraud attempts, it is important that chatbots reinforce privacy and security and verify that they are indeed communicating with the correct person.
- Solicit feedback. In order to continuously improve, request feedback from the customer, once the issues are fixed.
- Monitor chatbots for continuous improvement. Establish KPIs measuring performance metrics. These should be studied by a supervisor who can then fine-tune and improve the bot.
Chatbots nowadays can and should be adapted to reflect the brand of a company, by using technology that integrates personality traits into the bot. As chatbots evolve, we can expect to see a shift in how they are viewed. Instead of being poor substitutes for people, they will become the preferred brand ambassadors of a company.