Artificial Intelligence in Chatbots
Artificial Intelligence in Chatbots
Chatbots have grown up fast, from scripted simple tools to AI-powered, API-enabled services in just a few short years. They can also now help a business in many ways beyond the usual customer service bot. But what is AI used for in chatbots and how can it benefit any business in the 2020s?
From chatbots and virtual assistants to digital avatars and kiosks, the explosion in ways that people can address or interact with businesses and their services has exploded in recent years. The chatbot remains the most accessible and deliverable option for any business, allowing a company to automate reception and booking tasks, customer service and even sales or customer relations.
Bots help people book hotels and flights, they help translate business services so anyone around the world can trade with them, and provide support when the people in the business are tucked up in bed. The more chatbots there are, the faster customers, consumers, workers and business leaders will get used to them, and overcome any stigma against AI, as it tries to do its best to help us all.
First Steps in AI Chatbots
Any size of business with any level of technical knowledge can build a chatbot, from simple no-code efforts using scripts and accessible instances of AI. These are ideal for helping a startup that doesn’t have the bandwidth for a reception team, the time to handle calls personally, or a lack of budget for a call centre facility.
From Facebook Messenger bots to app or website chatbots, they are growing in huge numbers, taking the load from social media operators or service agents, and providing an always-on aspect to any business.
Using bot builder tools and natural language processing technology (NLP), companies can rapidly build chatbots as prototypes to test the technology with a low impact, they can roll them out as tests to see how customers respond and use them as the basis for more advanced models.
Most early chatbots with or without AI might start out with simple decision trees, linked to “yes” and “no” buttons or simple choices like “make an appointment”, “change an appointment” or “cancel an appointment.” But by adding AI, they can become so much powerful and useful to the business. One example is AI translation tools for chatbots that will help your business work with overseas customers, irrespective of the time zone or the language they speak.
The natural language processing feature is probably the first that any business or developer will come across when it comes to developing a chatbot. NLP allows chatbots to identify key phrases within a message from a user, allowing the bot to accept a wider range of inputs, to understand what a user is asking and provide a more useful response.
Instead of a banking chatbot having a dozen buttons or choices for the various services it offers and dozens more options in subsequent layers. An NLP-powered chatbot can ask the user “How can I help you?” and identify the words “increase” and “overdraft” for example from a response, leading the conversation in the right direction.
Expanding on NLP, natural language generation (NLG) can provide more realistic responses if needed for a particular type of conversation. Many consumers still like their robots to sound robotic, but for certain markets, such as brands, charities or health departments, the ability for a bot to sound more like a human, or can create a persona that customers or users become used to dealing with is a strong advantage.
Advanced uses for AI NLP can help link a general query that includes some specific words or phrases to the right department or subject matter expert, pushing messages automatically to the right people. These bots don’t need to answer every question, but by sending a query to the right place, they speed up the answer process and save time for the business.
Some Great Bot Examples
With commercial chatbots having been in use for around five years now, there are plenty of examples of market-leading bots that deliver success for both customers and the business.
Some examples of companies using them include airline KLM’s BlueBot on Facebook or Google Home, able to help with customer service queries from booking flights to checking for delays and provide advice on luggage limits.
Chatbots don’t just help with customer service, they are increasingly used within a business to automate processes and provide information to departments, new hires and other roles. Handling tasks like human resources, onboarding, hiring or collaboration between teams, a internal chatbots are making their marks for companies with many offices, operating across large or global markets. and showing companies how bots can be used for future tasks and services.
An example of AI chatbots for business is USA Mortgage, allowing agents to concentrate on sales and working with customers, reducing the time they spend hunting for documents or information, both at their desk and on the go. Every sales force should be more customer-focused, and a chatbot that can provide essential information instantly can help in that effort.
Outside of traditional business, AI chatbots in healthcare and other areas like government are also seeing a huge impact from chatbots, due to the huge volume of calls they deal with, and a need to triage complaints or access to specialists. Health bots are a high profile subject as any mistake could be costly, but the likes of Babylon’s chatbot will play a key role in winning over public confidence and driving bot and avatar assistants in doctors’ waiting rooms to specialists and other medical practices.
These bots have been in use for a number of years, winning over customers and attracting the attention of rivals who are investing in their own bots. Not all customers are satisfied (and some never will be) but smart bots learn from their customer interactions and will aim to do better next time.
Some bots suggest better answers to problems through managed learning, where a human decides if the new information is useful. Other AI chatbots try the new answer on customers themselves and measure if the data they provided was useful or accurate, becoming self-learning systems that can improve the service they provide autonomously.
The ideal scenario for a large business is one chatbot that handles multiple types of inquiry and can learn by itself when people ask new questions, providing useful answers and then revising them to deliver the best possible answer. Once bots start doing this regularly, they can create their own chatbots to provide the right answers whenever a new product or service launches, perhaps even take bot development out of the hands of people.
As businesses need to automate more to drive efficiencies, every company will come to rely on digital services and AI tools to help them work smarter and leaner. That doesn’t mean these AI bots will affect jobs, in most cases, they will let workers do the more important tasks while robots and AI handle the grunt work.
Machine Learning and Intelligent Chatbots
Machine learning is a general AI term where a bot uses a number of statistical models or algorithms to learn from sets of data. Training data is a big topic for chatbot development, as there have been ai-powered chatbots that have used poor training data to provide poor results.
For any business developing an online AI chatbot, having good training data is essential to building a high-quality bot. Plenty of testing, both by AIs and end-users is also key to delivering the right message, and ensuring the bots understand what people ask. Chatbot development is rapidly learning that good data and testing are just as important as the bot itself.
AI can also help the bot present a personality to the customer, while digital avatars can use AI to create realistic moving characters, facial expressions that match the emotive tone of the conversation and other factors.
As bots become smarter and more powerful, the need for deeper levels of AI and deep learning become important and this is where many businesses will find their best AI chatbots learning from in the near future. For the customer, they see instant answers and no delays, while the business benefits from cost savings, improved levels of customer satisfaction and extra benefits like upselling or improved retention.
A World of Everyday Bots and AIs
Soon enough people will find chatbots, avatars and AIs in every part of their lives, they will help us navigate public transport through AI chatbot apps, smart city bots will help with navigation, parking, finding what we need and meeting up for business or pleasure.
Bots will also guide us around businesses, hospitals, museums. And for the lucky few, act as a source of advice or sanity on long space trips, just like the sci-fi movies predicted. But whatever the bot, they will be relying on AI services to protect us from digital fraud and fakes, while AI hardware and specialist AI bot development will deliver that information or advice faster and when we are away from the cloud.
AI-based customer support for anything could come from your TV screen, in-car or smart device as well as the phone or smart watch. One smart AI bot could become your personal assistant, following you from Facebook across social media on different devices, providing access to your finances, health information and shopping, all from the one AI app.
While the usual tech giants are promoting their AI services, it could be a fresh startup that comes up with the smartest ai chatbots that deliver a whole new approach to data and personal interaction.
People could build AI chatbots to keep them company, to keep widespread families or groups in touch with the latest information, or build AI bot platforms that allow others to create super-smart bots. The trick is that most businesses won’t need the smartest bots on the planet, just smart enough to achieve their business goals, which will take an understanding of the market and the capabilities of any AI technology.
The Future Looks Bright for AI Chatbots
Chatbot development, use and popularity is already on a strong upward curve, but we are still in the early days of AI. Beyond the AIs we currently use or read about, the next big step will be in artificial general intelligence (AGI). A bot using AGI can understand pretty much anything we ask it, and provide the answer accessing any resources needed with a level of empathy.
So-called strong-AI will likely not be required for typical chatbot purposes, but will dominate when it comes to smart avatars and assistants that become a part of the furniture the further we get into the 21st century.
Whatever the AI you need, it is already, or will soon be, packaged in the business applications and services you use, as CRM, office, sales and other tools, all adopt chatbots as a better way of providing information, and AI to analyse and resolve data-based queries. And if you just need a simple chatbot, those tools are plentiful and will become more common and easier to use as bot building becomes a simple task for any business.
Whatever the future, bots will become a bigger part of all our lives and the AI inside them needs to be responsible, accessible and honest, while protecting everyone’s privacy and not being used for unsavory purposes. To that end, expect rules and regulations to ensure AI and AI development is regulated to protect both business and users.
Also, given the rate of advance in AI, this will all happen a lot faster than many expect, so start building those AI bots, AI makers and tools now to ensure your business or organisation is ready to ride the waves of AI change.
Whatever your business, expect AI and chatbots to be a common feature soon, and expect your market and customers to rely on them as their utility increases to move from simple bots to all-knowing services.