Do Chatbots Live Up to the Buzz?

  • November 16, 2017

    Chatbots, like most new technologies, receive mixed opinions in the eyes of the public. Some AI evangelists think they will completely revolutionize customer facing interfaces. Others find them extremely limited. Some associate chatbots solely with electronic assistants such as Alexa or Siri. Regardless, companies are looking to bots as key components of their digital transformations.

    Customer service represents one of the primary functions of chatbots. Early chatbots used pre-programmed questions and answers that a user may ask an online chatbots. Information Age reports over 70% of questions asked of bots are simple, predictable customer service related questions. In order to boost the utility of bots, they will need to address more novel interactions that require artificial intelligence to go “off script”.

    According to Information Age, companies often make the mistake of spending too much capital and R&D resources making bots conversational. The perception is that customers want their interactions with bots to feel more natural and less like talking to a robot. While this may improve the customer experience for some, users care more about the quality of the content in the answer rather than the feel of the conversation. Conversational interaction becomes more of a feature than a true benefit or solution.

    Where to Focus on Chatbots  

    How do companies make these bots better? Move them off the script. Leverage artificial intelligence to train bots to pull possible answers from a broader pool of knowledge. Information Age points to using API to train bots to prevent the issue of running into question variants that can throw them off. Instead of responding “I don’t know” when coming across a roadblock, program bots to offer a menu of possible solutions to help the user find their answer.

    The future for chatbots looks bright. Their current level of sophistication exceeds the majority of public perception. However, they face a long road of development ahead. In the near-term, companies should focus on using chatbots to accomplish real business solutions rather than natural conversation.

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