The last year has proven that bots are here to stay. And they’re poised to make an even larger impact on customer service in 2017. Chatbot technology continues to improve, with Gartner predicting that by 2020, the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their own spouse! That’s a lot of conversations.
However, even as chatbots become staples in our lives, it’s still all too-common for a bot to respond with “I’m sorry, I didn’t get that.” And it’s frustrating for consumers when bots either don’t understand or misunderstand. So how can companies improve chatbot technology and strengthen the customer experience? The answer is simple: blending self-service like bot technology with assisted service from humans, which we call human-assisted artificial intelligence.
Conversational AI delivers intelligent self-service solutions
Based on Nuance research, an overwhelming majority (89%) of consumers prefer and, in fact, expect a conversational interaction when it comes to customer service. Consumers want to engage in conversation with companies via chatbots, virtual assistants and in-app messaging to quickly find information instead of searching through static Web pages or a mobile app on their own. This is the same for the phone channel, where the majority of consumers indicated they prefer to engage with a system that lets them speak naturally when calling a business.
But a system can’t just be conversational anymore. Consumers have high expectations for their interactions with businesses. They also want every touch point to be personalized. Customers expect systems to learn what matters most to users, and only be presented with the most relevant information for their purposes. This means consumers expect cognitive solutions that can recognize patterns and use natural language understanding to provide exceptional experiences.
Powerful conversational and cognitive AI is required to deliver effective self-service solutions. Systems must have the ability to hold an intelligent two-way conversation with the customer. And by using both speech recognition and natural language understanding, conversational and cognitive artificial intelligence gives chatbots the ability to understand complicated user questions and respond with relevant, timely information. And more than just in individual touch points, customers expect these systems to understand previous interactions and share context, no matter what channel they choose to reach out: whether it is via email, text message, or phone call.
Powerful AI also needs to know its limits
But systems are not yet at the point where they can handle everything. Powerful human assisted AI means that the system is intelligent enough to know when it doesn’t understand something, and pass the request along to a human that does. This allows customers to avoid hearing the frustrating, telltale response, “I’m sorry, could you please rephrase your question?” Human assisted AI in chatbots provide the human customer service agent with relevant context and information from the self-service interaction, thereby reducing the time a customer spends repeating themselves.
During the call between the customer service agent and the user, the bot collects data from the conversation to provide intel for the machine learning capabilities which in turn can be used to train and improving the bot for future interactions. Finally, thanks to the relationship between the customer service agent and artificial intelligence, the conversation can be passed back to the bot when a conversation can be handled by the bot once again.
By implementing artificial intelligence solutions, chatbots streamline, personalize and learn from the customer interactions. And in doing so, chatbots not only get smarter, but also will also provide a better customer experience. And with better customer experience comes happier customers – and that’s always a plus in our books.