It wasn’t terribly long ago that we waited until business hours to get in touch with a company to answer a query. With the arrival of instant messaging and chatbots, that seems so last century!
Chatbots have been around for a while but with the increasing popularity of messaging apps, it’s only in recent years that they have gained momentum.
The benefits of chatbots are undeniable, and we’re exploring their evolution and the role that they play in the modern business.
Chatting About Bots
Simply put, a Chatbot, derived from “chat robot”, is an Artificial Intelligence program that can hold a simple digital with text or voice-based conversation and provide information and support to automate business communication.
The benefits of chatbots include:
Aiding business processes alongside classic customer service channels of phone, email and social media. For example, to help manage the pandemic, the World Health Organisation created their WHO Health Alert chatbot to assist people in protecting themselves from infection, share information, bust myths and give travel advice related to the pandemic.
Boosting agent productivity and efficiency by serving up relevant resources and information even as the context of the conversation changes. Implementing a chatbot backed up by natural language processing capabilities, your customers can have what feel like real conversations with your bot. They offer speedy answers to a menu of predetermined questions relevant to your business. If someone asks a question your bot can’t answer, you can configure your bot to connect them with your customer service team across various channels.
Speeding up self-service options by being programmed to resolve more common issues like modifying orders or checking a booking status. Because nobody wants to wait for answers to questions these days, no matter what time of day people visit your site and no matter how busy you are, a chatbot can easily take care of the most basic Q & As. Omnichannel communication only enhances the self-service options, which users prefer in many cases.
Aid marketing strategies by offering personalised product recommendations, helping customers find the products they know they want, reminding them about items in their shopping cart and sending out marketing campaigns via email, chat and text.
Interestingly, chatbots are also used by search engines to scour the world wide web and archive new pages for future searches.
A Brief History of Chatbots
In the 1960s MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum developed the first-ever chatbot called ELIZA which used pattern matching and substitution methodology to simulate and mimic human conversation. In the decades that have followed, Weizenbaum’s model has been used by chatbot makers to formulate more human-like interactions.
In 2001, SmarterChild arrived on the scene with the technology to carry out fun conversations with quick data access to services like the weather and movie showtimes. In some ways, it was a precursor to Apple’s intelligent personal assistant and navigator Siri, which was developed for iOS in 2010. Siri in turn paved the way for all other AI bots and PAs like Google Assistant and Alexa.
In 2009, the Chinese company WeChat created a more advanced Chatbot which quickly gained them a solid reputation and turned theirs into a thriving social media platform. WeChat made it very easy for anyone to be able to create simple chatbots as a way for marketers and employers to reduce their workload when interacting with online customers.
Early 2016 brought on the first wave of artificial data technology on social media platforms like Facebook. This allowed users to carry out some of their daily actions from inside their messaging platform. As the conversational interface continues to develop, there will come a time when the benefits of chatbot communications will possibly outweigh and become indistinguishable from human conversation.
How Chatbots are Trained
The benefits of chatbot training are considerably faster and work on a larger scale than human education. Artificial intelligence, such as machine learning, helps to improve a bot’s ability to understand and make decisions by harnessing huge amounts of data.
The simplest form of a chatbot is pattern matching or Artificial Intelligence Markup Language (AIML) which is nourished by data input and conversation logs that the bot uses to scan its databases for related keywords, phrases and articles. Simply put, it operates as a document retrieval system and while efficient, currently lacks the ability to recognise context and the way people naturally speak.
More advanced chatbots are programmed with Natural Language Understanding (NLU) whereby the algorithm examines a sentence without a historical backdrop of the user’s text conversation. The phrases used during a conversation are separately stored and not remembered from something that was recently asked. Keywords or identifying tags are used by the chatbot to search for related data that will answer the question. With NLU programming a chatbot can learn more complex ways of simulating human conversation, managing dialogue and adjusting its responses based on what comes up in the conversation.
The most advanced chatbots use Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms and can better understand human speech or typed text. This technology makes it possible for the chatbot to better discern the intent behind what someone is asking and to respond more intelligently. As the NLP breaks sentences into tokens or pieces that are linguistically representative, it searches for subjects, verbs, objects, nouns, and common phrases in the user’s text in order to find similar phrases that indicate what the user is trying to convey.
NLP based bots study and learn users experiences through their overall interactions and can actively recognise such things as customer frustration or overly complicated interactions. They can then transfer the inquiry to a human support centre when necessary.
Automated Communication for Your Business
Your company’s growth and customer satisfaction will undoubtedly benefit from the time and cost-saving benefits of chatbots and advanced messaging as you adapt to changing technology and keep customer communication at the forefront.
If you’re ahead of the game and have already been looking for a simple, versatile and easily integrated method of personalising messaging and meeting the diverse needs of your customers to better streamline your business activities, check out our MobiServ product. This is an innovative online platform that links you to all of Cellfind’s APIs and services with no requirement for additional software or for you to have to understand how to code the experience that you need.
In addition, our Reverse Billed Mobile Data can offer your business a brilliant solution to entice more customers online and encourage and increase customer engagement with no barriers to them such as data costs because your business carries the cost of providing customers with free access to your website and other online platforms.
Contact the Cellfind Business Team today for advice and pricing options on advanced messaging product solutions and the benefits of chatbots to better automate your business communications and secure your future tomorrow and beyond.