How Can an AI Chatbot Empower Your Customer Service Team?
By on 4th Dec 2019
Have you heard about chatbots? Of course you have, and you’ve probably even experienced the various iterations of them through the years as they developed. I don’t know anyone from my generation who hasn’t used SmarterChild, the intelligent AI messenger bot that, over the years, has slowly got more and more complex.
Chatbots for business are generally used on instant messenger programs to chat with customers in an automated way. Traditionally they answer common queries, but modern chatbots initiate AI to offer a fully conversational experience akin to speaking to a real customer service advisor.
Let’s talk about AI first, because it underpins a lot of the bots we’re about to talk about later in this article. We all know AI stands for artificial intelligence, it’s measured by the Turing test, a statement by Alan Turing that says we will have achieved seamless artificial intelligence when we make it indistinguishable from a human.
Chatbots started with no artificial intelligence, they were pre-scripted to answer specific text to common queries. They could easily be tripped up by questions being phrased differently, regional dialects and spelling errors. Often, they’d cause more trouble for customers than they were worth.
The trend for chatbots has boomed in recent years, when Siri, Google and Alexa cracked a more advanced level of conversational, smart AI, suddenly chatbots became a functional reality for businesses to take advantage of. A few years ago, Facebook advanced this possibility by allowing developers to work with their messenger platform to design their own smart chatbots, and since then many major businesses such as Expedia, Disney, Pizza Hut and many more have utilised chatbots to expand upon their customer service offering.
Of course, Facebook isn’t the online online messaging program where chatbots can be utilised, so we have started working with Cirrus, a smart, omni channel contact centre solution, which brings together management of a whole variety of platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Whatsapp and more. Cirrus enables human customer service professionals to manage incoming messages from across the board, but it also has a fantastic integrated AI chatbot called CAI, which got us thinking about chatbot developments.
So what is an AI Chatbot?
We’ve mentioned the term previously, but in summary, it’s conversational AI. It conducts a conversation from text cues, but unlike its predecessors, which had a predetermined response from recognising a specific prompt, AI has a built in framework for contextualising conversation.
For businesses, generally they are used to deal with common queries that tend to overwhelm traditional customer service models. It has been identified across the board, that it is somewhat of a waste of time for already overwhelmed customer service advisors to be taking calls that can be easily and quickly answered in the same way each time. For example, common queries might include:
Where are you based?
How can I make a purchase?
Do you accept card?
Is there disabled access?
What are your opening hours?
It’s highly counterintuitive to have people answer these questions repeatedly all day, and a pre-qualification interview with an AI bot usually answers these queries, meaning advisors are freed up to deal with more complicated queries.
AI chatbots can also help to identify and categorise queries before they reach the advisor. They can direct questions to the right department, and even decide whether a chat needs to be escalated to a call, or whether an email will do.
How does conversational AI work?
An AI chatbot’s responses are conversational and based on an algorithmic decision - firstly, the bot needs to grasp what has been sent to it - the customer’s text - to do this it uses a combination of text classifiers, algorithms and artificial neural networks.Owners of the AI will feed a huge bank of information into the databases it can draw from, often lately these are selected carefully to ensure the AI doesn’t learn from false sources of information in the wider sphere of data available across the internet.
For example, a recent AI developer had to remove Urban Dictionary from the AI data as the AI was learning to swear. It’s a risky business if not properly managed.
In order to respond to the customer, AI uses Natural Language Generation. NLG can understand common patterns such as email addresses and phone numbers, and it can also recognise other common parameters such as time, names, money and locations. It uses these identifiers to help understand conversations.
To ‘teach’ AI more terms and to help it identify connections and contextual responses, it is exposed to examples, which it uses to learn common patterns and links. In early experiments in AI was simply given rules, but in giving AI examples instead, it offers much more contextualisation.
CAI, Cirrus’ AI even learns emotions. It learns from examples of emotional cues in written text and can use this learning to identify the best and most appropriate response.
Which certainly helps people feel like the robot they are talking to is less robotic.
AI Chatbot Stats
63% of people would consider using a chatbot to communicate with a business.
More than half of consumers prefer businesses that use chat apps.
Chat bots are expected to cut business costs by $8 Billion by 2022.
59% of Millennials and 60% of Gen X have used chatbots to communicate with a business.
In Healthcare and Banking, chatbots save 4 minutes per inquiry.
Gartner predicts 85% of all customer interactions will be automated by 2020 and that 95% will be AI powered by 2025.
Key Considerations When Using a Chatbot
Always ensure your that any chatbot provider you use is fully GDPR compliant, your bots should not be asking for data from customers which is not totally necessary to the query. Likewise, in general bots feel less trustworthy to us as humans, so if your bot is asking for excessive information, trust levels in your business can take a sharp decline.
Bots that are not well developed can also leave you with a risk of making customers feel abandoned, you need to ensure you are using a platform that is highly responsive and quick to understand and handle your customer’s incoming messages. Cirrus’ CAI bot can answer customer queries 24/7, meaning customers are never left hanging waiting for opening times.
Potential Capabilities of Chatbots
Developing your own chatbot is useful for some companies, but it can be extremely costly and there’s a lot of risk in getting AI wrong. The great thing about contact centre solution platforms that include chatbots is that they are cloud hosted, and the software is constantly being updated with new apps and capabilities.
Here’s just a few of the things bots can already handle through AI chat:
Product Suggestions + Solutions
Key Business Information
Service Appointments and Bookings
Balance Enquiries and Transaction Records
The potential is really great, especially when chatbots are able to collaborate with other technologies such as Alexa, Google and Siri, our mobile payment apps and the IoT. It’s entirely possible that in the future bots could remotely service common technical errors on our appliances and technology automatically, such as our routers, computers and phones.
Could your business really afford not to have a chatbot as part of your contact centre solution? It’s really just future proofing at this point, the move from traditional contact centres to AI focused automated systems seems inevitable in moving with the times.
Is Cirrus the right solution for your needs? Check our information here, and then call us with your questions!
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