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Get Ready for Chatbots - Part 6


The Future of Chatbots

So far, we have shown how chatbots enable businesses to revolutionize the way they interact with their customers. However, technology never stops advancing. In this last article of our series, we will catch a glimpse of what could become «The Next Big Thing» in B2C interaction. Chatbots provide a common basis for all these innovations.

Virtual Assistants

In 2015, Facebook launched a virtual assistant called «M» on their Messenger platform that adopts a chatbot-human hybrid approach to process user requests, just like the concept we suggested in our last article. In contrast to completely AI-based virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa, the responses generated by M are always sent to human agents initially. These agents then decide whether to directly forward the generated responses to the users, or to perform manual tasks before sending the responses.

For example, users can make a reservation at a restaurant via M. The human agents simply call the restaurant for the customers. The users of M do not know if they are currently chatting with a chatbot or a human agent. Facebook records all interactions between the customers and M and uses this data to further improve the NLP capabilities of M’s AI.

Current virtual assistants like Siri or Alexa cannot communicate with restaurants or insurance companies to make a reservation or to purchase an insurance on your behalf. Imagine they could do this by forwarding your requests to the businesses in natural language. Which restaurant would the virtual assistant select to place your dinner reservation, which insurance company would it choose to purchase your spontaneous travel insurance? Certainly, not the one with which it cannot communicate.

Voice-based Interaction

The recent success of smart speakers like Amazon Echo or Google Home has shown: customers are open to interactions via voice if it’s done in a user-friendly fashion, especially in home-based applications. Additionally, many people today (especially in Asian countries with complex writing systems) already are using voice messages instead of text messages when chatting with their friends or family. Imagine that in the future, you can conveniently make any request you want to your insurance or bank by simply speaking to your phone or smart home device.

Voice-based interaction is the natural progression from text-based interaction, and today’s speech-to-text and text-to-speech technologies already are quite advanced. Many tech giants like Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Google or Amazon offer speech recognition services that can easily be added to existing chatbots. This enables businesses to offer their customers both text and voice-based interaction in natural language simultaneously to achieve optimal user experience.

Customer Insights & Analytics

The conversation data collected from chatbots not only can be used to improve their NLP capabilities. It also can be used to train AIs that detect the users’ current sentiment or infer their preferences based on past conversation history and actions. This allows chatbots to generate responses in real-time that are customized to a user’s current situation and state, thereby allowing businesses to improve customer satisfaction and increase sales performance.

In a chatbot-human hybrid setting, the customer analytics feature also can be used to assist human agents in their customer interaction and to increase their efficiency and performance by suggesting responses and actions based on previously collected data. For example, the chatbot can suggest the human agent to ask the customer what is wrong if it detects that the customer is currently annoyed, or suggest the agent to offer alternative products if other customers with similar conversation histories or features have shown increased interest in these products. This is a quite complex application of AI and there is still a lot of ongoing research currently being done in this field.

Outlook and Conclusion

In our opinion, chatbots are not just a current hype but will become an important part of future business models. They enable businesses to offer their customers a new type of interaction, to improve sales performance, and to reduce costs. Customers will become used to communicating with companies via messaging apps, virtual assistants, and smart home devices. We expect that businesses will even start designing products which are specifically tailored to chatbots.

Despite their many benefits, chatbots still require a well thought-through strategic initiative to be successfully used in customer interaction. Devising such an initiative requires both in-depth knowledge of chatbots as well as detailed industry-specific know-how. We at Synpulse have been studying chatbots intensively and could gain extensive expertise in this topic. Additionally, we have a long proven track record of successful IT implementation projects in the financial services industry.

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If you are interested in discussing your opportunities with regards to chatbot technology, do not hesitate to contact us.

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