At the heart of chatbot technology is Natural Language Processing, or NLP, the same technology that underpins the voice recognition systems used by virtual assistants such as Google Now, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Today’s chatbots are already able to answer a variety of questions and solve many more complex problems using increasingly accurate algorithms and continuous machine learning. Some chatbots offer remarkably authentic conversations where it is very difficult to tell whether it is a bot or a human. Chatbots are becoming more sophisticated, more responsive and more “natural”. In other words, they are becoming more human.
Chatbots process text presented to them by the user and then respond according to a complex series of algorithms that interpret and identify what the user has said, infer what they mean, or what they want. Based on this information, they determine a series of appropriate responses.
Long gone are the days when a web chatbot could only answer a few basic questions and then usually direct you immediately to a specific contact centre operator. Today’s chatbots can offer you much more – the latest news, setting up a treatment plan, introducing a new service or even giving you a discount and much more.
As e-commerce becomes increasingly powerful, the level of customer interaction with individual stores is also growing. To manage it, more and more companies are using sophisticated modern systems with integrated artificial intelligence, represented by (not only) NLP chatbots.
One of the advantages of chatbots is that they can cover customer service 24/7, and they can also handle the so-called “dirty work” – unpleasant questions or trolling. In fact, unpleasant or rude conversation doesn’t upset them in any way. Another advantage is that the chatbot can answer even boring, repetitive questions (such as delivery times, order and payment status or product availability), so the operator can only deal with more complex requests or problems.
With chatbots, however, getting the algorithms right is always the most important thing. The better the algorithm is set up, the more naturally the chatbot converses and functions more autonomously. And the better chatbots perform, the more likely companies are to attract new and retain existing customers.
In the US, for example, there are already a number of chatbots operating as part of online services that will even investigate your health. As well as checking your blood pressure or temperature, some are able to use a camera to observe your condition as a pallor and check the current severity of the situation from your voice. If the situation doesn’t seem right to them, they will recommend you see a GP immediately.
However, chatbots can also stray into the realm of entertainment during a conversation, even in an area such as banking. For example, the chatbot George Česká spořitelna can surprise you with a joke in addition to offering various loans or mortgages. And he also responds naturally to questions of a personal nature.
Chatbots and virtual assistants in general are a really interesting communication element today, which also has great potential for the future. We are likely to see a lot more of them in the online space in the coming years. For example, the well-known voice assistant Alexa from Amazon, which allows you to use your voice to control light bulbs, smart vacuum cleaners and sockets with connected appliances in your home, suggests huge possibilities. So, do you have any more questions about virtual communication…?