It’s the rise of machines! Like something out of the Terminator movies! Okay, perhaps it’s not quite that dire, but there’s no question that culture and business are moving in an ever-forward direction, technologically speaking.
That means more gains in things like artificial intelligence, and more specifically, conversational AI. Say what?
Yeah, we were a little confused at first too. Keep reading as we break this topic down a little more deeply, in hopes of helping you understand the usefulness of conversational AI and how you might wield it effectively in your business.
What is a Conversational AI?
The terms conversational AI and virtual assistant are used interchangeably these days, with the term ‘chatbot’ possessing a similar meaning. Sure, once upon a time a virtual assistant was a real person. But these days, the real person part is up for grabs.
In essence, conversational AI is an artificial intelligence system that mimics human responses and behaviors during conversations, for the purpose of providing a service. A virtual assistant, or a Chatbot, is merely the practical application of conversational AI.
The Way Conversational AI Works
These technologies are designed to talk to people as if they were also human; using artificial intelligence tools like Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing.
In short, for conversational AI, the system is programmed to learn from its frequent iterations and improve upon itself; in other words, the more you use it, the better it will be. Kind of creepy? Yes, indeed. But also quite cool and useful.
Additionally, with NLP, the program will become more sensitive to the context and phrasing of questions, and ultimately provide more personalized and user-friendly answers to those asking the questions.
Benefits of Conversational AI
There are several benefits to using conversation AI as a business. Below are the top three.
- Conversational AI is Time-Friendly – Few, if any, organizations can afford to offer round-the-clock customer service. By using conversational AI, you can answer customer services questions around the clock, even during off-hours. Of course, if that Chatbot can’t answer the question, they’ll still have to wait to speak to someone in person, but at least it starts the conversation and sometimes offers the answer.
- Conversational AI is Customer-Friendly – It’s no secret that customer service is fast becoming a lost art. Try calling any large company and sitting on the phone for 3 hours waiting to talk to an actual person. Though a human may get tired of you when you ask the same questions repeatedly, an artificially intelligent conversational system will not. Moreover, its quick response makes it easier for customers to get what they need without having to wait forever. Again, it’s not as good as a human, but it does have its uses!
- Conversational AI is Company-Friendly – Given the benefits centered around optimizing time and helping customers, it should be obvious that a one-time investment in conversational AI can save your company money you might otherwise spend on customer support. Now, that’s not to say you wouldn’t still have to hire customer service representatives, but you could potentially get away with hiring less help, ultimately saving you money in the long run.
Different Conversational AI Options Available
As mentioned, the terms are often used interchangeably, but there are two types of conversational AI currently used in business. One is more robust than the other, but both can be useful.
A virtual assistant is an artificial representation of a human assistant, designed especially for customer service and management. It can hold a conversation, answer questions, and issue statements that fit with your company’s values, as well as offer information regarding company policies and the various services your business offers.
These conversations can be held with anyone, from potential customers to other organizations. An intelligent virtual assistant is designed to understand the context of the question as well as the content, providing a dynamic, made-to-fit type of response to the question. This is certainly your more robust option!
A Chatbot is a basic tool that allows users to ask questions and queries, and get relevant answers. It’s designed to respond with relevant information from the given data.
Chatbots utilize the technology of Natural Language Processing; focusing on potential keywords in the questions and searching the database for relevant material. In the case of Chatbots, the software isn’t programmed to gauge the context behind the questions and provides fixed answers regardless of the way the question is posed (i.e., its wording and phrasing). So, while a Chatbot can be useful for basic customer support, a virtual assistant may be more useful depending on your business needs.
Given the leaps and bounds we are making in technology, it’s a sure bet that conversational AI is here to stay, and Virtual Assistants and Chatbots will only get smarter and better with time. The only question that remains is how will you start putting conversational AI to work for your business?
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