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Investor blog

Chatbots & AI – match made in heaven?

by Nortal HQ, March 27, 2019

Chatbots together with AI hold a lot of promise for making customer service agents life easier by taking on some of the more mundane questions off their hands. But is it really as easy as installing a chatbot plugin?

First off, let’s make clear what chatbots are and what does artificial intelligence in the context of chatbots mean. A chatbot is a simple way to interact with an end user (customers or internal users), usually through typing questions in a messenger type environment.

Additionally, the interface could also be through voice applications that “translate” spoken word through natural language processing. Think Google Assistant, Siri, Cortana and the like.  In the context of chatbots, AI (Artificial Intelligence) is really just a set of keywords and rules.

Quality data is key

Depending on the chatbot you use, the experience of using one can either be a truly amazing one or it could be terrible. With the key differentiator between the two being the underlying data used.

As Adrian Whitehouse, Director of Business Development at Elastic Path, puts it:

If they (chatbots) don’t have access to the right data presented in the right format, they’re pretty dumb“

The question is not purely about the amount data available, it’s having access to the right data in a form that the system understands that is key.

When a new query comes in, the chatbot will analyze the words and break it down, parse it and then figure out which API to call. The API then looks at the keywords and figures out what information is needed and whether it has it or not.

In the case of something simple like opening hours of a particular retail location, the API retrieves that information and sends it back to the chatbot which then renders the information either as text or voice.

In more complex situations, for example, questions that are tied back to a real person, when will my phone contract end and similar, it will also look for personally identifiable information about the person asking.

AI & Chatbots can improve your customer’s experience.

The API knows the user because they have used Facebook or other means to log in to the website or service or app.

This will continue until there are no more questions from the user, or the chatbot doesn’t understand the question asked and will send it towards a customer service agent. That agent will then have all the information from the previous chatbot interactions and is better prepared to help the user.


Chatbots and customer experience

Chatbots can be an amazing addition or it could flop. It’s not enough to just have it run because everyone else is using it, it needs to be a part of your whole customer experience and be integrated with all other systems in it.

As Whitehouse puts it: “… if you don’t think through that, you’ll underuse them and they probably will be an annoyance”

When done right, chatbots together with AI can help companies build better customer experiences (no more waiting in line and listening to elevator music!) and cut costs (less work for customer services agents). When done wrong though, it can create more problems instead of solving them.

This article is based on our podcast episode titled “How chatbots and AI are changing customer experience” Listen to the podcast HERE

Arto Lamminen

Arto Lamminen

Arto Lamminen, Vice President, Revenue Science, Media and Telecom at Nortal, has vast experience working in the IT and telecoms sectors. To see how he can help your organization grow and take full advantage of the digital world, send him an email.