Are you always sure that you are talking to a real person on the Internet? In the age of high technologies, your online interlocutors may not be what they seem. Chatbots are continuing to take over our messengers. They become more intelligent and learn to speak a more natural language. There are bots capable of solving a wide range of business issues. This article allows taking a closer look at chatbot functionalities and learning some tips that will help create a really effective “talking application”.
For the first time, a bot managed to pass the Turing test in 2014. This experiment had been originally instigated by an English mathematician Alan Turing in 1950. The main point of this trial was to make at least 30% of participants believe that they are talking to a real person, not a computer application. Participants asked questions and studied answers trying to figure out who or what was communicating with them.
Al technologies have long been serving business aims, but natural communication between humans and machines, even today, remains difficult to attain. The recent Turing test proved that. The application under testing “pretended” to be a 13-year-old boy and managed to mislead the researchers. Unfortunately, the result isn’t of any use for business, because commercial bots are supposed to act more like grown-ups, rather than children.
Chatbots in business
- For customer support
Customer satisfaction largely depends on support services. Big companies face huge expenses organizing call centers and hiring operators. Even outsourcing support doesn’t help save considerably and often results in low-quality services. In this case, a chatbot is a good option for business since it enables the following perks:
- Reduced operators’ workload
- Less time to wait for an answer from an operator
- Lower support service costs
- Easier and quicker updating of support information
- Online sales consultants
Tracking website visitors allows gathering enough information to realize what they are searching for to buy. The next step is to launch an onsite chatbot consultant that will redirect customers to their destinations or inspire them to purchase related goods.
Social network accounts support is an integral part of any marketing strategy. Unfortunately, it’s pretty resource-intensive since there are many tasks that need to be allocated to different staff members:
- Correspondence with followers
- Answering the comments
- Post comments to the business-related news.
All these activities can be trusted to chatbots taking your social networks presence to the next level.
- Artificial companions
Robotics development allows bringing various artificial companions to the market, starting from children toys, intelligent Bluetooth speakers ending with sex dolls. Striving for more intellectual and humanized products, software development companies often apply voice assistants, such as Siri or Chat-bots integrated with voice-to-speech technologies.
AI and E-Commerce
Although many companies conduct studies and develop products in the Al field, there are very few universal chat machines that are able to effectively solve a wide range of business tasks. Nowadays, we can only focus on custom BI solutions that are niche tools and don’t claim to be universal.
What is left for us to do while we are waiting for really effective Chat-bots? Researchers and custom software developers are keeping busy searching for useful tricks to take maximum advantage of the available “talking machines”.
Trick #1 Questions and Answers
This trick consists in faking chatbot activity with the help of FAQ database. The Question Comparison technology is of great importance in this method. It allows comparing users’
queries with information from a database to provide an answer. An expanded Q&A database with thousands of questions and answers on diverse topics makes the system more humanlike. As a result, the person-machine communication becomes more natural.
Trick #2 Question-Answering Systems
This technology emerged from computational linguistics. A search engine is configured to seek full answers to certain questions instead of key phrases. Besides, no special training or data processing is required. It should be noted, that it has nothing to do with full-fledged communication between a system and a user. But the technology as a part of support services can demonstrate excellent results.
Trick #3 Linguistic Analysis
There is a great number of applications that offer tools for text analysis. Nowadays, there are some companies that provide access to their linguistic engines. Among them are such companies as IBM (Alchemy), Microsoft (MS Cognitive Services), Google (Google NL API) and Lexalytics (Semantria). Experienced software integrators help construct a custom chatbot capable of identifying the subject and object of a conversation by finding the most appropriate answer in an available database, generating context-depending answers and identifying a conversation’s emotional tone.
Trick #4 Extensive Database
It’s important to realize that a key to a really effective “talking application” is hiding in an information database that will be able to “feed” a chatbot. If your company can’t boast a large collection of data, it would be better to consider other options.
The interest in chatbots refuses to fade away, and it seems that soon commercial robots will be able to communicate as equals with customers. Meanwhile, we have to rely on certain tricks to make communication between a person and an app more natural. Besides, only companies with large databases can win from utilizing a chatbot. The rest will have to wait for the new chatbots that are independent of this factor.