It wouldn’t be wrong to say that once in your life you must have had to contact your after-sales support team for your phone, laptop, car, telephone network or for any other asset that you own or service that you use. That event might not be necessarily pleasant due to prolonged hold time and delay in response time. The 2018 Customer Service Benchmark report shares key insights into the customer service scenario across more than 1,000 organizations. The report mentions the following:
- 62% of organizations do not respond to customer service emails
- 90% of companies do not acknowledge or inform the customer that they have received an email
- 97% of businesses do not find it necessary to send a follow-up email to customers to check whether they are satisfied with the response
- Only 20% of companies can answer questions in full on the first reply
- Organizations take 12 hours and 10 minutes on average to handle a customer service request
For a business, this has room for an immense scope of improvement. However, for the last few years, businesses have registered a significant improvement in customer response time. Yet, companies still have a long way to go. Businesses and technical developers have now come up with chatbots. What exactly is a chatbot? How was it developed? Where is it applicable? How can Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot help you and your business?
This blog will answer all these queries. Let us begin.
What Is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a communication interface that assists organizations and individuals to converse decisively. It is an Artificial Intelligence program that chats with you. It offers a wide range of information that might be applicable. You can also term them as software applications that mimic written or spoken human speech to stimulate a conversation. Currently, there are two primary ways chatbots are offered to visitors: via standalone apps and web-based applications.
Organizations are using chatbots to create human-like interactions to facilitate business processes and to gain information from large groups. One can also use chatbots to act as a personal assistant, among other roles. Search engines are also using them to archive new pages for future search.
This leads to our next section, which highlights how chatbots work.
How Do Chatbots Work?
Chatbot technology is based on Natural Language Processing (NLP), which is similar to the technology that helps smart devices recognize the human voice. Before responding based on a complex series of algorithms that interprets and identifies the information provided to it, a chatbot infers what the user means and wants. Subsequently, it determines a series of appropriate responses based on this information.
The critical factor to a chatbot’s importance is its ability to converse like a human, often making it impossible for the user to determine whether it’s a human or an agent. Despite chatbot technology being distinct from NL, the former can only really advance as quickly as the latter. Without continued developments in NLP, chatbots are limited to the algorithms’ current ability to detect the subtle difference in written and spoken dialogue.
So how did Chatbots become the closest experience to a human conversation? The following section briefly describes the evolution of Chatbots.
History of Chatbots
Joseph Weizenbaum, an MIT professor, developed the first-ever chatbot in 1964 called ELIZA. He designed the program in a way that it mimicked human conversation. It functioned by forwarding the words that users entered into a computer and then pairing them with a list of possible scripted responses. Over time, the script significantly impacted NLP as academics across the USA were using its copies and variants.
Another significant evolution of chatbots worth mentioning was the development of Jabberwacky in 1988. Created by Rollo Carpenter, it sought to simulate a natural human conversation in an entertaining manner. Jabberwacky used contextual pattern matching.
In 2009, WeChat, a multi-purpose social media mobile application created a more advanced Chatbot. AI technique has made it convenient to create very simple chatbots.
By 2016, developers had successfully introduced artificial data technology in the design of chatbots. In the same year, Facebook enabled developers to build a chatbot for their trademark or service so that customers could execute their daily actions using their messaging platform.
How Are Businesses Using Chatbots?
WordStream, describes how global brands are using chatbots to enhance their services and upscale their customer experience. Some of them are as follows:
- Content Tailoring for Viewers: Preceding the US Presidential elections in 2016, NBC launched its NBC Politics Bot on Facebook Messenger. It allowed users to engage with the conversational agent via Facebook to identify breaking news and topics that catered to the news channel’s audience. Post the initial interaction, the bot provided users with customized news results based on their preferences. The bot also helped NBC determine the content its users enjoyed the most. The network was able to refine and customize its content to users in the future.
- Helping to Create Policies for Marginalized Communities: UNICEF is using U-Reports to allow people living in developing nations to voice their opinion on the most urgent needs in their communities. The bot focuses on large-scale data gathering via polls. It regularly sends out prepared polls on a range of urgent social issues such as sanitation, mental health, sexual harassment and gender-based discrimination. Users can respond through their input. UNICEF then uses the collected input as the basis for potential policy recommendations.
- Providing Care for Insomniacs through the Night: Millions of people across the globe suffer from insomnia caused by reasons such as poor memory, mood disturbance, daytime sleepiness and low motivation or energy. Casper, a world leading mattress manufacturer, introduced its chatbot, Insomnobot 3000. It is a conversational agent that offers insomniacs company by engaging them in a conversation while the rest of the world sleeps.
- Educating Children in an Entertaining Way: Disney made an interesting and entertaining use of chatbots in 2016. It used chatbots to invite fans to solve fictional crimes with its animated protagonist character from Zootopia. Children could help the character investigate mysteries similar to the movie by interacting with the bot. It explored avenues of inquiry based on user input. Users also could share their suggestions and thoughts to aid in solving the crime.
- Automating Lead Generation and Lead Assigning: Roof Ai assists real-estate marketers in automating communication with potential leads and lead assignment through social media. The bot determines potential leads via Facebook, and responds almost instantaneously in a friendly, helpful, and conversational tone resembling a human. Based on user input, Roof Ai interacts with potential leads to provide additional information, before automatically assigning the lead to a sales agent. Additionally, it allows real-estate agents to respond to user queries immediately, regardless of whether a sales agent or a customer service representative is available to help.
Moving on, let us look at how Alibaba Cloud currently offer chatbot services.
Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot
Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot is an NLP-based dialog platform that facilitates smart dialog through various dialog-enabling clients, such as mobile apps, websites, and robots. One can use domain-specific knowledge bases, configure knowledge base for customized smart dialogs. Additionally, it allows the use of Intelligent Service Robot to make self-service possible through multi-round dialog. Users can also integrate it with third-party APIs to enable complex scenarios such as shipping tracking, order search, and self-service returns.
Five Key Features of Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot
- Smart Knowledge Base: To make sure that businesses can instantly respond to their customers’ queries, Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot incorporates an encyclopedic knowledge base that utilizes ontology models and Q&A patterns. This significantly enhances the response rate.
- Multi-channel Support: Users can deploy Intelligent Service Robot on several dialog-enabling channels including web pages, mobile apps, and official accounts.
- Multiple Instance Creation: Customers of a brand can belong to various groups based on gender, age, preference, etc. To cater to all of them conveniently, you can create several instances of Intelligent Service Robot to meet the needs of different user groups.
- Multi-round Dialog Support: There is no limitation to what customers may require or ask for at any time. As a business, you would not want to be caught in a situation where you deny a service or fail to answer a query. Intelligent Service Robot features multiple tasks and responses by supporting dialogs for complex Q&A scenarios such as making appointments, booking flight tickets, and verifying the progress of reimbursement processes.
- Automation of Task: The entire concept of bots is to replace manual dialogs with automated dialogs and tasks to ensure accuracy and prompt responsiveness. You can execute task automation based on intent recognition allowing for prompt integration of Intelligent Service Robot with service processes and to trigger additional actions.
Now that we have examined the features of Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot, let us see how these features benefit the users of the service.
Benefits of Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot
- Natural Dialog Experience: A chatbot service sounds more like a machine and less like a human, it fails to serve its purpose. Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot ensures that it provides information and interacts in the most natural ways in Mandarin and English.
- Instant Response: Eliminating prolonged customer-response time for a customer query was the basis for developing and implementing chatbots. With Alibaba Cloud Intelligent Service Robot offers 24x7 online support for businesses across the industry.
- Fast Deployment: In addition to its several benefits and features, users can very promptly and conveniently configure and deploy it.
- Diverse APIs: Intelligent Service Robot supports diverse API which allows customizable and flexible online chat experiences to be generated for tailored scenarios.
Chatbots have not only transformed the way humans interact to solve their queries but also how they handle entertainment and socio-political issues. I hope this blog has enhanced your understanding of the basic concepts of chatbots and its applications across industries and uses. As part of its chatbots offerings, Alibaba Cloud offers its Intelligent Service Robot, which features multi-channel support and diverse APIs. It offers bilingual support around the clock for businesses across industries. Learn more about Alibaba Cloud’s several offerings based on Big Data and AI by visiting www.alibabacloud.com.