While the word “chatbot” only entered the common vernacular in the 1990s (chat + bot), the technology was actually developed in the early 1950s and ‘60s.
The idea of computer intelligence was launched with input from innovators like Alan Turing, who first posited that computers could learn and eventually teach themselves, and Joseph Weizenbaum, who created the very first chatbot, ELIZA, a “therapist” program which was capable of recognizing keywords in a conversation and responding in a natural way with a follow-up question.
Today, chatbots are doing everything from working with veterans home from active military assignments, to providing customer sales/ service support for big brands, to managing HR tasks. Intelligent conversational interfaces have become one of the simplest ways for businesses to interact with customers, suppliers, and employees, and can be deployed for various services and products on a wide range of platforms and devices.
The Shift to Voice-First and Conversational UIs over Mobile Apps
As AI technology continues to develop and mature, forward-thinking enterprises are turning to conversational AI in numbers that make Gartner predict “conversational AI-first” will supersede “cloud-first, mobile-first” as the primary source of consumer-facing interaction within the next ten years. “Screen-free” interactions will account for 30 percent of browsing by 2020, opening the door for voice-first communication via conversational UIs. It is expected that one in five companies will likely abandon their rudimentary mobile apps by the end of 2019.
Why Deploy Conversational AI Driven Chatbots?
Since the average attention span of an internet user is only 8 seconds (for comparison, a goldfish can maintain a single track of attention for 9 seconds), solutions are needed which engage consumer attention, keep their interest, and drive them towards the desired result. Conversational UIs that are built to provide “next best action” guidance can deliver the results businesses need to stay competitive.
- Scalability. According to MarTech Advisor, the single most significant impact of conversational AI will be the scale at which marketers can change the overall customer experience (CX) associated with their brand. A framework can be established that yokes data analytics and artificial intelligence to improve every conversational user experience.
- Cost Effectiveness. A report from BI Intelligence noted that AI has finally reached a stage in which chatbots can have what passes for human conversations, and pointed out that businesses can cut labor costs by up to 29 percent when AI-powered chatbots and other types of conversational UIs are deployed.
- Personalization. Conversational UIs can provide a personalized touch in situations where human interaction is rare. For example, online shoppers can now converse with a “sales assistant” who is able to learn about them, offer suggestions, and assist them with their purchase.
- Constant Learning Ability. Repeated interactions with known consumers and the addition of data related to specific purchases over time can allow the experiences to become even more tailored for unique interactions that increase brand loyalty.
The Benefit of Conversational AI for Smarter Chatbots
The main benefit of artificial intelligence in the workforce is the ability to do more while providing high-quality experiences. Human workers can concentrate on more complex tasks not appropriate for virtual handling, while chatbots deliver fast, effective service both internally and externally. While the biggest fear may be a robot might take their job, when it comes to AI the reality is that every virtual assistant, AI-powered chatbot, and conversational UI still needs human backup.
Providing a company’s business intelligence about customer preferences, opinions, and historical purchase behavior to chatbots built with artificial intelligence and natural language processing (NLP), can digitally empower consumers 24/7 by delivering redefined customer experiences.
When conversational UIs are launched across an omnichannel delivery system, customers can receive real-time answers to their questions from AI-powered chatbots operating on the web, in their social messengers, and across voice-enabled devices.
As conversational capabilities continue to be refined, context is the next big challenge for intelligent interactions. Conversational AI can meet and conquer that challenge, taking chatbots to the next level of service and superior CX while delivering
- Reduced Costs: AI-driven customer service can handle a wide range of inquiries at record speeds, allowing human workers to complete crucial tasks moving the company forward.
- Improved customer experience: Since AI stores critical data points for a larger audience, companies can personalize service, support, and offerings to increase revenues while encouraging customer retention.
- Better consistency: As AI revolutionizes customer care, digital consumers become attuned to the shift in service. This leads to a circle of greater adoption and acceptance with more consistent results.
Conversational AI helps create teachable chatbots capable of sustained learning. As contextual ability increases, customer satisfaction will as well, and companies can continue to deploy chatbots into the upcoming decade with confidence and capability.