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AI: bringing chatbots to life

Apr 18, 2018

As we recently heard, AI now has the capacity to bring lost voices to life – recreating JFK’s undelivered final speech. And now, it’s having a revolutionary impact on customer service too by working its way into the chatbot. Read on as we explore how the latest tech advancement is breathing new life into one-sided conversations.

Realistic by definition, but not by reputation, chatbots are a computer programs that simulate human interaction through audio or text. These conversations are rarely seen as anywhere close to the real deal – responding robotically from a script and largely acting as an extension of an FAQ page. That’s why even though 40% of Fortune 500 brands currently use chatbots (Liveworld), only 7% of UK customers would rather be served by a chat bot than a human (Genpact). On the whole, this lack of popularity has meant little interest in developing the technology to escape the confines of Facebook Messenger, Twitter and Skype.
Blog QuoteBut times are changing. Marks & Spencer were ahead of the game with their ‘Christmas Concierge’ feature, a Facebook Messenger bot that sent videos, gifs, images and even menus in conversations about festive food. Jamie Oliver’s chatbot also acted as a similar interactive recipe generator, promoting his new book by suggesting solutions to users’ cravings in the form of emojis.

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The incentive’s there – if only there was a way to improve the quality, accuracy, efficiency and specificity of conversation. Enter: Artificial Intelligence. Chatbots in China are already becomingly increasingly sharp and in-tune to our demands, not only being able to remember details about your personal life, but actually checking how you are, and offering an empathy and attentiveness like nothing ever seen before.

And it’s not just the power of this technology that’s changing, but the ways it’s being made more accessible for businesses to adopt. Travel technology provider Sabre has partnered with Microsoft to develop a chatbot that could revolutionise mobile booking. Waiting in line to speak to someone about changing a reservation can quickly become tedious, but this bot’s making that a thing of the past – and US agencies Travel Solutions International and Casto Travel are the first to test it in action. Then there’s the Meta chatbot BotBot, opening up possibilities for a wider range of businesses. Starting with a template based on common consumer interactions, it can be created and customised within minutes – without assistance, and completely free of charge.

The best customer service experiences consist of two things: a personalised approach and immediacy, giving consumers the answers they need exactly when they want them. AI advancements to chatbots are on the way to ticking both of those boxes. But no matter how advanced, how far can the responses of a robot really go in replacing the human voice? For the majority of customers, the phone will always remain a key tool for business communication, with the human voice offering levels of personal immediacy that can never be replaced. While AI technology is on the rise, the replication of the genuine nature of a phone call is a far reach – and one that’s still out of grasp.