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Understanding conversational technology through the evolution of communication

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Bot-assisted chats

From a business perspective, bot-assisted chat was our first step into the world of advanced conversational technology that we know today. This is still a predominantly human-to-human interaction, but a bot is there to provide a few prescripted prompts prior to the conversation so its human counterpart has a general understanding of the customer’s information or looking to make a change to their account, as well as whether they are a current customer or a prospect.

While this should make the conversation with a representative easier in theory, these bots have limited capabilities. Their goal is to ensure the customer is connected with the right person but, by only uncovering responses to a handful of general questions, their understanding of the customer’s true needs are surface-level. Because they cannot come to a deep understanding from the preprogrammed prompts, there is no way for them to figure out what specific information the person is looking for or to provide them with an answer. Since another 33% of customers are most frustrated by having to repeat themselves to multiple support reps, according to HubSpot, organizations realized they needed a better solution to improve the customer experience.

Chatbots

To provide modern customers with the support they need, next came chatbots. A chatbot is a software platform designed to interact with humans via text or voice engagement. Evolving from bot-assisted chats, this technology can either answer the user’s questions or direct them to the right person who can provide the information they need. And when AI is involved, the bot continues to learn based on previous results to reduce errors and increase answer match rates in the future—meaning there is increasingly less need for human intervention.

Creating a superior customer experience is one of the biggest priorities for business leaders today and, to no surprise, great customer experience is critical to any company’s success. According to HubSpot customer service research, happy customers will share their experience with roughly 11 people, but angry customers will share their experience with about 15 people. Today, organizations use chatbots to provide around-the-clock assistance to their customers and their teams. Gone are the days of customer support teams stressing out over the number of inquiries they need to answer before they head home for the day. Chatbots are there to steer customers straight to the information they need without bombarding your team.

Virtual assistants

Bots can then graduate into virtual assistants, also considered digital assistants. Similar to a chatbot, virtual assistants
are there to provide information and help us get things done. The difference is, with a virtual assistant, it’s not only answering questions and providing information, but it already has some context around who it’s speaking to—including some history and preferences of the person. An AI-powered virtual assistant allows us to fulfill tasks or find information as simply as saying, “Hey, Siri.”

This is valuable for businesses because virtual assistants are able to provide a personalized experience for customers. Since it is already armed with insights about the person, a virtual assistant can accurately provide results thanks to both AI and the customer information it already has stored in its knowledgebase.

AI assistants

Then, at the top of the communication evolution pyramid, we have the future of chat: full-blown AI assistants. This is when the bot is able to predict where the conversation is going and learn as the interaction is happening. AI assistants are connected to so many different systems, that they are able to do things we couldn’t do with conversational technology before, such as facilitate a workflow. We can ask our AI assistants to handle a task, then completely remove ourselves from the situation, knowing it will still get done.

The future of communication

Full-blown AI assistants may be a thing of the not-so-distant future, and we can already see this evolution in AI-driven
chatbots and virtual assistants. With AI, bots are able to provide access to the knowledge we need, when we need it, so there is no waiting around for someone else to fetch the information. But bots can also automate tedious tasks so we’re able to focus on more challenging assignments.

Organizations can take advantage of this ever-evolving technology to provide customers with a superior, personalized experience. With these tools, businesses have the ability to offer high-quality support and conflict resolution at any time of the day and for a large number of people simultaneously. As we look to the future, AI-driven tools will continue to play a larger role in simplifying communication and increasing team productivity.

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