Artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbot platforms are taking the world by storm and revolutionizing diverse industries, but before AI was commonplace in chatbots, they were powered by different technologies that were not necessarily intelligent. Chatbots existed as early as the 1960s, and they have rapidly evolved since the development of AI. Today, chatbots are capable of performing incredible feats that come very close to human thinking and thought-processes.
This mimicry of the human thought-process comes from a chatbot’s ability to set goals and pursue them autonomously without any specific instructions — an ability referred to as a chatbot’s agency. This ability (AI) is the reason why chatbots are making a splash in areas such as customer service and sales today.
Chatbots Revolutionizing Customer Service And Sales
I think chatbots are the future, especially in customer service and sales. Here’s why:
1. Intelligent Chatbots Can Provide Preemptive Customer Service
Feeding on thousands of chats and their data, smart chatbots can be trained to recognize important patterns that indicate distress, frustration and annoyance and respond to issues before they escalate.
2. Smart Chatbots Can Reduce Training And Operation Costs
While human customer service agents need to be trained from time to time, based on new products and emerging customer behavior trends, intelligent chatbots need to be trained only once. They are self-learning and update knowledge autonomously.
3. Autonomous Chatbots Can Handle Customer Service 24/7
With human customer service agents, you have to hire in shifts to enable 24/7 customer service, which can double your operations and training costs. Autonomous chatbots can enable the same quality of service at no extra cost.
4. Intelligent Chatbots Can Scale The Volume Of Customers Served
From a logistics perspective, human customer support agents can face bottlenecks with support queries. Chatbots, on the other hand, can attend to customers simultaneously without deteriorating the quality of service provided.
5. Smart Chatbots Can Personalize Support With High Accuracy
Sales managers may fear adoption of chatbot technology because they assume that bots take away the human touch and lack personalization. The opposite is actually true. Intelligent chatbots have the potential to greatly personalize conversations, based on their vast stores of highly-organized data that humans can’t compete with.
Stages Of AI, And How They Can Be Applied In Chatbots Of Different Kinds
Over the years, bots have evolved in their intelligence and abilities, shedding old avatars for newer and more advanced ones. To understand what AI technology’s development has done for chatbots, you have to be exposed to the stages of AI’s evolution and what each stage had to offer in terms of abilities.
Stage One: Cue Readers
Chatbots in stage one have no real ability to understand what you’re saying and simply pick up phrases from your speech that they then match to an internal database before spouting scripted answers. However, such chatbots have the interesting ability to insert amusing fillers in conversations to prevent their lack of knowledge from betraying their limited capabilities. That’s why developers don’t fully ignore stage one and give it some importance, as the later stages pay little attention to emotion and personality in conversations.
Stage Two: Form Fillers
Chatbots in stage two are designed to perform very specific tasks such as making a restaurant reservation or ordering food for delivery. These chatbots have built-in forms that specify all the information that they need to receive from customers and continue making conversation with people until they have filled all the blank spaces. Such chatbots not only go by important phrases but also follow certain rules written by their programmers.
Stage Three: Intent Readers
Chatbots in stage three are akin to talking encyclopedias and are trained to run search queries for the information they need to converse. Such chatbots are constantly indexing information in massive databases from which they pull facts when needed. These bots can do much more than just state facts — they can also identify the part of speech being used by customers and accordingly generate answers to satisfy those queries.
Stage Four: Connection Makers
Chatbots in stages one, two and three are inept at holding long-running conversations with customers. This is because they typically read each sentence of a conversation separately without making interconnections between sentences. Bots in stage four, however, store histories of conversations and can draw from them to make highly coherent and relevant answers. Such bots are even capable of learning based on previous conversations and can constantly improve their ability to have conversations.
Stage Five: Problem Solvers
Chatbots in stage five understand the core problem that a customer is trying to solve. While you could program bots in stages one to four to search for solutions based on certain phrases, bots in stage five can solve such problems more efficiently. For instance, if a customer wants to catch a bus to a destination at a certain time, bots in stages one through four can check if such a bus is available and relay the information, but bots in stage five can suggest alternatives if such a bus is not available.
Stage Six: Companions
Chatbots in stage six are what developers dream of and sci-fi authors write about. Built somewhat like the robot Sophia, chatbots in stage six should have the ability to maintain dynamic and broad conversations that are not limited by subject or depth of any sort. Such bots can replace humans completely in most situations that require autonomous-thinking.
Autonomous chatbots are changing the world every day, and I think a future where such bots run most business tasks is not far away, considering the continuing development of AI and the technology that supports chatbots.