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Chatbots

Optimise your business processes with the power of AI

With the exponential growth of AI technology, it’s only natural that more and more applications are adopting chatbots to assist with business processes. Organisations can automate the manual process of answering repetitive questions, scheduling recurring appointments, and managing online support for faster business operations.

Chatbots are one of the most exciting new AI technologies and can be a key driver behind an organisation’s continued success – so here’s why you need chatbots and how you can leverage bots as a virtual assistant.

What are chatbots?

Chances are you’ve interacted with chatbots many times in your life and probably not even realised it. Ever asked Siri what the weather would be like tomorrow? Or initiated a live-chat popup on a product webpage? These are all common examples of chatbot interactions. Chatbots have become a common addition to the digital customer experience with many businesses leveraging their power and convenience.

Chatbots are a form of technology that use artificial intelligence (AI) to simulate a real-life conversation you have with another human by imitating natural language. Chatbots are usually deployed on websites, messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger, and can be communicated with either through a chat interface, or via voice. They can be programmed to understand specific prompts and user requests containing certain keywords before replying with a preconfigured answer. Machine learning chatbots like QBot are more complex and continuously learn from previous interactions to improve the quality of their responses.

Why are chatbots important?

The number of organisations using chatbots has increased exponentially in the past few years, and for good reason. With consumers’ expectations rising, it’s important to adopt innovative practices to remain competitive in this crowded environment. Below are a few reasons why your organisation should consider a chatbot:

24/7 availability

Unlike people, chatbots don’t need to sleep, get sick or take leave. Once deployed, they’re switched on every minute, all year round. With human agents, customers must often wait 3 business days for a response, with slow turnaround times for urgent queries. Chatbots, on the other hand, deliver almost instantaneous answers to questions no matter the time of day. By communicating like humans, chatbots can deliver an enhanced customer service experience that keeps customers engaged and satisfied. In the case of the aleX platform by Antares, the chatbot feature, QBot, provides students with answers to their questions, even if they’re pulling an ‘all-nighter’ before an exam, whilst their tutor or lecturer is unavailable.

Cost savings

Most organisations have a customer service team, but what happens if there’s an influx of requests but only limited manpower? The simple answer would be to hire more people and increase the size of the team. However, this isn’t a feasible long-term solution as you can’t keep growing your workforce to match the volume of requests. Chatbots can significantly reduce operational costs by handling the repetitive, time consuming requests so that your human agents can focus on the more complex queries. Each customer interaction with a chatbot that is answered and doesn’t progress to the call centre stage reduces your cost per query.

Increased productivity

Repetitive manual tasks are the bane of any organisation’s existence. Not only are they time consuming but they also substantially reduce the efficiency and job satisfaction of your workers. Chatbots increase employee productivity by freeing up their valuable time so they can focus on core operations that drive revenue. Whether deployed for internal or external use, chatbots offer incredible value with their ability to mimic human interaction and provide answers on-demand. Low complexity but time-consuming tasks such as booking meetings and requesting annual leave can all be handled by a bot, reducing the need to temporarily shift your staffs’ attention from important tasks.

Minimise errors

How often have you had information miscommunicated or passed on inconsistently? Inconsistent answers are a catalyst for frustration and dissatisfaction. With chatbots, organisations can be assured that all answers provided are consistent across all interactions. No matter the number of times a question is asked or by different individuals, chatbots will always give the same response. Human error is inevitable but can be detrimental to important queries. Chatbots can fill that gap and prove themselves to be a useful asset to any interaction.

Continuous optimisation

The beauty of smart AI chatbots lies with their ability to continuously improve and learn from each interaction. Unlike other types of technologies which become outdated at a surprising rate, machine learning chatbots become progressively more useful. Independent of human interference, they become smarter and offer more informative answers as time passes. For example, QBot builds a knowledge base of course content so that students can benefit from past interactions.

Consumer insights

Chatbot technology can provide organisations with clear insights into the common pain points of customers or employees, which can deliver opportunities for improvement. Whilst assisting customers with their queries, chatbots are also building a wealth of valuable customer data that can be used for business intelligence and further analysis. The identification of patterns and trends can help organisations forecast demand and act in a proactive manner to stay competitive. Antares can help drive a data driven culture within your organisation so that you can leverage key insights to make the right decision quickly. Contact us to discover how you can transform your existing data into valuable, business insights.

Types of chatbots

So, you’ve decided you want to enlist the assistance of a chatbot, now comes the difficult decision – which type of bot should you go for? There are many factors that contribute to your decision, but let’s first do a quick summary of the different types.

Rule-based chatbots

Rule-based chatbots, also known as scripted chatbots, are defined by a set of rules and communicate with individuals via preconfigured workflows. These types of chatbots are the most common and are frequently part of social media and live app chats. Using if/then logic, these chatbots work through decision trees mapped out by human agents and move through conversations with pre-determined next steps. As these logical next steps are created on the basis of anticipating what a user may ask, rule-based chatbots are unable to answer queries outside of these rules.

Organisations wanting to deploy a chatbot quickly to assist with simple matters can opt for a rule-based chatbot. However, as these chatbots are unable to understand keywords or context, they cannot learn from interactions. Rule-based chatbots are designed to only answer conversations in certain scenarios and cannot become smarter over time.

AI-powered chatbots

AI-powered chatbots are smarter bots. These chatbots use machine learning and natural language processing to comprehend what users are asking and respond by mimicking human language. Unlike rule-based chatbots, AI-powered chatbots aren’t restricted by learning conventions and can continuously learn. They can be programmed to understand various languages, interpret typos and adapt their answers according to different scenarios. When paired with deep learning, AI-powered chatbots’ capabilities can further be extended to detect the user’s mood and respond according to their emotions. As they can provide personalised customer service, AI-powered chatbots can handle inquiries end-to-end with minimal assistance from human agents.

Whilst AI chatbots are more capable than their rule-based counterparts, they are more costly and require a substantial amount of training time in order to become accustomed to the natural human language. As this type of chatbot utilises algorithms to detect patterns in sentences, a substantial amount of data must first be fed to them for an optimised experience.

Are you still on the fence with which chatbot you should deploy? Antares can help deploy a chatbot that is most suited to your organisation’s needs and requirements. Our expert consultants will work closely with you to provide a value adding chatbot that saves you both time and money.

Use Cases for Chatbots

The popularity of chatbots are on the rise and will be for the foreseeable future. A wide variety of industries and businesses are able to reap the benefits that chatbot technology offers for both improved customer service and employee productivity. So, aside from being deployed to answer live chats and resolve queries, where else can chatbots be used? There are many ways artificial intelligence bots can add value to your organisation. Here are a few of our favourite use cases for chatbots:

1. Bots to answer repetitive questions

The most obvious use for chatbots is to respond to commonly asked questions that eat up a substantial amount of your customer service team’s daily time. See, QBot for the education industry as an example.

2. Customer feedback bots

Want deeper insights into your customers? Chatbots can survey your customers and make them feel heard by collecting their complaints or feedback. You’ll no longer have to allocate a staff member to send out routine surveys and feedback forms with this automated process.

3. Bot for hiring and onboarding

Most hiring processes are long, convoluted and are a headache for HR staff who must look through hundreds of resumes. Gaps in recruitment stages where candidates don’t hear back from the company weeks is a poor experience that can affect their willingness to join your business. Chatbots can automate many of the time intensive efforts involved at the beginning of the recruitment process, such as scheduling interviews and responding to an applicant’s questions. Streamline the onboarding experience for new staff by enlisting the help of a chatbot to take care of orientation briefings regarding company policies and important information. New hires can also receive instant answers to common queries such as the company’s leave policy and where certain documents are located without having to dig around in search of them.

Our askSolution bot can alleviate the growing pains of your HR department and act as a virtual HR manager. Contact Antares and book a demo today to see how you can automate time-consuming business processes and free up your staff’s time.

4. Bots for setting appointments and meetings

As our lives get busier, appointments can easily slip our minds. Chatbots can efficiently schedule and set appointments for customers without the need for human agents. Not only can they free up your team’s time, but bots can also reduce the chances of last-minute cancellations and no shows by sending automated reminders.

5. Bots to handle refund and exchange requests for e-commerce

Online shopping has exploded in the past decade and with online purchases naturally comes returns. With chatbots, the entire returns and refund process is streamlined. Customers can easily arrange for a return, track the status of that return, and confirm it’s been successfully processed, all with the convenience of an intelligent bot.

6. Personalised recommendations bots

Would you rather manually scour through a website to search for a suitable product, or have a virtual assistant provide you with items catered towards your needs? If it’s the latter, then it’s likely your customers think the same. Product recommendations not only provide a personalised experience for your customers, but also increase their engagement and retention in the long-term. Customers are also more likely to purchase recommendations based on their needs and preferences, increasing revenue.

7. Bots to assist with site navigation

Even the most user-friendly and intuitive interface can benefit from the assistance of a chatbot. How so? When people land on your webpage, it often involves multiple clicks and menu drop downs before they find the information they’re looking for. Increase the usability and simplicity of your website by deploying a chatbot that provides a direct portal to the sought-after information. Whilst this doesn’t mean search bars and navigation can be eliminated, it does provide an alternative option for fast access to the relevant content.

Industries

Most people think the most common deployment of chatbots is for retail and e-commerce. Whilst this remains true, organisations operating within travel, banking and financial services, education and even healthcare can capitalise on chatbot potential.

Bots for the Travel Industry  

Going on holidays is something everyone enjoys. You get to relax, explore a completely new environment, and indulge in delicious food. But planning the trip and research can be hard. The process is often time consuming, overwhelming and complicated. You must scour through numerous booking websites for the best accommodation and low flight prices.

Chatbots can simplify this process by providing a streamlined and user-friendly approach to trip planning. Travelers can seek recommendations for flights and hotels from intuitive chatbots through a guided conversational interface, reducing the common friction and frustrations associated with bookings. By assisting with the booking process, users are more likely to finalise a reservation, resulting in reduced customer abandonment before completion. Aside from assisting with the planning stage of travel, chatbots can also offer help throughout the trip. AI-powered chatbots can even offer elaborate services such as trip planning, finding sightseeing spots, food recommendations, and even take care of currency exchange for travelers. Nobody likes being stranded in an unfamiliar country with an unresponsive customer support line. Give your customers an enjoyable travel experience from start to finish with chatbots’ abilities to work 24/7, no matter the time zone. Travelers can receive immediate answers to their prompts, minimising the amount of effort required for human agents having to tirelessly answer queries around the clock.

Banking and financial services bots 

We all know the frustrations associated with waiting on the support line and listening to questionable music, all for an issue with a bank statement. Chatbots can reduce the associated wait times for banking customers by resolving issues related to transactions and accounts in a faster, easier manner. Simple tasks such as locating a customer’s most recent statement and finding the nearest ATM for them can all be instantly settled. Other more advanced actions such as selling a credit card to a customer by matching the product’s benefits to the customer circumstances, and pushing dynamic personalised notifications can all be achieved with artificial intelligence bots.

Another useful feature of chatbots is their ability to solicit feedback from customers. Customer feedback is an essential step in improving bank services and providing direction, however it is commonly foregone by human agents. Conversational AI bots provide an easy medium for customers to express their opinions and give them the confidence that their valuable feedback will be heard.

Bots for Education 

Everybody learns at a different pace and has a learning style. However, the teaching model in the classroom has vastly remained the same for the past few decades and continues not taking into account the different learning needs of students. Chatbots can act as virtual advisors to students and shoulder a sizeable burden for teaching staff in assisting with individual questions and increasing student engagement with personalised teaching. With on demand answers and quick turnaround, teaching staff no longer have to spend ample amounts of time responding to frequent questions, freeing up their time to focus on core tasks.

Our aleX platform consists of three unique components – Digital Learning Assistant (QBot), Analytics Engine, and Provisioning Engine – which help to drive engagement for students, educators, and the institution.

QBot is an AI-powered chatbot developed by Antares that uses machine learning and AI to instantly answer students’ queries and free up educators’ time. Having successfully been deployed and adopted at UNSW, QBot has digitalised the learning experience by proactively answering students’ questions and personalising the learning experience for increased engagement.

To see how the aleX platform and the Digital Learning Assistant (QBot) can revolutionise your students’ learning journey, contact Antares at +612 8275 8811 for a consultation.

Bots for Healthcare 

Who hasn’t Googled their symptoms only to be shocked with a rather serious diagnosis that is nowhere near the truth? Whilst doctors can provide the most accurate diagnosis for illnesses, sometimes patients just want a quick answer to their burning health related question without the professional jargon.

Chatbots can provide a frictionless experience for patients by imitating a conversation they may have with a doctor and offering relevant advice and guidelines. Aside from being a diagnostic tool, chatbots can also assist with scheduling appointments. Of course, this advice can’t replace that of a qualified health professional.

In addition, instead of having a patient manually call up or email the hospital to book a check-up, this can all be done via a guided process by a conversational AI chatbot. One of the most valuable uses for chatbots in healthcare are their ability to nudge and automatically send alerts to patients for post treatments and medication reminders. Not only do patients have a personal assistant reminding them of important procedures, but healthcare workers also have more time to spare to focus on other essential tasks.

Chatbot Solutions with Antares

Think that you’re ready to welcome a chatbot into your organisation? Antares’s consultants can help you build and deploy an artificial intelligence bot catered towards your needs. As a Microsoft Gold Partner, we know how to create chatbots that add value to your business and streamline your operations. Contact Antares on +61 2 8275 8811 to find out more about our existing chatbot solutions – QBot and askSolution, or our platform for education, aleX, or a custom chatbot development.

FAQs

1. What is the best AI chatbot?

There are so many chatbots available, and of course, not all AI chatbots are created equally. Like most other things in the world, it’s difficult to determine what the ‘best’ is, as different individuals have different needs. A chatbot that completely suits a competitor’s business may not be a perfect fit for yours. To determine the best AI chatbot for your organisation, make sure to consider your requirements, what scenarios you’ll need it for, and the capabilities first. By doing all the prep work and research, you’ll be able to choose a chatbot solution that is the best fit for your needs.

2. What AI techniques are used in Chatbots?

Not all chatbots are AI-powered and have the extended capabilities of being able to understand natural languages. Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NPL) are the two enablers that work behind the scenes to create a human-like conversation.

User queries are processed and analysed using NLP which breaks down each sentence, gives meaning to the inputs and allows the chatbot to understand the intent of the message. Without NPL, requests are just a string of meaningless words that hold no value to a chatbot. Once the chatbot understands the user’s intent, it responds with an answer based on its existing knowledge base and data that has been created using machine learning. With machine learning, chatbots can progressively learn from interactions. Machine learning algorithms analyse the numerous conversations for patterns which enable the chatbot to independently grow and improve without human intervention.

3. What are AI powered Chatbots?

Artificial intelligence bots are a program that simulates a conversation one would have a human agent by using machine learning and natural language processing. They can conduct advanced interactions and are able to interpret commands and words beyond a pre-determined set of rules. Once deployed they can continuously learn from each engagement and improve their answers and knowledge bank.

4. What is Natural Language Processing?

Natural language processing is a branch of artificial intelligence that enables computers to understand and manipulate human language. It relies on machine learning to decipher and derive meaning from both speech and written text.

5. Do all chatbots use AI?

There are two main types of chatbots – rule based, and AI based. Rule based chatbots answer questions with a set of pre-defined rules and conditions. These bots do not use any AI techniques and cannot provide answers beyond a pre-established scope. AI based chatbots leverage Natural Language Processing (NLP) and machine learning to continuously self-learn and improve. With constant learning, these AI bots can provide personalised support and handle queries from end to end.