Intelligent Bots

Technology has rapidly shaped how businesses conduct their operations with it now being a key factor in enabling organisations to remain competitive in the current landscape. Despite starting as a simple chat tool, the incorporation of artificial intelligence has allowed chatbots to evolve and become an important aspect in an organisation’s daily operations. Chatbots now play an integral role within organisations of all sizes, often undertaking the position of customer service and support assistants.

Bots have become one of the most recognisable applications of artificial intelligence as organisations strive to improve the user experience and drive business value. Commonly referred to as intelligent chatbots, these bots are infused with artificial intelligence and machine learning, enabling them to carry out advanced tasks and automate processes that typically weighed down your staff. If you are looking to gain a competitive advantage over your competitors, then intelligent bots are definitely something you should leverage.

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What are Intelligent Bots?

Intelligent bots are based on the foundation of chatbots but utilise advanced technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing to undertake more complex queries. These AI chatbots can continuously learn and improve themselves with each subsequent human interaction, slowly adapting their conversations and emotions to the manner that people speak in. When deployed as part of an omnichannel strategy, intelligent bots can considerably boost an organisation’s competitive edge by improving productivity and lowering the cost of support.  

Features that make a Chatbot Intelligent

Understanding human conversations

Human conversations are relatively difficult for technology to comprehend due to the various contexts and underlying variables to it. Intelligent bots can understand and analyse the sentiment of the conversation and respond in an appropriate manner that mimics that of a human agent. Some conversations may also have typos or incomplete sentences, where a bot must be able to deduce the meaning of the query by understanding the intent and contextual relevance.  

Human-like

As the first point of contact for many customers when seeking support, intelligent bots should be able to converse with customers as a human agent would. As customers often want to feel connected and appreciated, chatbots must be able to carry the conversation with patterns that resonate that of humans to put them at ease and deliver a personalised experience.  

Understands its ability

An AI chatbot should know the limits of its capabilities and carry out tasks to the best of its ability but alert human agents of queries that exceed them. 

Predictive thinking

Intelligent bots should be programmed to always think at least a step forward and drive the conversation by answering the customer’s question and suggesting additional assistance. By providing relative suggestions, the chatbot can offer extra services and condense multiple queries within one session for an efficient and interactive experience.  

Progressive learning

By leveraging artificial intelligence, intelligent bots can learn from each interaction by collecting the chat transcript and analysing them for future improvements. Overtime, the bot will be able to better gauge customers’ issues, respond with more human like sentiments, and resolve issues in a more efficient manner. 

Role of Intelligent Bots in Business

Due to the smart nature of intelligent bots, they have a diverse range of roles they can undertake in the business environment. These include serving as personal assistants, tech support, customer support, to even operating as an entire business function. Messenger chatbots have proliferated in the e-commerce industry, thanks to their 24/7 availability to provide support and engage with customers. However, AI chatbots’ practicality extends far beyond a customer facing use case.  

Chatbots can serve as convenient assistants in industries such as finance, travel, healthcare, real estate, education and plenty more. Repetitive tasks are common in any industry and chatbots can help automate these transactional activities to free up staff’s time and energy so they can focus on more high value, stimulating work. Gartner estimates that by 2022, 70% of professionals will be interacting with a form of conversational AI daily. This means that it is essential that IT managers and decision makers are incorporating AI chatbots into their technology strategy to ensure continued business growth and competitiveness. If that isn’t reason enough to seriously consider chatbots for your organisation, then here are three more ways bots can help you realise your business goals.  

How do Intelligent Bots work?

Due to the smart nature of intelligent bots, they have a diverse range of roles they can undertake in the business environment. These include serving as personal assistants, tech support, customer support, to even operating as an entire business function. Messenger chatbots have proliferated in the e-commerce industry, thanks to their 24/7 availability to provide support and engage with customers. However, AI chatbots’ practicality extends far beyond a customer facing use case.  

Chatbots can serve as convenient assistants in industries such as finance, travel, healthcare, real estate, education and plenty more. Repetitive tasks are common in any industry and chatbots can help automate these transactional activities to free up staff’s time and energy so they can focus on more high value, stimulating work. Gartner estimates that by 2022, 70% of professionals will be interacting with a form of conversational AI daily. This means that it is essential that IT managers and decision makers are incorporating AI chatbots into their technology strategy to ensure continued business growth and competitiveness. If that isn’t reason enough to seriously consider chatbots for your organisation, then here are three more ways bots can help you realise your business goals.  

Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Processing is a branch of artificial intelligence that involves technology extracting, interpreting and deriving meaning from human language to make sense of it. NLP works by breaking down sentences into shorter pieces and then applying analytics to determine the relationships between the pieces before combining them together with the relevant context to create meaning. With NLP, chatbots are able to better identify the customer’s intent, sentiment, and emotions, enabling them to converse more naturally. This removes the robotic feeling that may come across when communicating with chatbots.  Below are the elements of Natural Language Processing that are involved in chatbots:

  1. Utterance: These are the inputs made by the user which the chatbot will derive intent and entities from.  
  2. Intent: An intent refers to the intention and the motive of the user when sending a message to a chatbot. They are often recognised by chatbots as a combination of a verb and a noun, for example, deleteContact.  
  3. Entity: Entities are text that are usually nouns which can describe anything such as time, location, number, city, and organisation. They specify the intent of the user and are important to capture in determining what action for the chatbot to undertake.  
  4. Context: Context is the set of predefined parameters in which a chatbot operates during a session. It is used to maintain the state of the conversation and helps stores any data exchanged between the user and the bot.   
  5. Session: A session is a single conversation between a user and a chatbot. It usually begins when a user starts interacting with the bot and concludes when their need has been resolved and they stop conversing with the chatbot.  

Machine Learning

Machine learning is the process of using algorithms to improve systems’ abilities to learn and improve with minimal human intervention. When implemented in the instance of chatbots, it enables the bot to pull bits of information from previous sessions and use it to infer answers for future questions. By capturing information from previous interactions, the bot is able to increase its data log with each subsequent conversation. With this process, the bot develops its own consciousness and utilises its data bank to continuously learn and improve its responses.  

Which Channels can Chatbots be Deployed?

Depending on the channels that your organisation uses to communicate with customers and internal staff members, you can better engage personnel with the help of a chatbot. Chatbots can be deployed on nearly any digital platform such as websites, social media, and mobile apps. Here are a few channels that an intelligent bot can be deployed and their own respective advantages.  

  • Website 

Deploying a chatbot to your website can be a helpful engagement tool that delivers a personalised experience for the visitor. An intelligent chatbot can converse with the individual in a friendly manner reminiscent of a human agent, providing them with prompt support should they have any questions that arise. They can help you convert your visitors into prospective leads by honing down on their needs and segmenting them by asking unique questions. With the vast majority of website visitors not taking any action when they land on a webpage, chatbots can act as a guide or reminder in directing users to download a guide or sign up to a newsletter. By capturing the visitor’s contact details, they can be added to a marketing automation whereby engagement material can be sent to them so they can move further down the marketing funnel.  

  • Microsoft Teams 

The communication and collaboration platform already has multiple pre-configured chatbots such as ScrumGenius and Polly which have made it exceptionally easy for team mates to keep track of tasks and stay connected with one another. Chatbots deployed within the fabric of Microsoft Teams are used internally by organisations to improve staff productivity, internal communications, and foster a positive work culture. However, organisations are also empowered to build a custom bot using Microsoft’s Power Virtual Agents offering where they can create powerful chatbots without needing lines of code. These can be deployed to a designated channel or team and perform actions such as send reminder notifications or emails using conditional logic.  

Antares provides both Power Virtual Agents and custom bot development services that can assist with many common business functions. With Microsoft Teams being the tool of choice for internal communication, chatbots can greatly enhance how internal staff undertake their daily tasks which can lead to a boost in productivity and efficiency. Read more to discover how Antares deployed an educational chatbot in Teams for UNSW and provided students with 24/7 support whilst saving educators precious time that was previously spent on answering repetitive questions.   

  • Facebook 

Messenger bots have become a common customer engagement tool on Facebook that is used by businesses. As chatbots are still a relatively new marketing concept compared to paid advertising, by opting to use a conversational chatbot as part of your customer communication strategy can help organisations reach their target audience more directly. There are currently over 300,000 active chatbots available on Facebook Messenger which perform a variety of different tasks such as providing 24/7 customer support, handling e-commerce transactions, scheduling appointments, and sending reminders. Organisations can enjoy significant cost and labour savings thanks to chatbots’ abilities to instantly resolve customer queries and collect user data that can be used for better personalised targeting.  

  • Mobile apps 

Chatbots deployed on mobile apps allow organisations to interact with customers in a more intimate fashion of one-to-one messages. AI powered bots that provide customised replies based on customer responses can be leveraged to answer recurring queries, delivering an always on platform for customer support. Organisations can choose to either introduce a chatbot to an existing mobile app or develop a mobile app solely for the chatbot. New mobile apps are more suited to internal facing use cases such as streamlining employee onboarding or automating expense reports. Incorporating a chatbot to a current mobile app is best suited for external customer facing scenarios due to their existing user base. With the increasing occurrence of app fatigue, this option does not require customers to download a separate app to access the functionalities provided by the AI chatbot.  

How do Intelligent Chatbots work?

There are five core steps involved in chatbots being able to understand, interpret and converse with a user:

1. Tokenising

Tokenising involves a sentence being broken up into singular words called tokens whereby punctuation is also removed. This process turns a sentence into a format that a computer can comprehend.  

2. Normalising

The chatbot then processes the text to identify typos, slang, abbreviations, and common spelling errors before converting them to a standard version of the word. During this procedure, another step called lemmatisation also occurs which transforms words with the same meaning into their root forms where they can then be analysed as a single item.  

3. Recognising entities

Named Entity Recognition is where the chatbot identifies and categorises what type of information the text entails. These pieces of information are referred to as entities and can be a singular word or a phrase. For example, the bot would identify Tokyo as a location and Nathan as a name.  

4. Dependency parsing

With dependency parsing, the relationship between two words is analysed to reveal what the user wishes to convey. The chatbot separates the sentence into nouns, verbs, subjects, phrases, and punctuation where the grammatical structure is then examined to identify dependencies.  

5. Generation

Finally, the chatbot generates several appropriate responses based on the information determined from the previous steps. As each of the responses have the same meaning, the bot selects and sends the response that best correlates with the context of the user’s question and their linguistic nuances.  

Types of Intelligent Bots

Ready made

These types of bots are prepackaged and ready to quickly deploy. They come equipped with built in features and are quite economical, making them suitable for organisations with a smaller budget. However, it can be difficult and complicated to add any additional features beyond the current scope to these bots.  

Custom

If you wish to deploy a bot for a specific purpose with sophisticated courses of action, then a custom chatbot may be the way to go. These usually feature a set of custom logic with features exclusively catered towards your organisation’s needs and are perfect for those operating in unique industries.  

To decide which one best suits your organisation’s needs, ask yourself these questions: 

  • How sophisticated do you want the bot’s ability to be? 

The beauty of custom bots is that there are pretty much no limits to what abilities you want the bot to have. Their actions are uniquely catered towards your organisation’s needs and can be further developed to undertake more advanced activities. An off the shelf solution is vastly restricted in its breadth of abilities, whereby its capabilities are accommodated for generic use cases which can prove to be difficult for organisations operating in niche industries.  

  • How much are you willing to spend for a bot? 

Developing anything from scratch is more expensive than an out of the box version. If you’re constrained by a tight budget, you’ll have to forgo some features and capabilities of the bot as it may simply be too expensive to incorporate. However, whilst the upfront cost is more considerable than an off the shelf bot, a custom chat can be more cost effective in the long run as all its abilities are specifically built for your organisation. This means you’ll avoid paying for pre-built features that aren’t relevant to your business.  

  • How quickly do you want a chatbot deployed?  

Out of the box options usually have several templates which can jumpstart your bot creation process. This means that you can get a chatbot deployed within a matter of seconds albeit it probably must go through a few iterations before it becomes what you’re after. Custom bots require substantially more time to deploy as everything will be created from scratch. Aside from the coding time, the bot will also undertake multiple cycles of testing and editing where there will be plenty of back and forth in between changes.  

Future of AI Chatbots

There is no denying that chatbots are here to stay with more and more companies incorporating it into their customer service and internal processes. The rise of artificial intelligence and its application to multiple business enabled technologies means that more industries and business functions can benefit from its implementation.  

The success of chatbots within the customer service landscape will grow exponentially thanks to its seamless integration with many CRM offerings which enables lead nurturing and targeted marketing to be conducted automatically. A key differentiator in how organisations undertake their customer support and engagement will be dependent on how they leverage the power of chatbots and how advanced AI has been integrated within the technology. Customers now have a multichannel digital presence with an increased expectation to have their needs served by organisations on the platforms of their choosing. Greater optimisation of AI chatbots means there will be more satisfactory customer experiences whereby bots can handle more complex tasks and play key roles in any organisation. 

Increased development in the field of natural language processing and machine learning means that chatbots will take on human-like characteristics that allow for more natural, conversational flows. Chatbots will be able to see through typos and comprehend intricate human nuances that make it possible for them to undertake the role of virtual assistants. They will increasingly be able to resolve queries and problems without the need of human intervention, resulting in greater labour and cost savings for organisations.  

Why Antares?

Antares can help you develop a custom intelligent bot dedicated towards your organisation’s needs by revolutionising the way you work and interact. Powered by AI and machine learning capabilities, our custom bots can integrate into your business operation and efficiently carry out routine tasks with minimal human intervention. Our intelligent bots can continuously learn and improve throughout deployment, so that your organisation can achieve greater success and efficiency. For more information on custom bot development, contact Antares on +61 2 8275 8811.   

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