When attending trade shows and conferences supporting Conversica, a question I am frequently asked is whether Conversica's Intelligent Virtual Assistant for customer engagement is "a chatbot." And while I can understand the source of the question, I emphatically stress that Conversica is not a chatbot. A more cynical reader might assume that this differentiation is little more than branding. But I can assure you there are very real differences between what the Conversica Sales AI Assistant offers and what chatbot providers deliver. Each technology has its place and purpose, but neither is synonymous with the other.
Virtual assistants - such as the iPhone's Siri and Microsoft's Cortana - are included on smartphones and computers to make life easier, allowing users to issue commands, such as "call mum", or easily search for nearby facilities such as restaurants and petrol stations. But Eckstein believes five per cent of interactions with his company's chatbot are now sexually explicit. He also claims a third of conversations take place for no particular reason, with many users just wanting to chat. Deborah Harrison, a writer for Microsoft's Cortana, told the Virtual Assistant Summit earlier this year that "a good chunk of the volume of early-on inquiries" were about the chatbot's sex life. The issue has inspired films such as Her, which was released in 2013 and tells the tale of a lonely writer, who becomes obsessed with his operating system's virtual assistant, voiced by Scarlett Johansson.
Chatbots are fast becoming part of the here and now for businesses, consumers and public-facing organisations. But the early generations of bot are already being replaced by smarter, more useful versions, so just where will we be with chatbots come 2020? The move to smarter chatbots is already underway with natural language processing and AI technologies helping the system understand what we're asking or talking about better. Bots can also do deeper research to find us answers, rather than just going with what's in their script. Consider 2018 the year that chatbots get smarter, but there's someway to go before businesses consider them'smart': regardless of how impressed consumers are by them.
AI-powered chatbots can help contact center staff's to automate their daily tasks such as Tier-1 inquiries. Chatbots are able to front between 20 to 30% of Tier-1 customer queries. Leveraging on this technology can help businesses to reduce customer service costs and allow agents to address and focus on more complex queries.