Whether we notice it or not, we interact with computers quite frequently. And when a machine manages to come up with a witty, smart, human-like reply, our interactions become so much more enjoyable. This is achieved through conversational AI.
From automated emails and voice assistants, conversational AI is what runs behind the scenes to enable the dialogue to flow. It analyzes the text or speech, identifies the intent, and provides a suitable response to match that intent.
If you’re curious to learn what conversational AI is, why it’s useful, how it works, and some of its challenges, read on!
What Is Conversational AI?
Let’s start by defining the term:
Conversational AI is a technology that enables machines to communicate with people in a human-like manner. This can happen through spoken or written text, depending on the type of technology.
Conversational AI uses machine learning, deep learning, and natural language processing to digest large amounts of data and learn how to best respond to a given query. A big benefit is that it can work in any language based on the data it’s been trained on.
Conversational AI vs. Chatbots
Conversational AI and chatbots are often mixed up and used interchangeably; however, there is a notable difference between them. The main distinction is that conversational AI is more developed as it relies on artificial intelligence much more than chatbots.
Conversational AI is a large concept implemented in various technologies and tools. The voice assistant you use to check the weather, for instance, is one conversational AI example.
Chatbots are simpler tools that typically run on pre-defined rules. This is why sometimes chatbots fail to understand your question and give an irrelevant answer. More advanced tools such as virtual assistants are another conversational AI example. They rely on AI more strongly and use complex machine learning algorithms to learn from data on their own and yield better results.
Conversational AI has contextual awareness that enables it to understand the intent of the text and overlook misspelled words or differently formatted questions. On the other hand, script-based chatbots are incapable of deciphering any text they haven’t been trained for.
Benefits of Conversational AI
Conversational AI has a wide scope of use cases: It’s on websites, social media platforms, voice-activated assistants, smart home devices, and the like. As convenient and efficient as it is for personal use, it also offers many business advantages. Let’s unveil how conversational AI can benefit you and your business.
Customers nowadays seek 24/7 support from companies, but maintaining a whole customer service department that operates around the clock is quite costly, especially for smaller businesses. While conversational AI can’t entirely substitute human agents, it can take care of most of the basic interactions, helping companies reduce the cost of hiring and training a large workforce.
Another business aspect where AI has proven its efficiency is time management. Conversations with clients can be very time-consuming, and most user queries tend to be repetitive or similar in nature. To save support agents the manual work of constantly responding to repeating requests, businesses turn to AI customer service. This creates a win-win scenario where customers get quick answers to their questions, and support specialists have more free time to attend to other issues.
Increased Engagement and Sales
When users stumble upon a minor problem or confusion on a website, they don’t always call or email a support specialist. Instead, they leave and try to find what they were looking for on another platform. This is a big loss for any business, and conversational AI is used to prevent this scenario.
A friendly assistant that’s always ready to help users solve issues regardless of the time or date will prompt potential customers to stick with your brand rather than turn to a competitor. In addition to that, it can also recommend products or services users might be interested in, thus increasing the likelihood of a purchase.
How Does Conversational AI Work?
To understand how conversational AI works, it’s crucial to understand its components. This type of AI combines machine learning and natural language processing (NLP). NLP analyzes human language allowing machines to understand and converse with people. Similar technology to this is automatic speech recognition (ASR) which is used to recognize and translate spoken language.
Once the speech is translated into text through ASR and the text is analyzed through NLP, machines form a suitable response based on the intent they detected. The role of machine learning in this entire process is to study the available data to find patterns, make corrections, and improve its performance over time.
Challenges of Conversational AI
As an evolving technology, conversational AI is still far from being flawless and is being tested, modified, and improved every day. Thanks to reinforcement learning, it’s constantly digesting new data and refining its output. However, there are a few obstacles this technology is wrestling with as of now.
- Linguistic Nuances
Human communication is not always straightforward; in fact, it often contains sarcasm, humor, variations of tones, and emotions that computers might find hard to understand. When it comes to speech, dialects, slang, and accents are an extra challenge for AI to overcome.
- Privacy Concerns
Conversational AI relies on information to operate, raising privacy and security concerns among some people. This leaves AI companies with the big responsibility to adhere to privacy standards and be transparent with their policies.
- Public Skepticism
Any new advancement inevitably comes with some kind of apprehension from the general public. While it’s important to eliminate the misconceptions about chatbots and other AI products, researchers and tech companies need to realize that the public will need some time to warm up to and adopt novel technologies.
How to Implement Conversational AI
Now that you have a well-rounded understanding of conversational AI with its benefits and challenges, you might be wondering how to incorporate it into your business. For this, you have two options: build an AI tool from scratch or use an already existing platform to speed up the process.
Let’s break down the process of integrating an AI assistant into your business.
1. Specify Your Objectives
Regardless of which aspect of your business you’re striving to optimize, you need to define your pain points and objectives clearly. It could be improving your website’s user experience, reducing response wait times, or providing 24/7 availability to customers. Getting specific with the goals you want to achieve will help you pick the right strategy.
2. Customize Your AI Assistant
Every company has its distinct personality, and to preserve and present yours, you need to customize your AI assistant to match your brand. This begins with naming your assistant, setting up its style, and picking its colors. It’s best to go with a customizable widget that you can entirely adjust to your brand’s style.
3. Train Your Assistant
Just like you would teach a new employee to communicate with clients in a certain way and tone, you need to do the same for your assistant. After all, it’s just as integral to your company as your support team.
You can train your AI tool based on frequently asked questions, past tickets, and any other historical data you have. Be sure that the tone of voice your AI assistant uses is consistent with your brand identity.
4. Track and Optimize
With any new tool or practice that you introduce into your business, you need specific KPIs that will assess its effectiveness. In the case of conversational AI, your KPIs might be first response time, average resolution time, chat to conversion rate, customer satisfaction score, and others. Once you gain more experience and data, you can always go back and retrain your assistant.
Artificial intelligence keeps evolving, and so does its role in modern life and business. Conversational AI is the technology running behind conversations between a human and a machine. It relies on NLP, ASR, and machine learning to make sense of and respond to human language.
If you’re looking to implement a powerful yet user-friendly AI solution, Hoory is an excellent choice for you. Get started with 4 months of free access to all of Hoory’s features now!