The Evolution of Chatbots: What’s being developed today and what’s on the horizon

Angshuman Patra, our head of NA Delivery; and Jay Sanborn, our AVP of Cloud Platform Engineering are both passionate about delivering solutions that exceed customer expectations. In the following Q&A, we ask them about the evolution of chatbot solutions – what Ness is delivering today and what Ness will be developing in the future as the technology matures.

What type of chatbots solutions are our clients looking for?

Our clients are looking for chatbots to automate business processes that are highly repetitive and to facilitate faster responses to customers, partners and employees. Customer support, customer self-service, IT support and employee self-service processes are some examples. As the technology matures, we anticipate Ness will build chatbots for more complex and intelligent interactions with end users when they work in conjunction with backend platforms.

Ness helps clients determine the best business uses for chatbot technologies, and then we help them select, implement, customize, and integrate chatbot technologies, including with other enterprise systems, to improve business processes and services.

What problems are these chatbots assumed to cover?

Chatbots can have an impact on call centers and the operational challenges they face, including increased caller volume, high rate of agent attrition and high cost of agent recruitment and training. Chatbots make it easy to respond to typical FAQ type questions without the user needing to search through the organization’s website or having to speak with a call center agent. At the complex end, chatbots can analyze sentiments and transfer customers to live agents, produce business optimized responses to questions or provide recommendations based on personal and group preferences.

What platform/software do we use when developing chatbots?

We have worked with platforms including Google’s DialogFlow, AWS Lex, Twilio Studio and Passage AI. Passage AI, an omnichannel, artificial intelligence (AI) digital communications platform, enables automated customer communications via chatbot, Facebook, SMS, Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri, and other digital channels.

What technologies and capabilities are key when building a chatbot?

The technologies we find particularly valuable are AI, natural language processing (NLP) for 100+ languages, and text/voice capabilities. Additionally, the ability to integrate third party applications, data warehouses and telecommunications systems is important.

What could be improved and why?

Current chatbot technologies are primarily single-use applications. There are many advancements possible, from real person voice interaction (currently being pioneered by Google Duplex) to sentiment responses (based on what you feel) and optimized responses (based on what’s best for the business and the customer). Some of these improvements will require changes to the back-end system and their integration.

What do you like about the chatbot experience? What do you not like?

Chatbots enable customers to get the support and information they need faster.  Additionally, customers deem the information more accurate than interfacing with a customer support agent. The area of improvement for an AI-powered chatbot that would be useful to address is the NLP translation agent, which needs to become more intelligent to interpret questions better, improve accuracy of responses and get better at languages and dialects in a short amount of time. As with most technologies, we expect the capabilities of chatbot software solutions will improve over time.