Conversation is inviting. It’s comforting. It adds context, personality, and emotion to the way we communicate. Without conversation, all we have is sound. Sounds is great, but sound alone is not transactional. Conversational AI makes use of advances in artificial intelligence to communicate with users, customers, and others using conversation. It’s exciting and I’m going to explain a few reasons why the hype is warranted.
Conversational AI: A Definition
An article on GeorgianPartners defines Conversational AI as “the use of messaging apps, speech-based assistants and chatbots to automate communication and create personalized customer experiences at scale,” but what does that really mean? To put it in simple terms, conversational AI makes use of virtual agents that aren’t real to interact with users and complete a goal. Developers and designers collaborate on these experiences and train machine learning models to understand the thousands of ways a user might respond to a specific question or query.
The Conversational AI Rush
When you open your banking app and are presented with the option to speak with a bot, there is an element of conversational AI in play. This virtual agent has been trained to help you with most things you’d want to accomplish with a customer service agent. You can ask the bot things like “Check my balance” or “Request Checks” and it has a pretty great chance of completing the task without ever needing to get a real human to assist.
This is of value because we’re living in a world where our smartphone has become our life compass. We rely on it daily for tasks like checking the weather, listening to music, finding directions, or locating a local bar for happy hour. It’s amazing to watch this transition and see our devices evolve into personal customer support agents, always on and ready.
Is my organization ready?
Determining if your company is ready to take on conversational AI can be a challenge. It’s a very new space and even the experts are still figuring things out. Luckily, If you’re looking to get started, there are a ton of resources available to assist. Here are a few things you can do the begin your journey:
- Find a conversation design tool. – One of the best ways to jump into a new technology is to play around with it. Think of your favorite brand or a company you admire and see if they have a live virtual assistant somewhere on the web. If so, use a tool like Botsociety to try an recreate the experience yourself.
- Explore building options – Once you’ve completed a few proofs of concepts you might be ready to play around and start building a working bot. While a conversation design tool will help with the design, it won’t allow you to build something that actually works. Tools like Dialogflow, Rasa, and the MS Bot Framework are great places to start when speaking with developers and working to identify technical constraints within your project.
- Build a team – A conversational AI project includes lots of moving parts and you will need support to release something that is engaging and delightful for your user. Start speaking with product and UX designers, speech engineers, linguists and more. A robust conversational AI team makes all of the difference and you will thank yourself for spending time in building the team out for long-term success.
Conversational AI is here and we’re happy to provide a platform that allows you to explore these ideas and play with new concepts and applications of artificial intelligence. What are your thoughts? How can a chatbot or voice assistant be meaningful for you?
Also published on Medium.