From small business owners to global influencers, chatbot customer service has been hyped as one of the most important customer experience solutions for businesses today. No matter what the customer is buying, be it software from an online giant or carnations from a local flower shop, a chatbot may be there to help drive the purchase. So for business owners and IT pros who want their bot to stand out, be sure to consider an NLP chatbot and conversational UI.
No two bots work the same. From programming to usage, every bot will rise or fall based on how well it is matched to customer needs. But in general, an NLP chatbot gives a greater chance of success, as it listens more closely to what each customer says. But before showing why an NLP chatbot performs better than traditional self-service solutions, we’ll explain what these bots do.
What is an NLP Chatbot?
NLP stands for natural language processing. Therefore, an NLP chatbot uses artificial intelligence to listen and interpret whatever a user says or types. This process replaces a traditional branched approach, which requires users to stick to pre-programmed phrases to move through “if-then” scenarios.
So for example, consider a chatbot for an internet service provider. In a traditional chatbot experience, the bot may first ask the customer:
“Do you need help with:
1. Service or repair?
2. Sales or billing?
3. Changing your address or account information?
4. Something else?”
From there, the customer may be asked a few more questions before entering his or her contact info and address, all following the pre-programmed structure.
By comparison, an NLP chatbot works under a much more flexible format. The chatbot’s first question might be:
“What can I do for you today?”
If the customer responds, “Internet isn’t working at 11808 Miracle Hills Dr,” the bot can immediately move the customer into the appropriate customer service channel. An NLP chatbot may not understand every input, but the process is often much quicker, easier and more enjoyable, and it makes customers more accepting of self-service, rather than immediately asking for a human agent.
What is Conversational UI?
If NLP describes how a chatbot understands the user, conversational user interface (conversational UI) describes how it responds. This response may come in the form of text or in a graphical representation. For example, an airline customer wanting to book a flight might receive a condensed flight plan with a “Book Now” button at the bottom.
Whatever that response looks like, the goal is to drive the conversation forward with the most natural next step. Conversational UI ensures the bot’s responses are always relevant and make the entire chatbot customer service interaction feel like a single conversation. Building a bot is easy. But building a bot with this level of sophistication requires expertise in design.
Comparison to Traditional Self-Service
Advanced chatbot customer service is where companies like Intrado are moving in the future. Intrado has been building self-service solutions like IVR for more than 30 years. Traditionally, Intrado voice solutions used speech-to-text and grammar designs to identify what the customer wants to accomplish. Then, the application moved the request to the next workflow or through predefined call trees.
But as technology and customer preferences evolve, so have tech companies. In a world with more interactive phone systems, home assistants and voice-based services everywhere you look, natural language recognition has become expected. Users might change their original intention halfway through the conversation. Or they want to provide all the important information up front, rather than walking through a stair-step, predefined experience.
Really, the principles are the same. The user provides information. The application makes a decision based on that information. The difference is the experience. An NLP chatbot accepts, within reason, a range of inputs and then determines if it needs more information to continue.
Traditional self-service treats all customers alike by predefining a single experience. An NLP chatbot from a company like Intrado treats customers like individuals, giving them the flexibility to say and interact with the bot how they choose.
Best Practices for New and Existing Chatbots
If you believe an NLP chatbot (or even a conversational chatbot) fits your business plan, then you need to find a chatbot provider. Depending on your current state with chatbots, here are a few tips to consider when choosing a chatbot partner like Intrado.
1. New bots should be multi-channel
Intrado builds multi-channel bots. That is, they are able to carry on conversations in multiple channels — whether it’s on the phone, over SMS or in a mobile chat — without having to build out complex phone trees. The syntactical expression of intentions may change, but all the decisions and intents remain the same. So the heavy lifting of delivering a great interaction experience can be the same regardless of channel.
2. Expose existing bots to new channels
Already have a chatbot? The Intrado application framework utilizes a company’s existing bot as long as the technology is exposed to external web services. This allows the company to own the bot training and integrate a brand new channel — voice or SMS — once again creating a unified experience regardless of the channel.
3. Apply machine learning to all bots
Intrado is also actively working on utilizing machine learning technology to improve the customer experience based on outside information. When was the last time the user interacted with the company? What was the purpose of the last interaction? What time of the year is it, and will that determine why they are contacting the company?
There are thousands of decisions, intuitions and choices a human contact center agent can make to improve the customer experience based on their knowledge of the user, company, previous interactions with other users and general training. All of this data goes into split-second decision making to best help a user.
Machine learning takes that same approach and expands on it to continually predict the next best course of action for each individual customer.
Better Chatbot Customer Service
If you want to provide better chatbot customer service, an NLP chatbot and conversational UI may be all it takes. And consider working with a company like Intrado, whose combination of bot and machine learning frameworks can provide a highly personalized and satisfying experience for users every time they interact with your company.