What do you think a chatbot does

Communication and Artificial Intelligence - The Use of Chatbots

In this interview, Xaver Lehmann, founder and CEO of e-bot7, talks to our partner ISS Software - A Sopra Steria Company about artificial intelligence in customer communication.

Communication with customers and other stakeholders has become much more diverse in recent years. What began with websites and e-mail has been continued in social media such as Facebook, Instagram and messengers such as WhatsApp. One instrument that can facilitate the uniformity of communication and increase efficiency with the variety of channels is the use of chatbots. They use artificial intelligence to transport content in a way that is appropriate to the target group. Natural Language Processing (NLP) is the name of the technology behind it.

Hello Xaver, thank you very much for being available for an interview during these unusual times. We can imagine that right now a particularly large number of people want to be provided with a wide variety of information. What are your experiences? Do you also feel an influence on the need for information?

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, we have not only noticed that our team wants clear communication due to the excess of information, but also that existing customers have to cope with an overload of their customer service due to increasing inquiries about COVID-19 (but also about other topics) . Bots and artificial intelligence are ideal for balancing and intercepting the volume of inquiries at peak times.

That is why we decided to build a chatbot that helps companies, employees, customers and everyone affected by the situation to quickly find all relevant information on the topic. We use official sources such as the WHO, the CDC and the Robert Koch Institute and update the information regularly.

The Corona chatbot from e-bot7.

As a result of digitization, a lot of information is generally relatively easily available. Doesn't that also pose particular challenges for companies to communicate with their customers? I am also thinking of questions about how to prepare information in the most user-friendly way possible. How do you ensure that the information requirements in your bots are designed in such a way that the users actually see the bot as support?

Customer expectations have changed over time. With the emergence of new platforms, the way consumers look for services and interact with brands is changing. This development affects the functionality and maintenance of traditional customer service via email or telephone. Customers now expect a round-the-clock service offering on all channels with high speed, reliability and accuracy at the same time. We can support all of these things with artificial intelligence and our omnichannel platform.

Let's change the point of view. Where do you see the main advantages of using bots from a company perspective? What can be done better with this than with a section on the website?

The earlier you integrate innovative technologies such as AI, the better and faster you can learn from the technology in order to use it optimally for the needs of customers. We are certainly still at the beginning of technology. However, it is also certain that the technology will get better every day and will be able to answer more and more inquiries individually. So it's just a matter of time. In this way, companies can already achieve a competitive advantage today by offering customer service that improves relationships with customers while focusing on cost efficiency and scaling.

How do you rate the possibility of addressing a broad audience through this? How are your experiences - do those looking for information get along with the technology?

Over the past few years, messaging platforms such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger have overtaken the number of users of social networks. Text-based communication and messaging became the preferred method of communication, as the majority of the Millennium generation (18–24 years old) and Generation X (35–49 years old) not only own a smartphone but spend an average of 4–6 hours a day on the device . Therefore, companies should enable text-based communication on all devices and platforms.

You developed the Coronabot in the context of the Corona crisis. What did you pay particular attention to and how is it received?

Above all, we made sure that the bot can be integrated into all digital channels of the company within a few minutes and does not represent an additional burden on employees, as the bot uses our Contextual Dialog Editor® to guide customers through predefined workflows. In addition, the bot is available in four languages ​​and companies can adapt the information in the bot to their individual needs.

Crisis situations often arise unprepared and are dynamic, complex, confusing. Against this background, how quickly is such a bot ready for use and what do you have to consider? Isn't training a chatbot time-consuming?

Our AI essentially consists of two components: a general language component and a customer-specific component. In a certain way, customers get a "pre-trained" system that can distinguish between the importance of individual words and, for example, recognize or understand spelling errors. Our AI system is also fed in with the customer's own data, e.g. FAQs, and can therefore take this knowledge into account when choosing the answer. This means that the bot can automatically answer the frequently asked questions right from the start. In addition, he is constantly trained during operation so that complex and individual inquiries can also be answered automatically.

In the event of a crisis situation, our Contextual Dialog Editor® is also a good choice to easily automate complex customer service processes without having to write a line of code. Our technology is pre-trained and can be used as a plug-and-play solution without the need for technical resources on the customer side. This type of integration only takes a few minutes.

How do you think experiences from the crisis will influence the development and use of chatbots in the future?

Without a doubt, the corona crisis will drive some developments even faster that have already taken place before. I'm thinking of topics such as online education, home office, but also of increasing efficiency and digitization issues. I think companies are more aware than ever that there is no way around digital and scalable technologies and that precisely such technologies can even create a competitive advantage and even ensure survival in a difficult time like this.

The interview originally appeared on ISS Innovate's Space Lab.