AI for the Enterprise

cn i TLK 2 u? How to capitalize on emerging conversation trends

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A recently released statistic has captured the attention (and raised the eyebrows) of quite a few business leaders. According to BusinessInsider, messaging apps have surpassed social networks in monthly active users.

If you just said “Whoa!” you’re not alone. While social networks may be ubiquitous, messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and productivity platforms like Slack have quickly become the communication mediums of choice for a new generation of consumers who grew up with instant messaging, textspeak, and the ease of anytime/anywhere direct communication.

The dramatic and rapid rise of these channels presents a new opportunity for businesses (and developers looking to distinguish themselves on the job). So-called “conversational commerce” is poised to go from buzzy catchphrase to core competency in the speed it takes your phone’s digital assistant to receive your command and respond with an appropriate action.

That’s right, the best new way to enhance customer experience and improve customer engagement may have nothing at all to do with a call center or customer service software. Instead, a new customer service experience paradigm is coming: Transacting with customers directly, in their natural language, via their digital medium of choice.

And the only way to do that effectively, at scale, is with bots.

Chat bots, as they are also known, use an automated request-response (“bi-directional”) model to mimic the way humans interact in conversation. Developers can build a chat bot to reflect the personality of the brand while still delivering superior online customer service. The ultimate goal is to create an experience that’s so seamless, consumers may not even realize they are talking to a chat bot.

Considering internet bots to help you capitalize on emerging opportunities, while also improving customer service? Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure it understands your customer. Individuals often use different phrases to refer to the same thing. For example, “I can’t log in,” “My info doesn’t work,” and “No account access,” are all ways of saying, “Reset my password.” Choose a system that doesn’t require a tedious mapping of every possible phrase to a complementary action.
  • Deliver a consistent experience over each platform. When thinking about how to create a chat bot, make sure the tool you choose works effectively across multiple platforms. Then use a build-once/deploy-everywhere model to ensure that nothing gets “lost in translation.”
  • Involve those on the frontlines of customer experience in the process. Chat bots have content and technical aspects that must work hand in hand. That’s why it makes sense for business users – such as marketers and customer experience managers – to collaborate with developers to build a chat bot that delivers an engaging and commercially successful experience.

Intrigued? Want a chatbot API that can do all the above? If you have 10 minutes to spare, you can even build a bot. Check out the new Watson Conversation service, now available on IBM Bluemix, which lets you build a customized Watson chatbot fast. (You can even enter your Watson bot in the Watson Developer Conference competition for a chance to win prizes!)

Build your own chat bot or virtual agent

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