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Chatbots – How artificial intelligence creates digital joy

April 30, 2018

An interview with Viswas Parameshiah
Director of Information Technology, RRD Global Outsourcing


Chatbots are the latest artificial intelligence (AI) topic trending in the business community. More dynamic than simple search boxes, chatbots create highly engaging customer service experiences for site visitors that improve search results. To learn more about this in-demand technology, we meet with RRD Global Outsourcing’s Director of Information Technology, Viswas Parameshiah. Drawing from RRD’s background in chatbot development and deployment, Viswas provides an overview on the benefits of AI and how companies are using it to create success stories.

For people new to this topic can you provide a summary on the opportunity for chatbots?

Generally, a visitor browsing a web site today is at the mercy of a page’s informational structure and search capability. Besides the search window, a web page sits passively like a piece of paper.

Chatbots re-write this scenario. With a chatbot, the webpage dynamically interacts with a site visitor and actively guides them to the right information. A well-designed chatbot creates a dialogue with a visitor that enables it to identify and render information with precision that exceeds the functionality of a passive search window.

Today’s chatbot technology is the first step in a monumental transformation in the way web-based content is found and delivered.

How are chatbots expected to impact the customer service experience?

A good chatbot prompts “joy”—or alternatively put, customer satisfaction, because it provides navigational flexibility. Specifically, it alleviates the need for a site visitor to adhere to the rigid informational structure of a web page.

A business typically takes great effort to ensure its products and services are adequately represented on its website. However, each unique client visiting the website is interested in only a very small portion of the site’s total content. As a result, the more extensive and developed a website or web page, the more confusing and overwhelming it can be for a site visitor.

Chatbots reverse this dynamic by first assessing a visitor’s unique informational needs and then serving up a highly targeted response. For comparison, it’s like the difference between shopping at a big box store in the mall without and then with a personal shopping assistant.

How is a chatbot different than a pop-up search window?

They are very different. A search window simply checks for the presence of a word or words across a web page’s content. A chatbot also performs a simple search, but then it communicates directly to the client for real time feedback. If the client is not satisfied with the search response, the chatbot will execute another search while simultaneously collecting information regarding the visitor’s subsequent behavior.

Over time the chatbot identifies patterns in the search query behavior that produce the most positive visitor responses It’s an iterative process—the chatbot can also develop follow-up questions as needed to increase the success rate of each individual query.

A search window is a simple word or phrase validation across an index. A chatbot is a learning mechanism, dynamic and engaging – it is real artificial intelligence technology.

What are important things to keep in mind when starting a chatbot project?

Developing a chatbot is not just an IT-focused project. IT has a role, but a good chatbot is also a sales and marketing tool. Given this, the logic of the chatbot needs to be heavily informed by sales and marketing. For optimal performance and successful deployment, a chatbot must be developed based on solid intelligence about its target clients’ needs and preferences.

A chatbot can eventually overcome inadequate launch information through self-learning efforts, but that learning would likely come at the expense of a large number of disappointed clients. In the end, it’s better to develop it correctly during the planning phases because time is money.

Where are companies deploying chatbots today?

Today many companies are installing chatbots on business-to-consumer (B2C) retail web pages to resolve client queries regarding product information. In terms of other uses, companies are leveraging chatbots for a variety of internal corporate communication and employee engagement efforts—on internal web pages that provide HR, health plan, or other employee and operations related data.

Let’s set this scenario—imagine an employee who has a question about an obscure company policy concerning extended leave for professional studies. The relevant policy exists somewhere on the company’s intranet but finding it could be a real journey for the end-user, never mind frustrating. With a chatbot utilizing the informational trail left behind by past queries, hard to identify questions can be answered with far greater ease and quickness. In the end, the employee who was searching is happy because their search need was meet in a timely manner, without a lot of search “pain”.

What changes do you expect to see in the future?

Today’s chatbots are just a hint of what will be coming down the road. As people interact with chatbots and realize the fun and ease of working with them relative to a passive web page, chatbots will become ubiquitous. Eventually, the web will evolve into an “active agent” that dynamically speaks with us for virtually every interaction. This future state of the web will be in stark contrast to the way it’s designed today, primarily a passive index of information.

For more information

Are you interested in designing chat bots for your B2C, B2B, internal communications or other interactive marketing projects? RRD Global Outsourcing Solutions has extensive experience leveraging artificial intelligence and other advanced technology to built chatbots of varying capabilities. Please complete this form if you have additional questions about the technology or would like to discuss an upcoming project need. We’d very much like to be of assistance.

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