Chatbots, Virtual Assistants & Conversational AI

Virtual Assistants: Taking Chatbots to Next-Gen and Beyond

Virtual Assistants are propelling the world with astounding levels of automation that drive productivity up and costs down. New advancements of technology are upgrading today’s traditional chatbots to advanced virtual assistants. Chatbots are a manifestation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) via the simulation of conversation with human users. They obey automated rules and use capabilities called natural-language processing (NLP), and machine learning (ML). Working together, these advances allow chatbots to process data and respond to all sorts of commands and requests. 

virtual assistant, chatbots

Task-oriented (declarative) chatbots are the most basic level of chatbot; they serve one purpose and perform one function. Using rules, NLP, and perhaps some ML, they respond in an automated but conversational-sounding way to user inquiries. This type of chatbot is very structured and applies specifically to one function, often support and service functions. One example would be interactive FAQs. Task-oriented chatbots can deal with conventional, common requests, such as business hours — anything that doesn’t call for variables or decision-making. They may use NLP but not in a sophisticated or insightful way. Today, these types of chatbots are practically everywhere. 

AI-Driven Chatbot Upgrade: Virtual Assistant

Data-driven and predictive (conversational) chatbots are also called a Virtual Assistant or Digital Assistant. Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are examples of consumer-oriented, data-driven, predictive chatbots. They are far more advanced, capable, personalized, and sophisticated than the simple task-oriented variety.

A Virtual Assistant is contextually aware, using natural-language understanding (NLU), NLP, and ML to actually acquire new knowledge even as they operate. They can also utilize their predictive intelligence and analytics capabilities to personalize a response based on user profiles or other information made available to them. A Virtual Assistant can even remember a user’s preferences and offer solutions and recommendations, or even guess at the person’s future needs, as well as initiating conversations.

Advanced Virtual Assistants can connect single-purpose chatbots under one umbrella. The Virtual Assistant can pull information from each chatbot and aggregate allow that to answer a question or carry out a task, all the time maintaining appropriate context.

virtual assistant, chatbots

Virtual Assistants and Service Desks: A Happy Alliance

When introduced to service desks for IT and Customer Service, Virtual Assistants deliver the ability to automate repetitive tasks, compress hierarchies, and accelerate decision-making, all the while delivering exceptional user experiences.

As more services are offered to employees and customers through Service Catalogs, the Service Desk has become inundated by queries, complaints, and calls for assistance. The outcome is a significant drain on resources. This situation has resulted in Service Desks becoming burdened with requests, while generally too underfunded to keep pace. The consequences include low employee productivity and high customer dissatisfaction, overworked service technicians, and bloated support costs.

By initiating a whole series of economies and efficiencies, Conversational AI revolutionizes the way the Service Desk functions. It automates repetitive tasks, compresses organizational hierarchies, and accelerates self-service resolutions. Most tellingly, Conversational AI improves employee and customer experience.

Conversational AI Saves the Service Desk from Repetitive Task Monotony

According to Gartner, by 2022, two-thirds of all customer experience projects will make use of IT for various devices, applications, and IT services. The impact on morale shows in drained focus and motivation, turnover, and consequent HR replacement and training costs. Additionally, 37 percent of service leaders are using AI bots and Virtual Customer Assistants.

Conversational AI has the capacity to rapidly resolve those repetitive service requests simply handling the majority of problems from users or customers. This frees service agents for more complex, challenging issues.

Gartner predicts that by 2021, 15% of all customer service interactions globally will be handled completely by AI, an increase of 400% from 2017. But before then — by 2020 — 40% of the bot virtual assistant applications launched in 2018 will have been abandoned as technology adoption converges on fewer apps.”

Now, Conversational AI can guide end-users to self-service by deeply understanding the intent and meaning of a question via Natural Language Understanding (NLU). The Virtual Assistant can retrieve for the users only relevant information even when it is buried in unstructured support web pages or lengthy troubleshooting documents.

Beyond Information Retrieval

Conversational AI also integrates with back-end enterprise systems, including configuration management, application access, service catalogs, identity management, workflow orchestrator, and so forth. That allows the agent to resolve service requests requiring end-to-end execution of cross-system business workflows.

Robotic process automation (RPA) technology allows them to unlock accounts, reset passwords, provision an application, troubleshoot email, or resolve VPN connectivity.

This relief and support make a profound difference to service agents, who respond with increased satisfaction and productivity. Since Virtual Assistants are available 24/7, they don’t increase headcount, but can be addressed elastically by adding more compute power.

These facts have led CIOs to recognize that level-one support automation using Conversational AI is viable, leading to an explosion in interest in the technology. Currently, many large enterprises are quietly deploying such technology globally.

virtual assistant, chatbots

Bountiful Business Benefits

The benefits of auto-resolving service requests (self-service) span reduced support costs, increased employee morale and productivity, customer loyalty and satisfaction, plus lower Mean-Time-to-Resolution (MTTR). Possibilities for career encourage loyalty and lower attrition.

Decision-Making Speed and Agility

A typical service commands 10 hours to resolve! This includes multiple conversations with a Level 1 service agent, potential rerouting to a subject matter Level 2 service agent or even escalating to a Level 3 service agent.

Now, Conversational AI solutions use the abundant history available from existing enterprise knowledge-based systems and interactions to take care of the issue. These resources include chat conversations, emails, voice transcripts, transactions, and other pre-existing enterprise data in the IT Service Desk systems. The system can now learn by itself with minimal—or no—user supervision.

Sophisticated Conversational AI enables learning from structured and unstructured data and subsequent direct, meaningful conversations with the user. The Virtual Assistant can intuit user intent and suggest, recommend, and tailor their responses. Even when Conversational AI agents cannot auto-resolve the issue, they have recorded the entire interaction and can then categorize and route the request to the right agent with an abundance of supportive materials to clarify matters.

Insights Approaching Human Level

Conversational AI continuously learns from additional knowledge and/or live interactions, rapidly adapts to the user persona and the state of their emotions, and adjusts in real-time to minimize the number of needed interactions to close an issue. This learning ability delivers obvious business benefits—24/7 availability, continuous learning, and dynamic adaptation, solving issues economically and efficiently while raising the overall quality of the Service Desk experience.

Exceptional User Experiences Via Omnichannel

Most present-day IT users are accustomed to using their smartphones for reading emails, browsing the internet, checking their schedule, calling a meeting, and chatting live with colleagues. They switch across applications, pause, and resume their conversations along the way. This holds true for IT Service Desks as well.

Today’s users expect to chat with a Service Desk representative across email, web, chat, voice, or messaging. Now, with advanced Conversational AI technology, a user can talk, text, or type a question, and a Conversational AI agent will pop up, embedded directly in the channel the user is active on.

Now, users and Conversational AI agents can engage in a meaningful conversation while chatting on their laptops and resume the conversation on messaging on their mobile phones—with the full state preserved. They can resolve user requests autonomously through omnichannel conversational dialogues while achieving as much as 80 percent self-service resolutions, with 50 seconds MTTR, and increase CSAT/NPS up to 50 percent—potentially cutting up to 90 percent of costs!

Snapshot: How Conversational AI Revolutionizes the Service Desk

  • Delivers personalized, user-relevant conversational experience and conversation context switching
  • Enables omnichannel support (web portal, chat, email, voice, and mobile app)
  • Institutes self-learning Cognitive AI with prebuilt models to understand over 1.1B conversations
  • Integrates and supports enterprise formats  
  • Distributes knowledge enterprise-wide  
  • Seamlessly integrates with ticketing, knowledge, and IAM systems
  • Enhances user engagement

Why Aisera

Aisera delivers an AI Service Management (AISM) solution that leverages advanced Conversational AI & RPA to provide an end-to-end conversational platform. These advanced AI capabilities automate tasks, actions and workflows for ITSM, HR, Facilities, Sales, Customer Service, and Operations. Now businesses can deliver greater self-service resolutions through consumer-like service experience for employees and customers. Digital acceleration and transformation is achieved in seconds with Aisera.

Additional Resources

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