What is Conversational AI?
by Melanie Cowie

Conversational AI can be a great asset. These days, 64% of people say they’d rather message a business than telephone it. Since 2016, when Facebook opened Messenger for chatbots, chatbots have been widely adopted by brands. Everybody is now talking about chatbots and their value to businesses. But, what exactly are chatbots, and why have they become so important?

According to Hootsuite, every month over 1 billion messages are exchanged between people and businesses on Facebook Messenger alone. With all those inquiries and only so many people to tend to them, a chatbot or virtual assistant can be a lifesaver. Conversational AI technology can increase your team’s efficiency and allow more customers to receive the help they need faster.

The term Conversational AI (artificial intelligence) refers to virtual assistants or chatbots, that can “talk” to people (e.g., answer questions). Brands use chatbots to diversify their customer-engagement strategy. With chatbots, businesses engage website visitors proactively and, eventually, sell more products.

Conversational AI tools function thanks to processes such as machine learning, automated responses, and natural language processing. Conversational AI applications are often used in customer service. They can be found on websites, online stores, and social media channels. AI technology can effectively speed up and streamline answering and routing customer inquiries.

Conversational AI primarily works thanks to two functions. The first is machine learning. To put it simply, machine learning means that the technology “learns” and improves the more it’s used. It collects information from its own interactions. It then uses that information to improve on itself as time goes by.

The second is called natural language processing, or NLP for short. This is the process through which artificial intelligence understands language. Once it learns to recognize words and phrases, it can move on to natural language generation. This is the process through which it converses with your customers.

Natural language generation basically means that the AI simulates conversation. For example, if a customer messages you on social media, asking for information on when an order will ship, the AI chatbot will know how to respond. It will do so based on prior experience answering similar questions and because it understands which phrases tend to work best in response to shipping questions.

The theory may sound grueling, but conversational AI chatbots make for a very smooth customer experience. When done correctly, conversational AI streamlines operations by automating 80% or more of all customer support inquiries, empowers marketing by providing new ways to generate leads, and increases sales.



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