Chatbot Best Practices in Contact Centers

by Jim Rembach

Chatbot Best Practices in Contact Centers


“Best practices for Visual IVR, Mobile On-Demand, and Chat Bots are important for contact centers to survive.  Dr. Zhang explains the evolution of new technology and how to use it most effectively.” -Sally Cooper, Marketing Operations Manager, Zappix, Inc. 

The rate of change in contact centers is accelerating. Fueled by the worldwide proliferation of mobile devices, more interactions are pointed to your contact center than ever before. To survive, you must learn about chatbot best practices in contact centers NOW.

“You must learn about chatbot best practices in contact centers NOW.”

Dr. Yi Zhang, world renowned thought leader on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and professor at the University of California at Santa Cruz has worked with organizations like Alibaba, HP, Toyota, Ex Libris, and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center on AI. 

Learn Chatbot Best Practices in Contact Centers 

In an interview with Dr. Zhang, she explains the difference between the various generations of chatbot technology found in contact centers, websites, or in an APP experience.

Different Perspectives on Chatbots    

As a professor and instructor in the field, she tries to help people organize their thoughts on chatbots and AI from two perspectives.

Build your own contact center chatbots

One perspective is that you can look at the technologies behind AI chatbots. There are in general three generations of technologies used today.

  • 1st Generation: Based on simple written rules. If the customer says this, the chatbot replies with this.
  • 2nd Generation: Based on supervised machine learning. You need to label conversation data and try to train a model to learn how to talk with the customer. You need a lot of labeled data.
  • 3rd Generation: Based on adaptive unsupervised learning. The AI chatbot can learn from unlabeled data. This generation generally combines the benefit of previous generations. It can use rules and labeled data and the ability to learn from many unlabeled data to handle more complex conversations.

The second perspective is to look at the technology landscape by reviewing use cases that can be handled.

  • 1st level : Can handle question and answer. More like FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions).
  • 2nd level : Can handle multi-round conversations.
  • 3rd level : Can handle a conversation in a flexible way. It can handle multiple tasks (mixed task) and return to an originating task. More advanced Generation 3 chatbots handle mixed initiatives, or seemly unrelated requests.

With a Generation 3 chatbot you can automatically combine use cases, a set of skills and various knowledge dynamically based on conversation context and customer profile to solve complex customer problems, even including problems traditionally requiring cross departmental collaboration. It is able to provide a customer experience that does not require as much customer effort and gets problems solved faster. And we all know customers want speed. Speed has become a primary driver for higher customer experience scores.

“There three generations of chatbot technologies in contact centers today.”

Accelerate Your Business Outcomes

“DO MORE” with less. To actually do more and not be stuck with more to do, it’s more likely than not, that you need advanced capabilities with your chatbots. And no, this doesn’t always relate to the cost to implement.

They key is to determine your desired business outcomes. But this is a lot harder than it appears. In the contact center industry, you’ve probably been operating with an internal mindset instead of a customer experience mindset.

To DO MORE with less you need advanced chatbot capabilities. Accelerate the Customer Journey

When you think about the customer journey in contact centers, you think about the touchpoints or interaction points as they currently exist, instead of what they could become. That’s not your fault, everyone has to overcome this framing effect. 

You probably are on the constant lookout for controlling costs instead of generating revenue.

With 3rd Generation AI chatbots you can accelerate the customer journey. You should think about your desired business outcome being to generate revenue. You should expand your thinking beyond reducing the cost to support customers or assist agents.

YOUR cost center mindset must change first, before you can change your organization’s mindset about you.

Start Quick

Start with the quick wins and know that you need to be able to scale. 1st Generation chabots will hit the wall quickly and easily fail. You need to realize that your customers will be experiencing 2nd and 3rd generation chatbots in the marketplace.  

If you’re using 1st generation chatbots and your competition uses is more advanced, are you going to be at risk of losing those customers? You bet you are.

“Are your 1st Generation contact center chatbots putting you at competitive risk?”

Don’t Fail Fast

You know that stopping and starting will not accelerate your business outcomes. You have experienced many times over how difficult it is to switch technologies. Avoid the mistake of implementing a chatbot that does not have the ability to help you accelerate your desired business outcomes.

The marketplace is moving too fast. It’s okay to fail fast and learn from it, so that you can succeed. But it’s not okay to fail fast and give up because of the wrong technologies.

“Avoid implementing chatbots that don’t accelerate your desired business outcome.” 

Learn More on Chatbots in Contact Centers

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