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The Basic of Business Bots

prakash-mishraIn this special guest feature, Prakash Mishra of NTT DATA, discusses business bots basics, specifically how chatbots are programed to mimic human conversations based on artificial intelligence, natural language processing, technological databases and programmable algorithms. Prakash Mishra leads NTT DATA’s Data Architecture and Management Practice. A solutions-driven, results-oriented, self-motivated leader, Prakash has extensive experience of more than two decades with data architecture, big data analytics leadership in complex environments. Prakash has been involved in developing and leading the implementation of traditional and innovative big data analytics, data science strategies & solutions, data modernization and master data management solutions for small to large organizations.

As businesses transform to meet the preferences of their customers and employees, many are adopting robots (bots) to help streamline and improve interactions to meet evolving digital standards.

Bots are automated, conversational programs created to perform tasks, ranging from fun to functional. At their core, bots are a basic form of artificial intelligence software, designed to enable conversations with humans to answer questions in a quick and simple manner or perform specific tasks to assist humans.

While this technology seems cutting edge, it has actually been around for decades. The bot technology we are most familiar with are interactive voice responses (IVRs) where a prompt asks a user to push tonal phone buttons, say particular words related to a service, or send text messages for customer service. Bots are the next evolution of these traditional methods because they rely on a combination of AI, neurolinguistics, semantic database technology and a rule engine for analysis that determines interaction.

Chatbots are currently the most common form of bot, which are often used on social messenger platforms such as Facebook, Kik and Slack. However, they are also gaining traction within other industries, including retail customer service, news services and personal banking. The most used benefit of chatbots currently is that they allow users to bypass voice communications and cut down on time and complexity of business interactions.

What can Bots do for Business

The following are five applications of business bots:

  • Customer Inquiry – Customers frequently interact with businesses online, often unable to find product or service information on the company website. For instance, a customer could be searching for a retail product online but they have questions on shipping parameters. A chatbot can assist customers by answering questions, and providing additional relevant information such as specialty sales, product dimensions or local store availability. In addition, for customers who are not interested in exploring the website in its entirety, chatbots can also be programmed to answer customer FAQs directly on the homepage.
  • Information Collection – Chatbots can also be leveraged effectively by a company’s human resources department. For example, chatbots can be used to interact with employees and collect information, such as event attendance, lunch orders, supply needs and employee handbook/HR questions. Several companies are also incorporate bots to automate the prospective employee interview processes by gathering contact information and specific interest/qualifications for review of the human hiring representative.
  • Automated Sales – Many retailers and online stores use bots to streamline the sales process. Bots can assist in the various stages of purchasing by offering customers related products or specialty deals that drive incremental revenue. Bots can also collect customer information and display products of interest corresponding to the users’ responses.
  • Social Media Service – Social media enables direct communication with customers, who prefer quick, hassle-free interactions. Chatbots seamlessly integrate with digital communication because responses are delivered from a database of information through ‘text’ interaction, which can be used without employee resources. Multiple social media platforms are currently adopting chatbot technology to help customers and businesses interact on their social channels.
  • Employee Management – Many companies employ internal messaging platforms to communicate and manage projects. Some of these platforms, such as Slack, integrate custom chatbots designed to increase productivity. For example, bots can be programmed to periodically check-in on employees for status updates or monitor activity to ensure efficiency.

While human interaction will never be replaced, bots can help overcome many of the obstacles traditional technologies have created for consumers. The intuitive and quick-response nature of bots make them ideal for businesses adapting to consumers’ evolving digital preferences.

 

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