A little more conversation

Posted on: June 20, 2018 by Guillaume Lefebvre

In China today, when consumers want to engage with a brand, a retailer or a bank, they don’t go to the company website or even to the app. They start by looking for its presence on WeChat, where they use chatbots to find information, make an enquiry and even to order and pay for goods and services.

For some 900 million people, that means that their main experience of a brand is based on a chatbot on a social network. While we don’t know if the Chinese model will be replicated exactly in Europe and the West, it is very clear that chatbots and conversational experience are already moving onto the frontline of user experience. -Billion of mobile consumers, especially in the younger generation, have never even written an email and rely instead on chatbots, instant messaging services and voice interaction. On WeChat, 83% of users now use chatbots to buy online.

In that context, for all companies it should be a priority to design chatbot services that make the user experience (UX) satisfying, simple and rewarding.

Maintaining the focus on content

Content represents the foundations for UX in the world of chatbots. In any online conversation, people want the right content at the right moment, and as fast as possible. Consumers want brands to know who they are and understand what they are looking for, giving them the right information and suggestions in the minimum time. By providing answers based on a user’s location and other contextual data, chatbots can transform customer service.

The ATAWAD acronym sums up the challenge nicely: Any Time, AnyWhere, Any Device. We first spoke about ATAWAD in connection with Web 2.0 revolution. With the new generation of chatbots powered by Artificial Intelligence, the concept is enjoying a second life. Whether a customer is at home, in the street or in their car, they want the right answer at the right time, whether the device they are using is a smartphone, a speaker or a PC.

Thanks to the latest developments in technology, ranging from sentiment analysis to Natural Language Processing, Conversation Management and assisted machine learning, ATAWAD is now a reality for today’s chatbots and voicebots. These technologies can create simple conversational user interfaces, giving chatbots the potential to take customer relations to a whole new level and reinvent online services.

Get smart

Any sector which involves a large amount of customer interaction can transform the experience of their users and invent new services thanks to chatbots.

In the food and drink sector, consumers are already using chatbots to check opening times, order food, buy cinema tickets or book tables. Banks are exploring the technology to give their customers a new online experience, making it easier for them to access account information, find details on new financial products, or make an appointment with an advisor.

In the healthcare sector, connected devices which measure and analyze data from patients could be used for conversations between patients and healthcare providers. The device would be able to help patients follow their prescribed course of treatment.

Thanks to the power of the Chat and conversational User Interface, companies can improve the guidance of their customers, for example simplifying the customer enrollment experience or providing better support for new customers of mobile wallets. Chatbots also help to automate Customer Relationship Management, improving customer service not only in B2C but also in B2B: whatever the business, chatbots can deliver a simplified and enhanced real-time user experience.

The future is voice

As chatbots move into everyday devices such as televisions and other household items, voice will become the new standard of interaction for customer interactions.

Nothing is more natural than voice, the first form of communications that humans learn. Just as in the past companies learned to move to a Mobile First approach, so in the chatbot domain Voice First may soon become the standard. With voice, people can ask questions simply and quickly, and generate new forms of interaction, new services and a whole new type of user experience.

In cars, voice is already becoming the natural form of interaction. At Worldline, we working to create new voice experiences including searching for a gas station and making a seamless payment with a mobile wallet app.

Of course, the imminent proliferation of voice is not without controversy. The AI-powered Google Assistant is able, in some situations, to mimic a human being so well that most customers may not realize they are talking to a machine, which raises many ethical questions.

However, we are still a long way from the near omniscience of Jarvis in the Iron Man franchise. The current aim of chatbots and voicebots is not to remove human beings from the conversation altogether but to improve the quality of the human interaction. For example, they are often used to prequalify customers before putting them in touch with the right human expert. Chatbots represent an additional, complementary channel for interaction, not a complete substitute for more traditional methods.

The incredible technology making this experience possible may be completely invisible for end users. But for the companies and brands, chatbot technology is delivering whole new possibilities for efficiency and for customer engagement. With the right content and the right context, chatbots and voicebots can transform the user experience forever.

Chatbots and AI: 2018 theme of our international student competition “Atos IT Challenge”

Artificial Intelligence is a game changing technology but some are also saying it could be a huge threat – with calls for regulation to protect humanity against AI running out of control.

We believe it is an important area for students to explore as one thing is certain: if you master the chatbot, you master the world!

More about the Atos IT Challenge competition

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About Guillaume Lefebvre
R&D Manager, Worldline
Guillaume Lefebvre is currently Head of R&D User eXperience Department in Worldline. He has 17+ years of experience in innovation and Research & Development. An expert in user interface technologies, he investigates all kinds of new customers experiences to develop new online services for Worldline customers. Guillaume has worked on innovative concepts around new web technologies, Social Networks, chat bots & conversational agents, connected TV, Cross Channel & mobile uses, and new digital journeys thanks to mobile, tablet, camera, wearable device, digital signage, physical web, and Internet of Things technologies.

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