Designing conversational platform
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Introduction: issues to consider when building conversational paltform
“The market for conversational platforms is both crowded and fragmented, with a high pace of innovation. This combination makes it confusing and unpredictable for application leaders” —Gartner.
The blossoming demand for conversational platforms,whichunitenumerous chatbots and enterprise assistants,keepmoving forward. Application leaders need to consider the dynamics and multifunctionalityin this rapidly changing environment forsucceedingclients’ support.
Conversational platforms areused to buildconversational user interfaces, chatbots and virtual assistants for a wide rowof important use cases. Theygo far beyond messaging platforms, social media, SMS, and website chats.
Conversational platformsdefine intent,and theirflexible APIs connect third parties byextendingthe platform with plenty of attractivecustomizationand additions.
To make a long story short, conversational platformis a tireless engine of bots and AI systems.
But thelong story sounds more like human, right?A ridiculously short time ago, prompt chatbots and resourceful virtual assistants gaineda planetaryinterest. The excellent chattingor even talkingwith a charming human-like voice, at the same time providing a rich set ofservices —no doubts, conversational platforms didfuel astrongwave of sensational innovations.
Under the hoot of a conversational platform,you’llfind the four fields:
• Virtual customer assistance (VCAs) - automatedcall-center-operated chat or even voice-based communication, which commonly includes escalation mechanisms for humans to continue.
• Virtual enterprise assistance (VEAs) - conversational interfaces for employees to help withaccess toenterprise infrastructures.
• Virtual personal assistance (VPAs) - generalist assistants for users on the road tofirst-, second-or third-party services and knowledge, commonly deployedon consumer devices
• Chatbots - narrowly-scopedchat agentsservinga specific task such as scheduling, ordering,or booking. Chatbots are good for any audience.
Maturity levels of bots and AI systems
The opportunitiesforimplementingbots are as wide-rangingas the needs of businesses andcan be differentiatedby maturity.
With the increasing maturity, not only the complexity and added value of botsincreases but also the legal challenges. Data protection must be considered and took into attention becausethe collection of customer data can meet particular obstacles. Companies that scale-up their businesses should remember about it.
Using cookies,for example, is usually unproblematic, even in Europe. On the contraryto that, personal assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, are suspectedby the public for collecting and analyzing too much user’sinformation. Data protectionists are criticizing suchsystems, turningmarketing into a challenge. Therefore, trust in the brand can be shadedand a negative customer review can spoil possible benefitsofenhancement and user engagementbenefits.
The first level is represented by chatbots without access to other information. Thus, several bots ensuresimple contact, pick up the client, but stuck intheir limits, soquickly passthe client to the next touchpoint.
On the second level, context information about the clientsis already used. Interacting with a user, the bot remembers likes or reviewed products and can makesomerecommendationsin particularsituational communication, aimingcustomer retention and virtual empathy
The third level is presented by a bot extractinghistorical context. Usually, it is the first level with real communication between the company and the customer. Bot’s “brain”, an internal database, along withpreviously purchased products storesalso customer’s reviews and issues, which can be beneficially used in catching conversation.
An extensive personalization is achieved with the fourth level. Connected to the company’s CRM system and on-the-go fulfillingitduring customer interaction, virtual assistantssuch as Alexa can pretend humans longer.
Conversational platforms transformation
Due to technological development and customer behavioral trends, many companies discover market triggersand put them into beneficial use.Companies are currently facing challengeson the way toсonversational сommerce. This meansa lot becausethosecompaniesthat slowly implement conversational commerce could lose customers, otherones, on the contrary,may benefit from public attention after integrating bots on the earlystage.
Benefits, costs and risks
Creating conversational platforms, companies should take into attention:
• Benefits: increasing efficiency, reducing customer support costs, 24/7 availability, short response times, fast problem-solving, individual customer approach, increased cross-selling.
• Costs: development, Implementation, maintenance costs, monitoring & measurement expenses.
• Risks: safety, data protection, ambiguous user experience due towrong auto-learning, false reactions, incomplete or wrong answers.
Resources to create and maintain platform
Calculating resources tocreateandmaintain a botis an important issue to consider.
Remember about time.For large projects, the long-term bot supportshould be included,as well asthe time needed to promote the bot, testthe cases where the bot is useless, collectcustomer feedback, and work on updatingthe bot.
Consider the field of implementation, which may becustomer service, sales advice, marketing, support, etc.
Carefully think what automationto apply: autogenerated newsletter, hybrid system, fully automatedchatbot, personalized customer service, etc.
And please remember:
Messaging platforms used by customers
Platforms used by thecustomers are the next issue to observe.
Facebook Messenger is agreatchoice in many European countries plusthe USA because the number of users is remarkably highthere. If the majorcustomers aremillennials (the generation born in 1980–1999), Snapchat may be a lovely option. WhatsApp, Viber,or Line also carriesweightin many countries. For the target audienceis located mostlyin China, WeChat is the most desirableplatform.
Selecting conversational platform provider
Along withGartnerresearch, the larger market of chatbots and virtual assistant offerings may include morethan 1000 vendors worldwide. The following varietyis composed oftheprovidersthat received the most clientinterest in Gartner inquiries.
Selecting the platform,analyze the wide variety, andpickvendors tactically focusing on your key performance indicators (KPIs) and capabilities you need to coverduring the next two years.
Ask provider aboutexit strategy, having “plan B” onswitchingvendors youavoid locking of trained data, chat historyand integrations.
Considerproviders features onanalytics, scalability and orchestration to ensuresimplicity of improving.
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