Technology enhancements in Human-Computer interaction has allowed users to interact more seamlessly with computers over a period of time. From setting up medical appointments to online check-in for flights, AI chatbots that imitate human conversations have gained prominence recently. We’ve all used a chatbot like Alexa or Siri to simplify our lives and workload, but do we know how they actually work?
What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a type of software that can simulate a conversation with a real human user. The medium used for this exchange is through applications, websites, or telephone conversations. Technically, a chatbot is a piece of software that conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods simulating how a human would behave as a conversational partner
Chatbots learn from human interactions and grow over time. Broadly speaking, there are two types of bots; one that works on pre-defined rules and the other that can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions with minimal human intervention. Rule-based chatbots use predefined responses from a database. The bot pulls information from a database using keywords and executes specific commands associated with those keywords. Smart machine-based chatbots, on the other hand, use artificial intelligence and cognitive computing to synthesize data from various information sources while weighing context and conflicting evidence to suggest the best possible response.
So, why are chatbots so popular?
Artificial intelligence has a wide range of applications for several fields. Chatbots are one of the most popular examples of artificial intelligence. They are an important asset for many businesses, as they assist in customer support among other things. According to a 2011 study by Gartner, by 2020 around 85% of our interactions will be handled by chatbots rather than humans. Chatbots aren’t just used for answering questions, but they also play a vital role in collecting information, creating databases, etc.
Chatbots help with:
- Customer service’s first priority is its customers. Their experience determines the success or failure of a company. When online shopping is considered, it has been observed that most shoppers need some kind of support system in place. They need help at each step of the purchasing process, which is where chatbots come in to make this process smooth and quick.
- Customer information informs their customer service strategies based on the data that they collect about their consumers. Chatbots take information from the reviews and feedback and use that information to help determine how the company can make its product better.
- Lesser workforce – The work done by one chatbot is better than getting it done by a large number of employees. Companies can cut down on costs by using chatbots that can handle a variety of customer interactions, thus making the work simpler and more efficient as the amount of human error is reduced.
- Avoids redundancy – Tasks can be avoided within company call centers and the employees, that is, they will help in ensuring that the employees spend their time on important tasks rather than repetitive ones.
Chatbots today can answer simple questions using prebuilt responses. If a user says A, the chatbot will respond with B and so on. After this development, however, expectations have increased. We are now looking for more advanced chatbots that can perform several tasks.
Conversational AI chatbots can be divided into a number of categories based on their level of maturity:
Level 1: This is the basic level where the chatbot can answer questions with pre-built responses. It is capable of sending notifications and reminders.
Level 2: At this level, the chatbot can answer questions and also lightly improvise during a follow-up.
Level 3: The assistant is now capable of engaging in a conversation with the user where it can offer more than just the prebuilt answers. It gets an idea of the context and can help you make decisions with ease.
Level 4: Now, the conversational chatbot knows you better. It knows your preferences and can make recommendations based on them.
Level 5 and beyond: Now the assistant is capable of monitoring several assistants to perform certain tasks. They can do efficient promotions, help in specific targeting of certain groups based on trends and feedback.
So, what goes on behind building a chatbot?
Developing a conversational chatbot is a long process, one that requires innovation at every step. The first and the most important decision to be made is how the bot will process the inputs and produce the reply. Most systems today used rule-based or retrieval-based methods. Other areas of research are grounded learning and interactive learning.
The chatbots are trained using a set of rules that automatically convert the input into a predefined output or action. It is a simple system, but highly dependent on keywords.
With this system, the bot receiving the input locates the best response from a database and displays it. It requires a high level of data pre-processing and is difficult to personalize and scale.
As the demand for chatbots increases, more innovation is being demanded. The limitations of the above-mentioned systems are overcome by this one. Here, the bot is trained using a large amount of chatbot training data. Generative systems are trained end-to-end instead of step-by-step and the system remains scalable in the long run.
All advanced chatbots, like Alexa, have been built with ensemble methods that are a mixture of all the three approaches. They use different approaches for different activities, but these methods still need a lot of work.
- Grounded learning
Most human knowledge isn’t in the form of structured datasets and is instead presented in the form of text and images. Grounded learning involves knowledge that is based on real-world conversations.
For a chatbot to function as per the requirements, it is important to provide it with high-quality chatbot training data. What exactly is AI training data?
A chatbot converts raw data into a conversation. This raw data is unstructured. For example, consider a customer service chatbot. The chatbot needs to have a rough basis of what questions people might ask as well as the answers to those questions. For this, it retrieves data from emails, databases, or transcripts. This is the training data.
The Importance of High-Quality Chatbot Training Data
Most of the chatbots today don’t work properly because they either have no training or use very little data. The implementation of machine-learning technology to train the bot is what differentiates a good chatbot from the rest.
Training is an on-going process that consists of five stages:
- Warm-up training
The client data is used to start the chatbot. This is the first and most important step.
- Real-time training
The incoming conversations are tracked and tell the bot what people are asking or saying, instead of working purely based on assumptions.
- Sentiment training
The way people are talking to the bot is used to train language and functions. For example, an angry user is dealt with differently as compared to a happy user.
- Effectiveness training
In this method, the result of the conversations is analyzed and the bot is trained accordingly to reach more people faster.
These are just a few ways on how high-quality chatbot training data can enable a conversational bot to produce optimal results. After this, the chatbot is checked for improvement at every stage.
Chatbots make interactions between people and organizations simpler, enhancing customer service, and they also allow companies to improve their customer experience and overall efficiency. Human intervention is vital to building, training, and optimizing the chatbot system.