20 Dec How Google is paving the way for Conversational AI
Specialists are saying that the next customer service revolution is here, and it comes in the form of artificial intelligence. More commonly known as answerbots and chatbots, conversational AI helps in automating certain processes that would have otherwise required a live agent to handle. But how did we get to this point and who are the major players? And what can we learn from this from a customer service perspective?
First off, let’s look back at where this all started.
A brief history of artificial intelligence
In the 1950s Alan Turing, a British scientist, came out with a hypothesis that someday computer programs would have the ability to interact with human beings. He published his popular article, ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’ which starts with the question “Can machines think?”
Working on the question posed by Turing, another scientist from Germany by the name of Joseph Weizenbaum developed a program he called ELIZA in 1966. This program essentially aimed to simulate conversation with real humans by using open-ended questions with a preset number of follow-up responses. ELIZA would then be known as the first answerbot ever developed, paving the way for the versions that we enjoy now.
You might ask, are Siri and Alexa also examples of conversational AI? Why, yes. Yes they are. They are far more advanced than the usual chatbot that one might encounter in a customer service context, but Siri and Alexa run on the same technology that power conversational AI.
Important Components of Conversational AI
Now that we’ve looked at how it started, let’s go ahead and discuss what powers this branch of artificial intelligence to get a better understanding of how it works.
- Machine Learning — this is a field of artificial intelligence that refers to the features, algorithms, and data sets required to help AI run. The more data entered, the more accurately and efficiently the AI can offer patterned solutions and also help it generate natural responses
- Natural Language Processing — this refers to the process of language analysis used by conversational AI in its interaction with human beings. It works in tandem with machine learning, which then allows AI to process and analyze huge amounts of data. NLP helps AI to accurately process information provided to it.
What Google is doing to help push Conversational AI to the limelight
When the company debuted Google Assistant to the world in 2016, they did so through their messaging software Allo. Later that year when Google unveiled their first generation of Pixel Phones, they came equipped with their version of the virtual assistant. This, so far, is the company’s first public foray into artificial intelligence.
In May 2018, they also introduced Google Duplex. This is a version of the Google Assistant that allowed the AI to have human-life conversations by incorporating speech disfluencies or filler words. The goal with this technology is to allow certain businesses to utilize Duplex in completing simple tasks like appointment setting, reservation confirmations, and verifying a store’s hours of operation. It continues to thrive today; in October 2020 Google opened Duplex for commercial use in eight countries outside of the United States.
Fast forward to today, Google is fully invested in its integration of conversational AI. Through its program Dialogflow, Google is leading the way for conversational AI’s use for modern companies.
DialogFlow and its implications on Conversational AI
In a September 2020 announcement, Google said it is introducing two variations of its popular DialogFlow:
- DialogFlow ES (Standard)
- DialogFlow CX
Both versions offer the following benefits:
DialogFlow is designed to offer quick and interactive call flow integration for contact centers and digital channels. Some other features include advanced AI, omnichannel integration, and intensive management solutions.
What does this mean for the contact center industry?
What with Google at the forefront of Big tech, their dedication and continues perusal of chatbots and conversational AI gives a lot of confidence in this aspect of the industry. If Google thinks this is the way forward, the rest of the world are likely to follow suit.
But what does it mean for us in the industry? Well, let’s put it this way: chatbots have been known to improve employee productivity and efficiency.
According to this Forbes article, “Enterprises are already seeing the benefit in implementing conversational AI into their outward-facing customer service activities. Now, many of those same companies are looking to expand its use throughout the organization, integrating it with other productivity-driven technology. It’s not about reducing headcount; it’s about achieving greater profit by empowering employees to do more.”
Furthermore, with chatbots “there is often hesitance by employees who view digital assistants as competition for their job. Newspaper headlines might shout that AI will destroy jobs, but I believe the reality is different. It may change the nature of a role, but for the most part, the role will continue to exist.”
Conversational AI is here to stay, and the best we can do is to adopt to the changes that come with the times. Despite the fears of some regarding AI becoming sentient, the benefits that come with incorporating AI into our customer service operations cannot be denied.