The future of virtual assistants, how will chatbots evolve over the next few years?

Chatbots are a helpful bunch, and they are here to stay. For consumers they are available twenty-four seven, answer questions straight away and have all kinds of relevant information at hand. On the business side they save time, money and increase customer satisfaction. But how will chatbots evolve over the next few years? To find out, we decided to ask one of our android friends.

So, chatbot, how do you see the future for yourself?

I didn’t quite get that. Could you please be a bit more specific?

I’m sorry. The scope of that question was a bit off-balance…

Ah yes, I understand now. Good that you mention scope. I think that in the future this is something that will become much more important indeed.

Let me explain: people come to me with hundreds or even thousands of different questions. And many of those questions fall into different categories or are about different subjects. So, the more people, companies and departments will utilise chatbots, the more difficult it will become to create a one-size-fits-all virtual assistant that can correctly answer all these different questions.

Instead, we will move to what I call a ‘masterbot’ and ‘subbot’ structure where there are different chatbots working behind the scenes for different departments or on different subjects. This way it is possible to tailor each chatbot so that it can answer more - and more specific - questions. The look and feel for the end user will always be the same though, as he or she only deals with the masterbot.

Do you have an example?

VIQTOR DAVIS recently implemented such a virtual assistant structure at a large international bank. In this case, for each different department – HR, finance, legal and so on – a different chatbot was created. This reduced the scope of questions that each chatbot received, which led to the virtual assistant being able to answer more relevant questions for each person than it would have otherwise been able to, increasing efficiency and satisfaction.

We are hearing a lot about ‘voice’ being the next big thing.

Voice will indeed continue to grow over the next few years, but it is important to consider when it is a good medium to convey information.

For a simple request voice will work fine. You can ask a chatbot how many annual leave you have left and the answer of ‘thirteen days’ would be short and simple to understand. However, the more difficult the answer to a question, the harder it becomes to convey this via voice. When a reply consists of six sentences of complex information you must ask yourself whether it is easier to hear the answer or whether it is better that the user can closely read and reread it in a text-based form. Alternatively, you can still use voice to answer this question but for example send a text-based summary afterwards.

How do you feel about those out-of-the-box virtual assistants which are being brought to market by major tech companies?

They can work fine if you want to build a basic chatbot for a small website or a small business. With a bit of tweaking you can set them up in such a way that they can answer some of the most common questions you receive.

Regarding bigger companies or projects, they will still need a company like VIQTOR DAVIS to get on board if they want to set up a meaningful virtual assistant. Building a comprehensive chatbot is a complex process and VIQTOR DAVIS has the experience and the know-how to deal with any challenge and avoid common pitfalls. Like failing to optimise the collection and utilisation of chat data.

The collection and utilisation of chat data?

Ah, yes. Many businesses don’t realise that they will receive a treasure trove of information once their chatbot goes live, and consequently they don’t know how to make the most of this data.

I thought the project would be nearly finished once the chatbot is launched.

No, the process that follows after going live is just as important - or maybe even more important - than the process of getting a virtual assistant up and running.

After launch, all the interactions with a chatbot could help a business gain valuable insights into many different topics and enable a company to become more efficient. Is there a significant number of people asking the same question? Put the answer higher on the FAQ page of your website. People don’t seem to understand a certain part of an application process? Describe it in more detail on the application letter.

Regarding the chatbot itself, it will also continue to learn to answer more and more questions once it’s up and running.

You need to be able to guide all these processes. Depending on the number of questions a chatbot receives every day, a business will need to automate the analysis of all this information to take full advantage of it. This is a complex job, but definitely something VIQTOR DAVIS could assist with.

Any final thoughts?

Chatbots will become multi-lingual. And another aspect which will become increasingly important is personalisation. This will reduce the number of entries an end user will have to make before he receives the answer he’s looking for.

Say you are working for a certain department within an organisation and you’ve lost your company ID card. In the near future, the chatbot will automatically recognise that it is you asking the question instead of asking you to enter your personal company number. Subsequently, the answer provided by the chatbot will also not be generic anymore, but tailored to you; instead of giving you a list of desks where you can pick up a new ID card but where you still have to figure out which one applies to your department, the virtual assistant will tell you exactly where to go.

Would you like to know how VIQTOR DAVIS could help you with regards to virtual assistants, feel free to contact us.

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