If your website is your online storefront, it’s a no-brainer that you must greet and attend to your customers as they enter your shop. That’s what a chatbot primarily does.
A chatbot online serves as the first “live”, interactive element of your website. It intercepts the customer where they are and tries to help them achieve their objectives from your website quickly and smoothly. Given this, it only makes sense that the chatbot must speak the language of the customer so as to enable a truly engaging conversation.
On the mobile phone, chatbots provide a direct and quick access to customer care, which people can access anytime at their convenience.
Chatbots are already a reality of business globally, though they might be more popular in some parts of the world than others. However, with development in their abilities, they are quickly catching on everywhere.
Power of AI transforms your customer support
Artificial Intelligence (AI) makes a key difference in the functioning of chatbots. First off, when a user types in a query, it can detect the language of the query. It can also try and figure out what the query is about by analyzing the keywords in the query. Then, it retrieves the answer or possible answers from user help documentation. Over time, the solution can recognize the most frequently-asked questions and get better at retrieving more accurate answers.
At least, this is what happens or is visible at the front end. At the back end, the question is translated from the visitor’s language to English, or whichever language the help documentation happens to be in. Probable answers to the query are looked up. They then need to be translated into the language of the visitor and presented to them. This translation at the back end is carried out via machine translation (MT).
When designing a bot, it is critical that you work closely with an experienced language services provider (LSP) because its efficiency hugely depends on the expertise of the linguists who train the MT engines. A query may be worded in many different ways. A translator should be able to map the different synonyms or similar phrases to the right keyword, so that they bot is able to dig up appropriate responses.
Pros and cons of multilingual chatbots
Chatbots are your way of proactively starting the conversation with a potential customer. They have many strengths and some challenges.
1. Addressing the visitor in their language: Imagine people walking into your brick-and-mortar store. They’d clearly like to be talked to in their language. The same goes for online visitors. A chatbot can detect the user’s language in multiple ways: a) by simply asking the visitor to choose from the available language options; b) by determining the user’s location and their IP address; or c) by detecting the user’s browser preferences.
2. Enhancing the customer experience (CX). HelpScout found that more than half of the customers didn’t make their purchase decision based on price alone – it was also CX. Well-designed, multi-language chatbots put the customer at ease and help them quickly find what they want, thus scoring many CX points.
3. Aiding conversion. Chatbots not only improve CX, but give a personal touch to customer service. All of this contributes to increasing the conversion rates.
4. Cutting costs. A single chatbot can save you tons of money that would otherwise be spent on armies of customer service representatives to handle queries in different languages. Of course, chatbots will not entirely replace human touchpoints, nor are they meant to, but they will definitely reduce the number of customer service representatives that you’d otherwise need. They can even make the work of the customer service representatives easier and less mechanical, by filtering out the more basic and routine queries and bringing only the more complex queries to them.
Multilingual chatbots also help to cut costs on translation. Earlier, a company had to translate huge volumes of user assistance information in different languages in order to make them available to customers in different locales. With changes in products or their features, the user help would need to be updated and then re-translated.
With AI-powered bots, however, companies translate only the information the customer is looking for. And this, too, is done on the fly with trained MT engines.
5. Getting insights. Careful analysis of the queries a chatbot gets can tell a lot about the issues customers face or how they view a particular product or feature. You can use this information to better the product, or improve customer service or any other area where customers seem to be getting stuck.
There are not too many downsides of using a chatbot, provided it has been designed well. Do take care that the responses are not too stilted and robotic-sounding. Also, people sometimes use a mix of languages in their conversation. This may sometimes present problems in language detection and comprehension of the query.
Some chatbots are menu-based, while others are context- or keyword-based and aim to provide a more fulfilling experience. But they also have a bigger challenge of living up to the expectations of human-like conversation.
Types of chatbots
Different types of chatbots exist, depending on how well they can interact with the human visitor. However, the function of every type of chatbot is enhanced with the addition of multilingual AI capabilities.
FAQ or form-based. These are simple rule-based chatbots. They work with a set of keywords that are already mapped to help pages. When the user keys in any of these keywords, the chatbot will automatically generate a list of pages that mention the keyword. But the efficiency of these chatbots is improved only when the translator can think of different keywords that a person might use to describe what they are looking for.
Note that not everyone will type out sentences correctly or even complete them. There might be spelling mistakes or other types of errors that human beings can make. There will be specific ways in which people word a query in different places. The chatbot will have to parse such queries efficiently so that the customer can get accurate responses.
Decision tree-based. These are complex rule-based chatbots. Essentially, they normalize the query and then input that into the system to arrive at the responses. It feels more like a human conversation, as these chatbots build a dialog with the user.
Machine learning chatbots. They learn through questions and answers with the user. The system tries to figure out the intent of the user and thereby arrive at responses.
Hybrid chatbots. They are rule-based and have machine learning capabilities. The chatbot is already trained in the rules of a language. And it uses this knowledge to try and figure out the query. However, it’s also learning constantly. Linguists are involved in the training of such machines.
Voice bots. Chatbots also differ based on whether they are text- or voice-based. Queries are increasingly becoming voice-based, thanks to the mobile phone to a large extent. As such, voice-based bots can aid shorter and quicker conversations. There are hybrid voice bots which can text as well as speak. And there are also purely voice-based bots, which only speak. Whether you choose a purely voice-based bot or a text-and-voice bot depends on your business sector and the typical requirements of your customers. For instance, if they are going to be on the move most of the time, text capabilities are good to have, as voice might be difficult to access in noisy or remote areas with limited data connectivity.
Enabling global business
As companies move to new markets, it is not always easy to hire and train customer care officers quickly. Chatbots can step in here and provide the necessary back-up.
The future of chatbots is just beginning. The ways in which companies can tap their potential is limitless and can be very powerful. And when the chatbots can speak the language of your customer, you solve many problems for the customer as well as for yourself.