Natural Language Processing (NLP) is gaining ever more relevance as it applies to virtual agents....
October 12, 2021
When people think of chatbots, mostly they envision little helpers popping up on the lower right side of webpages. Maybe a bit annoying if you are not looking for anything particular, often helpful, they take away the guesswork of navigating to the right information within the site by interacting with users in natural language. Users write a question, the chatbot interprets its meaning and answers with the information. Or maybe not – depending on how well made the chatbot is.
Chatbots are supplanting the venerable website FAQs section, provide services and answers for the most common needs, even let users perform some self-service tasks like order products or make payments. This way, chatbots improve the customer experience and service most of the interactions in self-service mode, while costing a fraction of live agents, who can concentrate on the interactions that chatbots cannot solve and require creativity and human touch.
But chatbots always need users to come to them and initiate the interaction.
The reason is obvious: how can a website reach out to users who are not “visiting” its pages? True, chatbots also use other channels: messaging services (WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger), text messages, email. These can be used to start conversations and sometimes they are. But it’s not common or immediate: people are not necessarily watching their messaging apps all the time and messages from companies can be ignored easily.
There are good reasons for companies to reach users proactively and immediately: for instance, to remind them of an appointment and give them the ability to reschedule. Or to confirm an order before it ships. Text messages can be used for that but there’s no guarantee that the answer will be fast – or there will be an answer at all. The main way to reach people quickly and with real-time feedback is a phone call: the phone will ring and if the user answers the unfolding conversation allows to go over the matter completely and with a high degree of certainty. So, this is now done with automatic dialers that are backed up by live agents, which is also expensive and not pleasant for the agents themselves. Too bad that chatbots cannot use the phone.
Or can they?
PhoneMyBot by Interactive Media provides services that allow chatbots to seamlessly operate on voice channels, starting with the telephone. It is a Cloud-based environment with connectivity to the telephone network, APIs to connect with the chatbots, and using multiple speech-to-text and text-to-speech services to “translate” between the voice-based and text-based ends.
PhoneMyBot uses a layer of software adaptors to natively talk with several common conversational AI frameworks. Chatbots based on these frameworks don’t have to do anything to interact with voice users: they see the endpoint as just another website-based client. But of course, this is for incoming calls.
But PhoneMyBot also exposes a standard cloud API that the chatbots can use, and it supports placing calls to telephones. Once the call is established, the chatbot interacts with the user like in any other chat conversation, leaving to PhoneMyBot the task of converting between text and voice. If the call cannot be connected, or it goes to voicemail, the chatbot receives a message from PhoneMyBot and can continue to the next call.
The applications are numerous, all resulting in better customer experience and lower costs for the company:
- Reservations and scheduling
- Order confirmations, delivery alerts
- Reminders or appointment confirmation
- Service renewal
With its outbound service, PhoneMyBot allows to use chatbots in a completely new way, giving voice to their chat and opening new perspectives. To learn more please visit https://www.phonemybot.com or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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