Business are always looking for the next technological innovation that can optimize their top and bottom line business objectives, namely increasing revenue and decreasing cost.

Have you ever felt pressure from others in your organization to invest in the latest and greatest in terms of technology? Did people want to use technology simply for the sake of using technology? Technology is best used when it has purpose for a specific goal. Of all of the innovations that have emerged recently, chatbots, powered by artificial intelligence, hold potential for optimizing the customer or client experience while improving internal performance.

If you are wondering what a chatbot is or how they are trained to operate, then this is the article for you. A chatbot cannot simply be used. You must have awareness of how chatbots operate and function.

What is a chatbot?

Businesses should always be focused on the customer. Anything you can do to improve their experience is a great goal. The goal of a chatbot is to create an experience in which you feel like you are talking to a human and getting the responses needed. Artificial intelligence is the engine behind the chatbot. It is a new technology that provides the extra edge in the customer experience.

Have you ever chatted through an online service with your internet provider or car dealership? You were probably talking to a chatbot! They are appealing because they provide quick and 24 hour a day answer. Chatbots are comfortable because we are used to talking online anyways.[i] Your business would use a chatbot to interact with customers whenever and wherever they need it.

Just like a baby learns how to talk through conversations with other people, chatbots need to be trained as well. We want to feel like we are talking to a human. Businesses need to be prepared to spend time training the chatbot through the right steps.

Key steps in training a chatbot

It is easy to create a chatbot. Multiple technology companies are able to offer this surface such as IBM, Amazon, and Motion AI. That is not enough! When you train your chatbot, you need to do it by looking at your business requirements. The most important part of training the chatbot is testing it! Imagine the horror of releasing a social media chatbot, only to have it be trained to offend people such as the Microsoft chatbot, Tay.

Think back to the last time you trained a team. What was the situation that prompted the training? You probably needed to meet a goal. You can consider training a chatbot to occur in a similar way. The very first step in training a chatbot is to identify what requirements and goals are needed. You must determine the language you want the chatbot to have, the people it will be talking to and their language. This is actually more complicated than first appears. For example, if you are an education business and use the word approved school. In Britain, that would mean a school for juvenile delinquents.

It can be helpful to develop a few different cases and personas in which the chatbot will be used. After this, determine why the user would be talking to the chatbot. This will help you to train the chatbot to decide what information to pull from the intelligence system. In technical terms, this is known as intent and entities

  • Define the correct Intent

A chatbot can’t do everything. At some point, a human may be needed to continue the conversation. You need to train the chatbot to know when this would occur for your business. Think about a conversation that HR might have with an employee. It could start with a simple question, when do I get paid? However, this person may follow up with a complicated FMLA question and how it impacts pay. At this point, the chatbot might need to transfer the talk over to a HR employee. This is because the chatbot does not have enough training to answer this question.

  • Train the Chatbot with Multiple Human Responses

No two humans will respond the same way. Part of training the chatbot means providing it with plenty of possible responses that it might receive. This makes it more likely to pull the right answer from its’ knowledge. Unfortunately, this is a complex and time-consuming process. The human language is very complicated. A chatbot needs to handle nuances in language just like a human. Even humans have a hard time understanding meaning in an online chat! Consider interviewing your end users, gathering their answers, and using this to train the chatbot.

  • Map the Goal between Human Response and Information Bank

The next step in the process, after gathering user responses, it is time to train the chatbot to combine user goals with user language. In other words, combining intents with responses. This improves the ability of the chatbot to pull out relevant information. This alignment, or mapping, requires an expert to make connections for the chatbot.

  • Draw a Line Between Confidential and Shareable Data

A chatbot uses data. Some of this data may be confidential or considered private. Imagine the repercussions for your company if the chatbot accidentally released confidential information! This part of the training requires you to help the chatbot realize when it is not okay to access certain information. Just like the previous step, an expert is needed to draw a line between what is and is not okay for your use case.

  • Test and Retest

No chatbot is going to be perfect right off the bat. Practice makes perfect. After the chatbot has data and actions, you need to see where the errors are. There are tests to perform to know where this error is. A chatbot requires consistent testing and evaluation. One bad experience can turn a customer, even a longstanding one, away for good.

  •  Integrate with Artificial Intelligence

The final phase of training the perfect chatbot is artificial intelligence integration. The intelligence provided turns the chatbot from an entry level to a senior employee. It starts to actually learn your business practices. Machine learning is the item that helps a chatbot to become better at communicating. When thinking back to the human responses, it is artificial intelligence that helps a chatbot know how to identify and respond to customer needs.

Artificial intelligence training has two parts. The first part is to get better at knowing the root of the customer’s problem. This is not easy because a customer does not always know the best way to describe their problem.

The second part is like the engine that allows the car to drive. It is the artificial intelligence system. The engine of a car does not work by itself. It requires other parts like the piston to work. A chatbot will work with multiple artificial intelligence systems to deliver successful outcomes. Let’s say that a customer wants an appointment with a financial advisor. The chatbot can connect with a calendar and see when there are openings. Even though you will train the chatbot before it is talking to customers, the chatbot is constantly learning from customer responses. This can improve future conversations with customers.

Verdict

Just like your mind requires constant learning, an artificial cognitive system, like a chatbot needs learning in an iterative process. The steps described above will help your chatbot to respond to the complexities of human language. This response is not possible without training.

The use of chatbots is not slowing down. More and more companies are using them to help the business and improve the customer experience. How successful a chatbot is depends on the experience the user has with them. Was the chatbot like an automated answering service that stops people from wanting to call again? Or was it a seamless experience that produced a good outcome? A chatbot must be able to know what the user needs and the right answer for this need. If you follow the steps in this blog, you will have a chatbot that is ready to understand the nuances of language and create satisfactory answers.