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Chat bots — A Conversational AI


harin joshi

The evolution of artificial intelligence-based technology is evolving today with plethora of services being offered in different domains.

This decade saw the rise of many chat applications like WeChat, Line, Viber, Slack .Well, how many of you use the mentioned chat applications?

I have used all of them out of curiosity.

With the spread of messengers, virtual assistants that imitate human conversations for solving various tasks have become increasingly in demand. Chinese WeChat bots can already do tasks like setting medical appointments, calling a taxi, sending money to friends, check in for a flight.

Gartner forecasts that by 2020, over 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human. There are only few days for 2020 to begin and we can observe that scenario related to chatbot has been changing rapidly.

The opportunities provided by chatbot systems go far beyond giving responses to customers’ inquiries. There are other business tasks where chatbots are being used extensively like collecting information about users, helping to organize meetings and reducing overhead costs. No wonder that size of the chatbot market is growing exponentially . Chatbots have become very important for all business because they are fast enough to resolve customers’ queries which in turn helps business address more customer queries.

So, what do you think is chatbot ? Is it a computer program ?a service? a system ? or just a module?

According to Oxford Dictionary, a chatbot is

“A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.”

But I would put it rather in a practical way being a chatbot developer,

“A chatbot is a service which is powered by rules and sometimes AI, that we interact through UI”

In this article ,I would like to cover an interesting case study of Swiggy. For Indians, Swiggy is one of the most popular platforms .For those outside of India ,I would say Swiggy is India’s largest and most valuable online food ordering and delivery platform.

Founded in 2014,in an office space in Koramangala, Bangalore, 1 neighborhood,6 delivery executives and 25 partner restaurants are what Swiggy started off with. Growing at 25 percent month-on-month, almost 4 years into the field, Swiggy now has a major presence in Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Chennai, and Kolkata.

They have partnered with 12,000 restaurants and over 13,000 delivery executives. According to the RoC data filed by the company, the net worth of the company is Rs 3,86,34,590 with a turnover of Rs 7,41,702.

Aren’t these stats interesting?

At Swiggy, chat is one of the primary contact media for the customers to reach out. Approximately 70% of the customers prefer to communicate via chat than on call.

Here is an interesting story how Swiggy got their third-party customer support system converted into an automated process.

In the year 2018, Swiggy became so popular that it expanded from 9 to 200+ cities and this resulted in approx. 10 times increase in number of conversations daily . As it is rightly said, “Necessity is the mother of Invention”, third party software used by Swiggy wasn’t enough as Swiggy was planning to extract customer satisfaction scores, rate of order cancellation etc. For the customers, the chat experience was not at par with Swiggy’ s highly recognized UX. Swiggy was keen on interactive messaging components and monitor customer interactions with each of these components.

The support executives were also not very thrilled with the increased traffic. They were solving similar repetitive complaints every time — whether it was order cancellation or updating the customers about their order status. That is when they started exploring ideas related to chat bot.

Swiggy started off with a controlled flow within conversations i.e. customers wouldn’t be required to type in any text but are provided with options to choose from and proceed to next step. This was actually “Decision Tree” working behind the scenes.

Over a period , Swiggy was able to gather some common reasons for order cancellation and created a chat bot flow which is something like:

Ask customer reason for cancellation->predicted time delivery as deterrence->Show cancellation fee->Ask customer for confirmation on cancellation->details about refund using rich visualization.

This workflow has increase speed of cancellation process by 96.3%.Cancellation process which took around an average of 5 minutes, now can be done in 10 seconds.

This is probably one of the classical examples of how chat bots help business in solving customer queries faster and more efficient.

At the end,here are some facts to look forward in 2020:

  1. 80% of businesses are projected to integrate some form of chat bot system by 2020.
  2. The market value of chat bots was $703 million in 2016 now it has grown into billion.
  3. There are more than 300,000 active chat bots on Facebook.
  4. 69% of consumers prefer chat bots because of their ability to provide quick replies to simple questions.
  5. Businesses with at least $1 billion in annual revenues can expect to see an increase in average revenue by $823 million over three years.
  6. 1 in 5 consumers would potentially buy goods and services from chat bots

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