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Artificial Intelligence

A Guide to Custom Chatbot Development and Integrations

A chatbot (also known as a “talkbots” or “chat bot”) is an Artificial Intelligence software that creates conversation with one or more human users. Chatbots are capable of simulating natural conversation. You can use them to answer questions, solve problems, and provide customer service. Mashable declared 2016 “the Year of the Chatbot ”.

Dozens of brands have started using it to communicate with their customers via Facebook Messenger, Skype, SMS/MMS text messages, Slack, Google Assistant etc. For example – CNN recently launched a digital assistant called Homepage Bot for Facebook Messenger . Homepage Bot uses artificial intelligence technology to understand people’s questions and provide relevant answers based on its news knowledge base. The application also enables people to access CNN’s most popular stories, receive breaking news notifications, and get the latest updates from Facebook. Another example is DigitalGenius , a bot that helps financial services companies to automate customer service conversations on major social channels including Slack, Skype, Facebook Messenger etc.

Here at ClickSoftware we are actively working on development of our intelligent service platform – ClickRide which will offer chatbot creation capabilities for our customers soon. One of the key differences between ClickRide and existing products like Chatfuel is that ClickRide enables creation of full-scale conversational applications with additional ability to process business rules (for e.g., if statement). That said – there are few things that one should consider when starting out their search for a chatbot creation platform. I have listed them below.

1) What chat channels do you want to integrate?

The first step is to decide the list of chat channels where users will engage with your bot. While Facebook Messenger and Skype are highly popular – Slack , SMS/MMS text messages, Google Assistant etc., are coming up rapidly. It’s best if you can start by building a simple bot on one channel (like Facebook messenger) while it’s still in its infancy so that when people realize the value of these bots – you’ll already be ahead of everybody else in your space. Also consider whether or not your chatbot requires user authentication before talking to it (this feature might be called “logged-in status”). For example, in ClickRide we implement the so-called “restricted mode” in which chatbot interaction requires the click of a Login button.

2) How complex is your use case?

Chatbots can be used to automate simple tasks like sending out alerts and notifications or even answering basic questions such as telling time, date, weather etc. However – when looking at longer, more sophisticated interactions – chatbots start to become limited in terms of what they can do. For example – with ClickRide we offer users creation of conversational applications via our visual flow designer . Being able to handle business rules provides an unparalleled level of sophistication compared to other tools on the market today (which often only allow for creation of very rudimentary workflows ).. This capability is what makes ClickRide – really the only platform in the market today that enables creation of full-scale conversational applications.

3) What is your business model?

Chatbots allow you to automate communication with your target audience and provide them with necessary information. This communication can happen via an app or website, email, SMS/MMS text message, Facebook Messenger etc.. With ClickRide you can build a chatbot using a visual flow designer and deploy it to any of those channels. Our machine learning module ensures that your bot continuously learns from every conversation it has with end users and adapts its behavior accordingly. On top of that our Enterprise Edition offers integration capabilities to CRM systems , ERP systems , TM1 planning solutions , data warehouses and more. Our Enterprise Edition also offers integration with ClickSoftware’s time/billing management solution – ClickTime designed for on-demand workforce optimization . If you are looking to get started – please visit our website at www.clicksoftware.com/ClickRide

4) Do you need to build an MVP?

Chatbots can help bootstrap your new product by getting real users engaged with it early on. Another use case where chatbots excel is in marketing/promotions of these products via conversational applications that convey brand voice , mimic existing conversations happening between customers and agents of the company, answer frequently asked questions about its products etc..

5) How much time do you have?

Like any application – creating a fully-fledged chatbot requires a considerable amount of time & effort.

6) Do you require scalability? 

You want to be able to build your chatbot once and deploy to multiple channels without having repeated code for each ( Facebook Messenger , SMS/MMS text messaging, Slack etc.). If this is the case – ClickRide has got you covered with one visual flow designer that allows building of complex conversational applications that can easily be deployed across multiple platforms. With you will be able to design workflows that can answer questions like “What are the features of Product X?” or even “How much Product X costs?” in a fully automated way.

7) Do you require integration capabilities?

By integrating your chatbot with e.g. CRM system you will be able to use it as a part of your sales process. Your chatbot can prompt users asking if they need certain information before entering an interaction with a human agent – for example – the availability of Product X or Price quotes for this product etc. Offers integration capabilities to various systems including CRM , ERP, TM1 planning solutions, data warehouses and more by integrating with ClickSoftware’s scalable enterprise workforce optimization solution .

8) Do you require speech recognition?

Speech recognition is one of the most important parts in natural language processing (NLP). The earlier question “How much time do you have?” becomes relevant here. Without speech recognition building a fully-fledged chatbot will be challenging. Speech recognition is a complex technology and building a chatbot without it would require a significant amount of time , resources and an experienced team working on the project. offers built-in speech recognition capabilities allowing our customers to create fully automated natural language workflows that understand human speech.

9) Do you have a budget?

The amount of money you want to spend depends on your plans – do you simply need something that can answer FAQs ? Or do you need full-scale customer service via conversational application ? Perhaps, advanced marketing/promotion capabilities using ecommerce integration? With Enterprise Edition – we offer flexible pricing based on monthly usage which allows users to pay only for what they use in order to realize their AI ( Artificial Intelligence ) chatbot dreams.

10) Do you want to build a Chatbot with a visual flow designer?

You can either code your own bot from scratch or use visual flow designer and let it do the work for you – saving time and money. uses templates and pre-built building blocks and enables advanced customization and personalization of human agent flows seamlessly integrating with CRM , ERP, data warehouses, ecommerce systems etc. Our goal is to make our customers happy by giving them full control over their conversational experience with no coding required. If this sounds like an interesting project.

Conclusion:

The 10 questions above should help you to better understand what a chatbot builder is and how it can be used. The key takeaway from this article is that, if you don’t already have a highly experienced team who specializes in conversational applications or complex AI/machine learning, everything seems possible as we offer an easy way to create the next generation of digital assistants for ecommerce, customer service or marketing purposes .

 

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