May 6, 2018
New Applications for Chatbots
When we think of chatbots, we often default to website customer service. While greeting and helping customers online still remains their primary purpose, advancements in AI allow for chatbots to make a more profound impact in other areas.
A recent Computer Weekly article highlights how chatbots make a difference in a range of disciplines from healthcare to accounting to education. As innovation advances in the space, we will see chatbots used in nearly every sector of the economy.
Chatbots will also manifest themselves in different forms. We already see the rising popularity of virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa. Siri and Alexa are examples of auditory chatbots that use AI to improve and learn more about their users over time. We will see more intersections between chatbots and IoT as the technology advances and becomes more ubiquitous.
Intuit created a chatbot known as QuickBooks Assistant aimed at helping users access their own data. However, the company soon realized customers used the bot primarily to ask product related questions. The article cites that Intuit measures the customer support problem resolution timing. Problem resolution using the chatbot tends to be much faster than other methods such as call centers or emails. Intuit’s uses AI to make constant improvements to its bot. It aims to make improvements to the chatbot so that it eventually understands the context of the customer’s problem.
BI Norwegian Business School is developing a chatbot that helps students interact and engage more with their classes. This solves some of the issues the school faced with student engagement in very large classes. According to the Computer Weekly article, the bot helps students talk to each other, ask questions and talk about course concepts. The bot also follows up with students to check in and gauge their progress. In large lecture-style courses, many students fall behind as a result of little to no personal engagement from professors. Chatbots may be able to supplement that.
The article cites a mental health bot developed by psychologists called Woebot. The bot aims to help people with depression, anxiety or for those who just need a pick me up. It can help track your mood, educate you on cognitive therapy techniques and learn from you over time. It even tells jokes. A Stanford University study found using Woebot led to substantial reductions in anxiety and depression for patients 18-28. Chatbots are getting so good, they can now function as a therapist on your phone.