For the past 30+ years, software has been built using graphic user interfaces (GUI), which enable users to control applications by selecting, pointing, and clicking. However, recently all that has begun to change with the rapid development of conversational-based user interfaces (CUI).

 

 

Thanks to advancements with CUI, users can now have almost human-like conversational exchanges with software. The latest advancements are so compelling that 37% of CIOs are planning to launch virtual assistants using CUI in 2017. (Source: Forrester / CIO Magazine.)

This statistic points to a larger trend, which extends across all sectors. Mainly, companies everywhere are looking for new ways to have interactive, digital conversations with their customers. Let’s take a closer look at what virtual assistants within the CUI are capable of today, and where they’re headed.

Virtual assistants have been a long time in the making

To understand where customer service is going, we need to understand where it has come from. Here’s the general trajectory. First customers could only call your company and speak to one of your live agents, which is very expensive. Then, the internet enabled you to post FAQs on your website. This self-service option helped create efficiencies and cut down on customer service costs, somewhat.

Next, companies took their first steps toward interactive digital conversations by launching live chat sessions, as well as email ticketing systems. While both of these technical advancements increased call deflection and helped further cut down costs, they’re still quite costly.

Now we’re at a point where companies are thinking about how to automate their digital conversations by launching a virtual assistant. This is where CUI technology comes into play.

Virtual assistants can “talk” to you thanks to CUI

Essentially CUI is the overlaying interface that ensures a virtual assistant can interact with customers using conversational language. Keep in mind that at this point a company’s CUI works behind the scenes to power text-based virtual assistants. Not everyone wants, or needs, to rollout another SIri.

However, rolling out a CUI-powered virtual assistant isn’t as easy as it sounds. It takes a lot of coding and backend work by engineers to make that happen. (You can read all about first- and second-generation virtual assistants and their coding issues here.) After all, CUI technology only enables a virtual assistant to mimic conversational speech. Behind the scenes, someone still needs to anticipate those responses, and an engineer needs to program them with rules that anticipate the elements of each use case.

It’s still daunting to launch a virtual assistant

While there are many benefits to rolling out a virtual assistant, many companies balk when the time comes to launch one. Here’s why.

Their first option is to launch an off-the-shelf virtual assistant that they really don’t have any control over. Once all the backend coding and programming is done, customers will interact with the system and the company won’t have any control or knowledge of how it’s going behind the scenes. The virtual assistant’s responses, as well as when it escalates to a live agent, have all been predetermined and are now locked away in an AI black box. It’s scary to place so much trust in this first point of contact with your customers. After all, your brand image is at stake.

Another way to go is to hire a team of engineers to build a virtual assistant. The benefit of this second option is that it’s a lot less scary because it enables companies to retain control over their brand. With a customized system, companies can tailor virtual assistant responses based on customer feedback. Over time, internal data can inform best practices, which the company’s engineers can incorporate into the virtual assistant. Unfortunately, while the risks are low with developing a virtual assistant internally, the costs are high, especially in terms of precious internal engineering resource allocation.

3rd Gen virtual assistants make digital conversations possible

While companies were once forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, new innovations in third generation virtual assistant technology means they no longer have to. Today, you can control and configure exactly what is going into your CUI thanks to new technology developed exclusively by Rulai.

Rulai’s Customer Interaction Management (CIM) platform puts you in total control of your self-service system, no coding or engineering required. Unlike other virtual assistants, Rulai’s CIM is not an AI black box. It features a real-time, drag-and-drop GUI that enables you to completely configure and manage all interactions. You can customize the system according to your company’s internal best practices. This means you choose exactly when it escalates to live agents, as well as type-in new conversational responses.

Notably, Rulai’s CIM is powered by mixed-task, multi-initiative AI technology that runs deep learning algorithms across natural language understanding and, most importantly, the dialog systems that are used to generate the memory and context needed to engage in multi-round conversations . Called MITIS for short, this technology enables you to program complex conversations that scale to the needs of your endemic use cases.

Rulai’s CIM platform approach also allows your internal development teams to continue to build and integrate relevant functionality through an API integration with our service manager. This means that the typical buy/build decision process is transformed into a partnership with Rulai. With Rulai’s technology, you not only own and manage your own CX, but you’re also given the possibility of simultaneously building complementary features that combine with the CIM to deliver a better overall customer experience.

With Rulai, you can take total control of your virtual assistant today. Learn more: