5 questions for Frank Smit, OBI4wan’s CIO
Meet: Frank Smit, founder of the artificial intelligence branch and CIO (Chief Innovation Officer) of OBI4wan. This branch offers the market artificial intelligence solutions, in particular chatbots, which can also be integrated in the social media intelligence software of OBI4wan. We hear and read a lot about chatbots in the media, but what are they really like – and are they relevant for my organization? We give Frank the floor.
In this article:
- For which parties can a chatbot be relevant?
- What is the role of a chatbot for internal communication, marketing and sales?
- Do you have a case to illustrate how a chatbot works?
- Which work can chatbots do within different sectors?
- What makes OBI4wan unique in the chatbot market?
1. For which parties can a chatbot be relevant?
“I can actually be very brief about that”, says Frank Smit. “A chatbot can be relevant to any organization that has contact with consumers or relationships – and wants to improve their online customer experience. In my opinion, this concerns every consumer-oriented organization, but a chatbot can also be relevant for B2B. In that case, a chatbot is of added value for various departments. Think of marketing, sales, customer contact of course, but also for internal communication.”
2. We have obviously heard of the chatbot for handling customer contact. A lesser known role of a chatbot is that of internal communication, marketing and sales. What’s up with that?
“Is a chatbot actually relevant for my organization and how can we use this?”, Is a question that many organizations still have – but also one that we often get asked at OBI4wan. A chatbot often sounds very complicated to many and the knowledge that communication professionals have about chatbots is often limited, “says Frank.
“Many parties think that chatbots can only handle questions quicker on the live chat channel. It’s actually so much more, irrespective of the channel and the application. It can not only answer questions, but also help customers get started or sell products, “says Frank Smit. A chatbot is even more widely deployable!
The goal of using a chatbot for marketing and sales is, for example, that prospects end up on the page where they request a demo or purchase a product as quickly as possible. A chatbot can help make the customer journey easier and to help out faster because there is no need for involving a customer service agent. For example, the customer can also be helped overnight which means you offer support 24/7. You can also get insights from the conversations between your chatbot and the consumer when you link them to your monitoring tool. In this way, you can monitor the conversations of your chatbot in addition to social media, live chat options, and other types of media. ”
“A chatbot is much more than a ‘quick-answer bot’ for customer service”
3. Do you have an example of how a chatbot works in practice?
“The market is often lacking of cases in which a chatbot is used successfully – because the market is obviously still very young. We now work together on chatbot technology and the integration with our monitoring tool with parties such as bol.com and LUMC. The first results of bol.com are already worth writing home about: both efficiency and customer satisfaction have increased considerably. ”
“But how does that work in practice? I will give you an example. Our chatbots use artificial intelligence (AI). AI makes it possible to derive smartly what your goal is as a customer. Take a pizza delivery service. The AI analyzes the message and deduces the goal. This is done based on machine learning. In addition, the chatbot ingeniously derives the next steps and asks the right questions.
This is called intentions and entities. Chatbots learn the intentions of the consumer based on examples. The intention is, for example, ordering a pizza. The chatbot knows that pizza cannot be ordered without, for example:
- Does the chatter actually want to order?
- How big does the chatter want the pizza to be?
- Which variety of pizza does the chatter want to order?
- Where should the pizza be delivered?
- When all questions have been answered, the chatbot gives the green light for the order.
4. What work can chatbots deliver in other sectors such as governments and banks?
Municipalities and other authorities often face the challenge of giving a lot of information at the right time and place. They often have websites with a lot of information, hierarchy and text. Residents often do not see the wood for the trees and because of all preconditions they’re often at a loss what to do. A chatbot can direct residents with a specific issue directly to the right page. This improves the user experience of the website, helps residents with the difficult and often administrative process while lowering the workload of marketing and customer service. Customer service will also experience more work happiness because they themselves are only busy with substantive questions.
Another marketing example comes from a bank. A bank is an institution with a lot of information and for some it can be very difficult to understand. A chatbot can immediately help customers and prospects to select the right savings account for instance. The bot can ask for information that it needs to immediately make a good and personal offer to the customer. In addition, marketing can also draw lessons from the type of customers that approach them and analyze the customer’s answers through a monitoring system.
5. What makes OBI4wan unique in the chatbot market?
We use AI to educate our chatbots. This results in a lower production price than for the traditional chatbot that makes use of line-based language recognition. In my team , I work with ambitious young people with an AI degree or a background in AI. That is how I started myself. Ultimately, I believe that machine learning (AI) will become increasingly important in customer contact, but also in marketing and sales for, for example, mapping and guiding customer journeys. We will focus on this in the future.
In addition, it is ideal that our chatbots can be integrated into our webcare and monitoring tool. We notice the greatest added value in this integration. Nowadays people do not want to work with different programs, but preferably with a dashboard where everything is possible. A combination of man and machine does not work well if the chatbot doesn’t know what man does and vice versa. OBI4wan ensures that this is the case. By claiming messages everyone knows what the other person is doing. In addition to social media handling, with live chat a chatbot now comes in the same environment. This is not only useful for the overview. Our bots can also be trained through the data we have collected in recent years!
6. One last statement?
“But apparently a chatbot does not offer a solution for everyone …”, Frank laughs.