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Creating an AI Assistant: The Evolution of Chatbot Technology

Martijn van der Does
Martijn van der Does
27 Feb 2024 - 3 min read

The world of customer interaction is alive with two simple words: ‘AI Assistants’. But how can they optimize your business practices, and what does it take to build one for yourself? 

Here, we examine how AI Assistants (or ‘chatbots’) are created, take a closer look at the technological evolution that’s led us to this point, and explore the benefits they can bring to your business.

The Basics: What is an AI Assistant

An AI assistant, or chatbot, is a software application designed to simulate conversation with human users. Naturally available 24/7, these virtual helpers can drastically reduce waiting times for customers seeking urgent answers, providing a boost to customer satisfaction without the need to scale up a human customer service team.

TLDR – AI Assistants allow immediate, 24/7 customer interaction at significantly lower cost.

From Humble Beginnings: Keyword-Based Bots

In their early iterations, chatbots were relatively simple, capable only of recognizing certain keywords and responding with pre-selected prompts or replies. 

Think of these early versions as something like a library index card – if you asked for a book about 'cats', you’d get a straightforward answer about where to find books on cats, and what books are currently available.

Real-world Example: Many businesses and sites used these basic, early chatbots to act as FAQ bots for their users. For example, a customer asks: "What is your return policy?". The chatbot would reply with exact details of a company’s return policy details – without missing a beat. 

Getting Smarter: Rule-Based AI Assistants

Next came rule-based AI assistants. On the surface, these assistants function similarly to keyword bots. But their underlying mechanics, functions, and potential are exponentially greater.

Chief among their advancements is their ability to handle a flow of conversation based on rules. For example, users could inform the AI assistant that they’re looking for a new phone; based on this information, they can ask follow-up questions like what features they need, a model/make, and their budget.

Real-world Example: A famous early adopter of conversational AI was a globally recognized pizza chain. Within their app, you could order pizza by talking with a chatbot, which could suggest toppings and sizes based on your previous orders, popular pizzas, and more.

TLDR Conversational AI Allows for more complex interactions, guiding customers through a more personalized experience.

Advanced AI: Learning and Adapting

Now, for the good stuff: advanced AI. These chatbots make use of something called ‘machine learning’. Meaning, they can actually learn and improve themselves over time. They understand language in a much more natural way and are not solely reliant on keywords or rules, which require manual input to function effectively.

Real-world Example: Customer service bots, like those employed by Amazon, use advanced AI models. They understand your questions more flexibly and can even start to predict what you need help with. 

TLDR – Advanced conversational AI adapts to individual user preferences, providing tailored support and a more human-like interaction than ever before.

The Future: Emotional Intelligence and Beyond

AI is now heading into uncharted, yet exciting territory. It’s evident that chatbots are now starting to understand emotions and context. This means they can tell if you’re upset and respond in a comforting way, or recognize if you’re in a hurry and speed things up.

What does this innovation mean for businesses? Future AI Assistants may be able to recognize and adapt to the emotional state of the user, ensuring a compassionate and empathetic customer service experience – each and every time.

Real-world Example: Popular mental health apps now employ AI Assistants that can gauge your mood based on the pattern of your typing. They can use this information to offer appropriate, relevant support or coping strategies.

AI and You: Creating Your Own AI Assistant

You might be thinking: “Great, AI is becoming more advanced, and more accessible. But how can I build my own assistant or chatbot?”

Well, it starts with a clear understanding of what you would like your AI assistant to do. After that, it’s a matter of choosing the right tools for the job. If you’re trying to build a basic chatbot, there are platforms in the public domain that will allow you to create functional models, without the need for any previous programming knowledge.

For more advanced AI models, you’ll likely need to build a team that knows a thing or two about machine learning. Or you can use services that offer advanced AI capabilities that you can train and customize.

TLDR – Creating and implementing your own AI Assistant differentiates your brand, provides scalable customer service, and can continuously improve customer interactions.

Remember: Always keep your audience in mind. Your AI assistant should be helpful, respectful, and as human-like as possible – without overstepping the mark.

💡 How can we assist you? Choose from our two-tiered service options:

1. Consulting & Support

    • Ongoing assistance: Are you in the process of designing a chatbot and finding yourself stuck on a particular problem? We provide expert support to help you navigate through any challenges. Whether it's a technical glitch, a design dilemma, or an integration issue, our team is on standby to offer you the guidance you need to move forward.
    • Expert review: If you already have a chatbot in operation, we can perform an in-depth review. We’ll analyze its performance, user interaction, and technical structure, providing you with actionable feedback to enhance its functionality and user engagement.

2. Custom-Made Solutions

    • Fully tailored chatbots: Our team specializes in the bespoke development of chatbots tailored to your specific business needs. From conceptualization to launch, we handle every step, ensuring that your chatbot is finely tuned to engage your customers effectively and streamline your operations.
    • DIY support: If you're taking the initiative to build your chatbot using tools like Microsoft Co-Pilot or other platforms, we’re here to guide you. We can offer step-by-step assistance, best practices, and troubleshooting to empower you to create a chatbot that’s both sophisticated and aligned with your vision.