What is Conversational Artificial Intelligence (AI)

By Botpress

What is conversational AI

  • Conversational Artificial Intelligence is the brain and soul of the chatbot. It is what helps the chatbot lead your users to a specific goal. Conversational AI allows for human-like conversations between computers and individuals
coversational AI Chatbot

Throughout history, communication has either been verbal, written, or visual. This allowed us to participate in conversations and learn more about ourselves and the world around us. Conversations, in particular, require two different elements. Multiple people and a means of communication. 

Fortunately, throughout the years, with technology advances, we’ve discovered new innovative means of communication. We have now unlocked new ways to communicate directly with our technology in a conversational environment using chatbots. 

Having natural conversations with robots is now possible. Not only that, but they make our personal and professional lives easier. Indeed, today we can go on vacation and ask for a device to lower the blinds at home as if we were there, to turn on the air conditioning when we are about to arrive, to tell us how to say thank you in Mandarin or remind us of the list of tasks we have to complete. 

How to define Conversational AI?

Conversational Artificial Intelligence can be defined as the element responsible for the logic behind robots exchanges, it is the brain and soul of the chatbot. Conversational AI helps the robot lead the users to a specific goal. It allows for human-like conversations between machine and humans. 

Conversational AI is powered by Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP focuses on interpreting human language, while developers present the basic framework for how a conversation can unfold. Simply put, conversational AI and humans work together to create a virtual conversational experience in real-time through chatbots or conversational platforms. It is the evolution of artificial intelligence, which has learned to speak and listen.

How does Conversational AI work? 

Conversational AI uses the following technologies in order to understand, react and learn from interactions: 

  • Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR). This technology is used to transcribe spoken words into written text.
  • Natural Language Processing (NLP). This technology is used to understand how people organize their thoughts, feelings, language, and behavior. It is a subfield of computer science, artificial intelligence, and linguistics whose objective is to give a machine the capacity to interpret text and simulate the human ability to understand the language. In simple terms, NLP analyzes the meaning behind the text. 
  • Dialog management. This is used to form a response to the user’s query. 
  • Machine Learning (ML). This technology focuses on the analysis and interpretation of patterns and data structures that make learning, reasoning, and decision-making possible without human interaction. It allows the user to feed a computer algorithm with a huge amount of data, from which the computer analyzes all the information and is able to make decisions and make recommendations based solely on the data entered. 

How it works is that the application receives data input from a human, which can be in the form of written or spoken words. If the information is spoken then Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) is used transcribe the spoken words into text. 

The application then uses Natural Language Understanding (NLU), which is part of NLP, to determine the meaning of the text and the intent behind it.

The system then uses dialog management in order to form a response based on its understanding of the text’s meaning. It could also use Natural Language Generation (NLG), the other element of NLP, in order to convert its response in a format that will be understood by humans.

Following this step, the application sends its response to the user (either through text or speech synthesis). 

Finally, machine learning allows the application to learn and improve over time. Deep learning makes the machine more intelligent through each interaction. 


What are the advantages of conversational AI?

Now that you know what it is, how does it benefit you? Well, in many ways:

  1. Save time and money. Robots will be solving your customer’s queries and answering their questions so you will save a lot of time and money as opposed to if you were to do it manually. 
  1. Improved customer experience. For customers, sending a message is much faster than making a call. It is also preferred by new generations - Generation Z is more likely to chat than call. Plus, even if users use expressions, street language or spelling errors in their messages, the robot still fully understands what they mean.
  1. Faster response. If you have a problem, you want to get a solution quickly. It often takes a few hours for chat messages to be answered by human customer services but it is not the case for conversational AI. You get an immediate response and this guarantees better customer satisfaction. 
  1. Scalability. Want to use conversational AI with hundreds of people at the same time? No problem: Everything is scalable. Happy customer, happy life.
  1. Customer data collection. Once the chatbot has resolved the customer’s query, it will collect the client’s data in an efficient, friendly and natural way. Plus, bots can ask questions back too so you can learn valuable information from your customers. 
  1. Improved company image. In today’s world, it is very important to differentiate yourself from your competitors by offering customer added value in your products, services and any other aspect of your business. A good starting point is to improve customer service by delivering a more satisfying user experience. To achieve this, it is key to use a chatbot that is available 24 hours a day in real-time.

What are the different types of conversational AI applications? 

There are various conversational AI applications: 

  • AI Chatbots. Bots are programmed so that customers type keywords in order to receive the appropriate answer to their query. They use NLP to analyze and understand human speech. 
  •  Virtual Personal Assistants. These applications use NLP and ASR but they are linear so they are not able to carry context from one interaction to another. Siri, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa are examples of virtual personal assistants. 
  • Virtual Customer Assistants. These conversational AI systems are more advanced as they are able to carry context from one conversation to another. These virtual assistants are specialized in dialog management, which is why they are used to improve customer service. 
  • Virtual Employee Assistants. These applications are specialized and purpose-built. They are used to automate processes and make enterprise operations more efficient. Both virtual customer and employee assistants use advanced conversational AI technologies. 

What are the challenges faced by conversational AI? 

If you’re using a chatbot, which is a conversational AI application that is less advanced, you’ve probably faced at least one of the following challenges: 

  1. Privacy and Security 

When you’re dealing with sensitive data and personal information, Conversational AI applications have to be designed in very secure ways to make sure that privacy is respected.

  1. Changing patterns of communication

A lot of factors can influence the conversation between a machine and a human such as language, sarcasm, slang, etc. Conversational AI systems have to adapt to constant changes in communication to be able to keep up with human conversations.

  1. Awareness and Adoption

Conversational AI applications are becoming easier to use but there are still people that are not 100% comfortable with using this technology, mostly because they have little knowledge about it. Educating your customers about it can help the technology be better received for people who are not familiar with it.

What does conversational AI will mean for your business?

Conversational AI will drastically change our interaction with commerce online. It will affect all aspects of when, where and how you interact and communicate with your clients. With conversation based on Artificial Intelligence, you will hold seamless, synchronous conversations with your clients across any platforms they decide to choose to be using, no matter where they are located and the medium they are using. Conversational AI is the future of enterprise and customers interactions.

Building Your Conversational AI

Today, many providers will help you design and built a proper Conversational Chatbot for your business, the AI component of the equation is, however, more difficult to master and you may want to turn toward the specialized provider to be ahead of your market. To help you pick the best partner to build your conversational AI chatbot, we made the list of the top open-source chatbots platform on the market.


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Disclaimer: We encourage our blog authors to give their personal opinions.  The opinions expressed in this blog are therefore those of the authors. They do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Botpress as a company.