Remember watching Star Trek as a kid and dreaming of talking to a computer throughout the day? Then PCs arrived, and while you couldn’t control them with your voice, information was at your fingertips. And then along came Siri and Cortana as well as other artificial intelligence technologies like chat bots. The future has arrived!
Though initially clunky and limited in their capabilities, chat bots are getting smarter and more human-like. Earlier this year, students taking a course online at the Georgia Institute of Technology found out that their friendly teaching assistant, Jill Watson, was, in fact, a chat bot and not a real person as they had believed all semester.
Siri, Cortana, and various transactional bots that appear when you order flowers and other services online are likely to play a more prominent role as you interact with businesses online. For example, you can already use Cortana on Windows 10, and Mac OS Sierra, which is now in public beta and expected to arrive in the fall, will bring Siri to the Mac. Not only will you be able to interact with Siri on your computer, she’ll have a direct link to Apple Pay. Developers, at long last, have been given access to Siri, which means you’ll soon be able to order and pay for products with a simple Siri command.
Amazon’s Echo audio device is another example of how technology is changing how we interact with computers. This device is always listening and ready to play music, look up information, give you a weather report, order pizza, read you a story, control smart home devices, and more — all with a voice command.
Star Trek had it right when it envisioned how we interact with computers. In one iconic scene, Scotty traveled back in time to contemporary 1986. He tried to talk to the computer, but given 1980s technology, he got no response. After trying to address it, someone handed him the mouse. He tried talking into the mouse. Again, no response. Finally, he was told to use the keyboard. How primitive can you get?
Scotty would be happy to know that we are finally approaching what he thought was the obvious way to interact with computers. Computer bots are finally not only understanding what we say but also taking lots of complex actions based on what we tell them to do!
Technology has progressed to the point where Facebook wants companies to forgo email and talk to Gen-Zers via chat bots. According to Facebook’s Developer News Post, How to Build Bots for Messenger, “…bots make it possible for you to be more personal, more proactive, and more streamlined in the way that you interact with people.”
Clearly, bots have a big job to do, and that job is getting bigger and more complex. Are they up to the task?
Unfortunately, there have been problems with bots not validating information correctly. Shortly after Facebook’s online demonstration of 1-800 Flowers’ chat bot integration with Messenger, users began posting their own awkward interactions with the bot. One user entered a delivery address multiple times, yet the chat bot continuously ignored the given address, prompting the user to enter an address again or choose from a list of buildings located halfway around the world.
So, while chat bots are getting better, smarter, and more prominent, Facebook’s Messenger and other companies using bots need to do a better job of fuzzy matching. Service Objects easily handles these delivery issues with no problems whatsoever. The address would have been validated correctly and frustration free.
Remember, as friendly and helpful as bots appear, they are not humans; they are computer programs. While a human may quickly recognize an address or apartment number even if it’s in a non-standard format, computers rely on the algorithms and databases they’ve been instructed to use — and it’s your classic case of garbage in, garbage out.
If a chat bot has been integrated with a quality Address Validation API such as Service Objects’, it will be able to instantly understand and recognize an entry as an address.
Now here’s where a chat bot has an advantage over a human: linked to an address verification API like our real-time address parsing software, a chat bot could instantly verify and correct address data as well as retrieve geocodes that pinpoint the exact address location on a map.
As smart and intuitive as bots are, they still need our help. The best way you can help your company’s chat bots is to link them to our address validation API. It’s easy and affordable, and it will deliver a superior customer experience, not to mention delivering those tulips to the correct address.