Chatbots, also known as “conversational agents”, are software applications that mimic written responses or spoken human speech for the purposes of simulating a conversation or interaction with a real person. There are two primary ways chatbots are offered to visitors, this can be through web-based applications or standalone apps.
At the heart of chatbot technology lies Natural Language Processing (NLP), the same technology that forms the basis of the voice recognition systems used by virtual assistants such as Amazon Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google Assistant, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Chatbots process the text presented to them by the user, before responding according to a complex series of algorithms that identifies and interprets what the user said, infers what they mean and/or want, and determines a series of appropriate responses based on this information.
Although chatbot technology is distinctly different from Natural Language Processing (NLP) technology, the former's advance rate is reliant on the latter's. Without continued developments in NLP, chatbots remain at the mercy of algorithms’ current ability to detect the subtle nuances in both written and spoken dialogue.
This is where most applications of NLP struggle; any system or application that relies upon a machine’s ability to parse human speech is likely to struggle with the complexities inherent in elements of language such as metaphors and similes. Despite these considerable limitations, chatbots are becoming increasingly sophisticated, responsive, and more “natural.”
Our own experience is an example of this evolution. Whereas the virtual assistants listed above have broad coverage they struggle with detail. I myself have asked Alexa to carry out what I think are more detailed and yet still simple tasks and it fails to execute them. At Wyser, we realised the value added for Law Firms and ADR providers is delivering AI Q&A interfaces with deep understanding and subject matter expertise in specific areas e.g., specific types of civil law cases.
Firstly, consumers of legal services are no longer comparing their digital experience with other Law Firms and Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) providers, they are comparing them against the likes of Amazon and we believe in time more specifically with what we are developing at Wyser. Whilst a number of law tech providers like DoNotPay, a robo-lawyer that fights parking tickets, which creates legally binding non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) between parties, are creating mobile solutions specifically for B2C Law Firms, uptake prior to Covid-19 was mixed as many firms remained reluctant to invest in technology even when consumer behaviours and expectations were more advanced than what is currently being offered.
Covid-19 has doubtlessly accelerated technology adoption, with technology vendors such as Microsoft witnessing “two years’ worth of digital transformation in two months.” Search insights on Google Trends show that consumer behaviours have become increasingly digital. Whether for transactional, educational, or personal purposes, people have turned to digital channels for many more aspects of their lives. As a result, consumers are no longer expecting only the experience they were offered before, instead, they have developed much higher digital expectations. All Law Firms and Alternative Dispute Resolution providers, regardless of vertical or size, need to accelerate their digital adoption and transform their operations to meet consumers' expectations and give them the experience they want.
If you would like to know more about the Q&A Interface and related consultancy services that Wyser offer, please contact us.