Inbenta Launches Hybrid Chat, Integrating Live Chat with Artificial Intelligence



Inbenta, providers of a natural language search platform powered by artificial intelligence, today launched its Hybrid Chat service, which combines Inbenta's self-service virtual assistant support with its on-demand live chat technology.

When companies deploy Hybrid Chat on Web sites, customers seeking support will immediately see an interactive Help window on the homepage. Once engaged, the customer is greeted by a customized virtual assistant. Customers begin the conversation by typing their questions into the chat box; the virtual assistant then accesses the company's knowledge base to find the most relevant answers. If the customer is satisfied with the answer, he closes out of the window and proceeds through his journey. If not, he can connect to a live agent. The full chat conversation is instantly sent to the responding agent so she can pick up the conversation where the virtual assistant left off.

"The interaction is started with the virtual assistant, which has the intelligence to see that it cannot provide the solution and can forward [the interaction] to a live agent," explains Jordi Torras, CEO of Inbenta. "The agent gets all the context, so there's no need for the customer to repeat himself, which we all know is very frustrating."

Hybrid Chat can detect whether agents are online or not. Support teams can make real-time changes to the Help widget so, depending on the time of day and agent availability, customers have access to the virtual assistant only, a virtual assistant and chat, or just the chat feature. 

Though originally designed to work with Inbenta's live chat technology, Hybrid Chat can be integrated with chat and knowledge base software from other companies, such as Genesys, Zendesk, and Salesforce.com's Desk.com. "When you use Inbenta's solution, all the conversations happen smoothly on the same user interface," Torras says. "With the others, there might be a little bit of a change-over. The transition might not be as smooth."

Artificial intelligence is the new buzzword in customer service, according to Torras, who notes that customers also "really appreciate live chat, where they can get their questions answered right through the company Web site."

Opus Research predicts that digital customer service interactions like these will become the primary point of contact for customers within three years. The research firm estimates that customer service represents about two thirds of the total enterprise intelligence assistant market, which is expected to exceed $1 billion in annual spending in 2020 in North America alone. Dan Miller, Opus Research lead analyst, summed up the trend in a statement:

"As intelligent assistant technology evolves, we anticipate the emergence of highly specialized intelligent advisors that know when and how to involve a live agent. Inbenta's Hybrid Chat is the beginning of this progress." 

Inbenta customers already using Hybrid Chat include Ticketmaster, Ticketbis, Volotea, and Movistar. Andreia Ferreira, live chat manager at Ticketbis, in a statement likened Hybrid Chat to in-store assistance:

"As a transactional e-commerce-based company, having a superior digital customer support program is essential. You wouldn't make your brick-and-mortar customers search your store without helping them, so why not give them a personalized experience virtually. Having an intelligent virtual assistant at Ticketbis not only means providing a great customer experience, but improving the workflow for our agents. We've seen tremendous growth in our self-service ratio; 86 percent of incoming queries are now being answered by our FAQ search results."

Torras says the benefits extend beyond customer service. "Hybrid Chat helps to make sure that all of the customers' issues are resolved, so it benefits marketing and sales as well. Conversion rates can be higher when Hybrid Chat is used," he states.