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Artificial intelligence (A.I.) has been around for decades (since the 1950’s to be exact), but has more recently emerged as a technology with seemingly unlimited capabilities.

While A.I. was considered more of a science fiction-type fantasy in the past, it’s now being used as a powerful tool for increasing efficiency, automating complex tasks and making space for innovative new technologies in fields ranging from business to education to healthcare.

One of the most widely-used – and exciting – types of A.I. for business usage is natural language processing (NLP).

NLP helps computers understand and process human language, which has powerful implications for businesses who want to offer increased communication with customers and clients without the high cost of hiring additional staff.

Ever talked to a chatbot online? Chatbots can answer your questions and offer help because they rely on NLP to evaluate natural human language.

Natural language processing

You might tell a chatbot, “I love your product, but I feel that it’s a little pricey.” NLP will take this answer – and similar answers – and process it into feedback to let owners know that there is a high level of satisfaction with the product, but low level of satisfaction with the price.

NLP is also used for processing verbal language; speech to text capabilities on your smartphone; and even social media analytics.

However, A.I. – and NLP – aren’t perfect solutions for processing valuable information.

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NLP: A Powerful But Imperfect Solution

There are some tasks that can’t be replicated by a machine. For example, advanced customization, abstract thinking and some types of complex problem solving cannot always be effectively performed by a machine.

Businesses who want to use NLP to process customer feedback will find that this type of A.I. has limitations.

When it comes to processing feedback, categorization is king. Categorization helps to efficiently organize feedback into categories like “Customer Service,” “Price,” “Ease of Use,” and “Features.”

Then, categories may be divided into subcategories. For example, you might find “Good support/positive,” “Bad support/negative,” “Fast/efficient,” “Long waiting time,” and “Friendly/nice,” all under “Customer Service.”

Categories are key to producing actionable insights on top of rating questions, such as CSAT score (customer satisfaction), net promoter score (NPS), how customers are responding to specific features and why some customers may be unhappy with the product or service.

While natural language processing can be a powerful tool for automatic categorization of client feedback, there are several things it cannot do:

NLP Cannot Design MECE Categories

Mutually exclusive and collectively exhaustive (MECE) categories are often used by management consulting firms to help problem solve. The basic premise is that in order to effectively fix a problem, all potential solutions must be able to fit into only one category (mutually exclusive); and, all solutions must fit into a category (mutually exhaustive).

The goal of MECE categories are to eliminate confusion and help pinpoint actionable solutions. The ultimate result is that problem-solvers are better able to hone in on a solution that will fix the problem.

While this is a specific application of MECE, this problem-solving framework is also an efficient and effective approach to any type of organization, including that of customer feedback. It helps reduce duplication that could potentially warp metrics, and it allots every piece of feedback into a category, making it actionable.

Unfortunately, natural language processing cannot perform MECE organization on its own. MECE requires human intelligence to design a framework of categories that will factor in all possible results and ensure that each result has a mutually exclusive “home.”

NLP Has A Reduced Ability to Customize

Another key to efficient categorization is customization. Each business may have a unique set of feedback categories that are best suited to its product, service or type of insight that it’s looking to glean.

For example, most businesses will have feedback categories that apply to satisfaction with customer service or pricing – but some products or services may require additional categories. For example, a time-tracking app will need a unique set of categories that help process customer feedback on its ability to deliver accurate reports. A budgeting app will require categories that help process feedback on how accurately it categorizes purchases, and so forth.

Natural language processing can customize categories to a certain extent – but still cannot match human intelligence in terms of creative, insightful customization that will allow owners and analysts to get the most out of customer feedback.

NLP Has Limited Adaptation to Customer-Specific Topics

Customers may surprise us with “creative” answers they give to otherwise straightforward questions. For example, they may bring up an entirely new issue that hasn’t been addressed by any customer in the past.

In the case of open-ended questions (which should always be used for high-quality customer feedback), customers may provide feedback that doesn’t fit into a designated category – and could potentially be handled incorrectly by NLP.

Natural language processing

Human intelligence is sometimes required to help organize unique feedback that doesn’t otherwise easily fit into a category.

Ultimately, businesses who rely exclusively on NLP will miss out on some of the most valuable outcomes of gathering feedback – such as deep customer insights and accurate metrics (like CSAT and NPS).

And yet, NLP is still highly useful and efficient, and well worth investing in. Relying on the power of A.I., it helps to automate many of the aspects of processing customer feedback, which helps businesses to save valuable time, money and energy that can be used on other tasks.

Business owners are left with a conundrum:

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Have you taken a look at our free “Artificial Intelligence Q&A” yet?

Augmented Intelligence: Combing the Best of Both Worlds

Good news: There is a solution.

Augmented intelligence combines artificial intelligence with human intelligence to get the maximum benefits of both: The speedy, automated capabilities of A.I. with the creative, conscious, even emotional abilities of human intelligence.

In terms of processing customer feedback, businesses who want to use natural language processing to gather feedback on their websites can still do so. But by relying on augmented intelligence to organize and process this feedback, they’ll get a deeper level of actionable insight into what their customers think, need and want from their product or service.

Caplena makes this achievable by helping business owners and entrepreneurs to get the “best of both worlds.” Caplena uses augmented intelligence to perform customized categorization and high-level processing of open-ended feedback – allowing owners and analyze to problem-solve, improve their product or service and increase overall customer satisfaction.

Augmented intelligence also has exciting potential to “fill in the gaps” left by artificial intelligence in other industries, such as education and healthcare. For example, augmented intelligence might be used in education to give teachers insights into their students’ learning behaviors and capabilities; but, it won’t necessarily replace the teacher. It simply makes the teaching and learning process more efficient.

Ultimately, augmented intelligence is a more effective approach across multiple industries. While artificial intelligence is an exciting solution that offers increased efficiency and speed, it’s even better when it’s used in conjunction with human capabilities.

And by “better,” we mean a combined approach that produces more useful, cost-effective results, and ultimately progress towards improved education, more effective healthcare or a better product or service.

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