New feature release – user authentication in virtual assistants

One of the recent product features we’re proud of at AlphaBlues is the ability to authenticate users and provide detailed answers for the users. It is a new and exciting feature that allows our customers to offer a personalized level of support to their users through virtual assistants much like human customer support agents can.

In the previous post we highlighted how the lifecycle of virtual assistants is evolving throughout time. Those companies that have high chat conversations volume on a monthly basis and innovation capacity are seeking more and more for virtual assistants to actually conduct activities out on behalf of the users.  

Personalized and authenticated virtual assistants are on the rise. How do they work?

In a traditional chat automation environment, you have a virtual assistant (VA) that is having a conversation with a human. The user for the VA is anonymous, meaning that the VA does not know the name or identity of the user. This is the case with website based virtual assistants but also with Facebook Messenger VAs. Even if the VA knows the first and last name of the user from Facebook, it does not mean authentication because ultimately it is the company (i.e. the service provider) on whose behalf the VA is having the conversation with users that has to identify the user against its own database.

How does authentication work? In our case the way it works is that when the user asks a query that requires a transactional element to be executed (e.g. “What is the balance of my invoice?”), our Natural Language Processing chat server determines that this query requires authentication. As a next step the user is directed to the company’s (e.g. a telecom company) authentication system where the user will log in with the regular authentication method given by the service provider (e.g. ID card, mobile ID, username/password). After that the AlphaBlues server gets an access token from the company, which is stored with the user session. This way a link has been made between the user and the company.

When the user is asking for their invoice balance, then the chat server is sending that request directly to the company’s API where, the company verifies the validity of the access token. Once the token is validated, the transaction is carried out on the company’s side. After that the information regarding the balance is passed to the chat server via HTTPS and then displayed as confirmation to the user in the chat interface (e.g. “Your balance is €38.24”).

Such a system enables to use the full functionality of the company’s API in allowing the user to execute a wide variety of commands without the need for being in touch with human customer support agents. What’s best is that the user in this case has a simple interface with which it can access its information and conduct transactions without bothering to log into self service environments on websites or call human support.

It provides for a quick and easy way for accessing data and conducting transactions. This simple technical overview is a quick glance of how the authentication works. If you have interest in authenticated solutions, do get in touch at indrek (at) alphablues (dot) com

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