There has been a lot of progress within the customer interaction space. This includes both in the skill sets for customer service personnel, and in the development of chatbots that mimic human conversations. The chatbots are built upon artificial intelligence technologies. Massive paradigm shifts have already occurred in how customers interact with businesses, and now chatbots seem to be the next big thing in this sphere.
Indeed, the future seems to point towards bots all the way. Brands, feeling the pressure to provide the best customer care, have launched chatbots on their business platforms to handle customer queries better.
Facebook acquired AI startup Ozlo last year to help provide their users with a smoother experience when interacting with brands or services on their platform. Google recently acquired Onward, a San Francisco-based artificial intelligence chatbot startup, as part of a continued effort to expand their reach into AI for contact center solutions.
Google and Facebook are not the only ones; according to a VentureBeat report, the global chatbot market is expected to exceed $1.34 billion by 2024.
Looking at the big picture, it seems that we’ll probably welcome our bot overlords sooner than we expected — or will we? We’ve survived the black plague, what’s a couple of bots?
Chatbots have the ability to crunch up data, perform calculations in the power of tens of thousands and provide you with an answer in a matter of seconds.
These chatbots are good for repetitive jobs that involve simple questions and tasks. They will never experience the fatigue that affects humans, so they’ll never lower work productivity and efficiency. Their ability to constantly be in work mode is a game changer and it definitely gives rise to numerous opportunities; think of the energizer bunny that keeps on going, going, going.
The wonder of the chatbots allow us to remove expensive, cranky humans from customer interaction platforms and substitute them with perpetually enthusiastic robot friends. These friends want the best for us (and their company) and will work diligently without ever asking for a pay raise or day off.
How Chatbots are Helping Businesses
Many start-ups and savvy companies are in a quest to cut operational costs. They are now incorporating interactive agents into their daily operations, communication with customers and sales processes.
The ways that chatbots help businesses include:
- Improve customer service
This option is especially good for those companies that don’t want their customers to take too long searching for information on their FAQs section by scrolling dozens of pages.
- Automate online purchases
Chatbots remember your purchasing history and preferences and will automatically provide you with suggestions, or even send your preferred payment method to the sales department without you having to repeat that information again.
- Better customer communication
Customers are more inclined to remain loyal to brands that pay them attention. And chatbots can give customers all the attention they want. Chatbots can provide individual assistance, answering each question as it comes. This personalized treatment tends to please customers a lot, making them likelier to continue being a customer.
- Improve response rates
Chatbots are able to respond to every single message, no matter how mundane. This high response rate greatly increases the chances of converting visitors into buyers. When your employees are occupied or offline, chatbots can step in and offer quick responses to inquiring customers.
So, Will Chatbots Replace Humans?
If there’s one thing humans are good at, it’s understanding different human sentiments.
Our biggest advantage over bots is our innate emotional intelligence. Millions of years of evolution have given us the ability to read tone, language, and emotion in human speech. Bots might mimic human conversation, but they struggle to truly comprehend it. As of now, chatbots haven’t reached the stage where they can accurately understand tone and context. It will definitely take some time before bots can correctly interpret human emotion.
For the humans on the other end, it gets frustrating dealing with a bot who only offers a few options in an infinite loop. Currently, most bots still redirect conversations to human agents for further assistance; they aren’t at the stage where they can handle complex queries all by themselves.
What do the numbers say?
Statistics seem to swing favourably on the side of the bots, according to this comprehensive SurveyMonkey report. A Gartner report predicted that by 2020, customers will manage 85 percent of their relationship with their business without interacting with a human at any one time during the whole process.
Oracle reports that at least 8 out of 10 businesses have already implemented or are planning to adopt artificial intelligence as a customer service solution by 2020.
The numbers definitely reflect an upward rise in the use of chatbots, as more mainstream businesses recognize their potential.
Even as the debate continues to rage over whether customers prefer bots or fellow human beings, we can’t deny that artificial intelligence is going to play a big role in the way businesses interact and engage with their customers.
In the last few years, companies in various industries have successfully implemented chatbots alongside their work processes with amazing results.
Overall, chatbot technology looks very promising, but humans still prefer to speak to a fellow human on the other end of the connectivity. Humans will always crave someone with the ability to empathize with them. This includes the capacity to read between the lines and connect on an emotional level.
Notwithstanding the current, scarily efficient bots — humans will always remain a formidable foe in the battle for the best customer service experience.