Think about your most recent interaction with a business online. Did you chat via message with a person? Are you sure?
It’s highly possible you were speaking to a chatbot, a computer program designed to interact with customers using messaging apps and online interfaces. These bots use artificial intelligence to create fast, efficient and helpful customer experiences. If you’re just getting your head around chatbot technology, here are some interesting things to know:
Bots are riding the messaging app wave
According to Chatbots Magazine, people now use messaging apps more than they use social media. Facebook Messenger, Slack, Whatsapp and the like are used billions of times every day.
Big brands are now realising the opportunities that come with joining these spaces. For example, a hotel chatbot can book you a room via Facebook Messenger, recommending the best rates and suggesting a late checkout. The transaction is simple and cost effective for both parties.
The numbers are impressive
There are already more than 100,000 chatbots on Facebook, being used by people in more than 200 countries.
Some more figures to get excited about:
- Facebook claims more than half of their 2 billion messenger users say they are more likely to do business with a business that can message
- According to Hubspot, 47% of consumers would buy items from a chatbot and 57% of consumers are interested in chatbots for the instant service they provide
- Juniper Research predicts that by the year 2020 chatbots will save businesses 70 cents per customer transaction. This will add up to a total of $8 billion in cost savings globally.
Technology is improving
Nobody wants to constantly be re-phrasing their questions to a chatbot. However, thanks to ever-better design and implementation, chatbots are becoming smarter and more reliable.
Accenture suggests chatbots are already able to resolve 80% of customer chat sessions. Because the artificial intelligence bots rely on is capable of learning as it goes, the number of queries being resolved is growing every day.
As technology improves, error rates diminish. For example, IBM recently reached 5.5 percent error rate in AI word recognition, up from 6.9 percent the year before.
Consumers like chatbots…
We all want our problems to be solved as quickly as possible. A survey by Aspect found 71% of consumers are looking to resolve their issues without the help of another person. More than 60 percent of respondents claimed chatbots are friendly, easy to use and fast.
If you are able to use a chatbot and save yourself from having to navigate your way through a website and fill out multiple forms just to book a rental car or order a pizza, this is only a good thing.
…most of the time!
Aspect’s report also found a high number of consumers expect an option to still be able to speak to a live agent.
At present, businesses can look to save money by implementing chatbot technology. However, a hybrid customer care solution is still your best bet to keep customer satisfaction at high levels.
Your business can start using bots today
There are dozens of companies offering chatbot technology to businesses of all sizes. These agencies will help you form a strategy, build a solution and even provide you and your team with training.
Run a chatbot pilot, test ROI and measure changes to customer satisfaction. You may be surprised at how much of an impact this technology can have.
The possibilities are endless
Good chatbots are a combination of artificial intelligence, good looking user interface and well thought out integration. Once organisations have these factors right, they are able to tap into the potential of what a chatbot can really do.
We’re looking at a future where your chatbot can help you select the right shade of lipstick or shirt size by connecting to your phone’s camera. It will also be able to remember what you bought last time and make recommendations based on this.
More importantly, chatbots will be capable of diagnosing illness and recommending treatments, saving money and lives in the process.
Bots + voice assistants = big things to come
What is perhaps most exciting is a future where digital voice assistants like Siri and Amazon’s Alexa can interact with chatbots to make the customer experience better than ever.
Imagine telling Siri to find out if your favourite store has a certain pair of boots in your size. Simply put the question to her and she will connect with a bot and find you the answer.
This can extend beyond a basic retail experience to booking dental appointments, managing your finances and even getting a rundown on the vital statistics of your SME.
Chatbots, artificial intelligence and voice activated assistants are fuelling the fourth industrial revolution, a period of great change which will affect all industries. From a marketing, customer care and even operations perspective, there is enormous potential for businesses of all sizes to drastically reinvent themselves for the better.
About the author
Dale Beaumont is the founder and CEO of BRiN, the world’s first artificially intelligent business advisor. Available as a smartphone app the company’s goal is to provide personalised education and human-like support to millions of entrepreneurs, all at the same time.