( Estimated reading time: 4 min )
A chatbot is a service powered by algorithms and sometimes a high degree of artificial intelligence, that can interact via an interface. It’s a virtual assistant and can be functional or fun. Chatbots can be used on any website or major social network platforms.
Chatbots aren’t suited to all kinds of business, so the first question to consider is: would a chatbot be appropriate to your business? As a general rule, the more complex your company’s interaction is with customers, the less likely it is that a chatbot would be of any benefit. A firm of solicitors or accountants, for example, would probably not find a chatbot helpful and their customers may even find it a hindrance. But where customer questions are likely to be fairly mundane for the most part, a good chatbot can improve the customer experience.
Any automation of customer service systems will benefit a business by reducing costs but it must not become a false economy, where it discourages customers. As a streamlining tool, customers appreciate something which will save them time. A new customer will spend only a short period of time when first considering your website. If there are lots of options and menus, they may be put off it. If a chatbot can help them navigate and find what they want, they will engage with it. A chatbot when it is well-integrated can generate a lot of new business.
“The level of help which a chatbot can deliver depends highly on its programming”
An example of a useful chatbot might be a company selling holidays: a customer comes along and they know roughly what they’re looking for. They have a budget, dates and some ideas about where they’d like to go. There are many options and it’s a competitive market so the holiday company wants to engage the customer early on and follow that through to a sale. With such an abundance of choices, a customer may not stay for long. So what if a chatbot opens up and asks: “Can I help you?” The level of help which a chatbot can deliver depends highly on its programming. If it’s been fed with data on the available holiday’s offers being sold, a simple chatbot will be able to assist the customer. It will be programmed to ask about budget, preferred destination, the length of stay and size of the party. If the customer answers these queries through the chat interface, the bot will be able to make recommendations on holiday’s offers for them. With some additional artificial intelligence, a good chatbot will be able to suggest alternatives. A chatbot could close a sale, and even up-sell.
So where customer interactions are limited in scope, like in the above example, a chatbot can benefit a business. They are cheaper than human staff, they can be more efficient, and even more profitable if they are used correctly. For more complex interactions, artificial intelligence isn’t there yet. And there will always be those who prefer contact with a real human. Indeed, there may come a point during a customer’s interaction with a chatbot, where the chatbot is unable to help them with something outside of its parameters. Therefore, it is important to have a “Call for assistance” function in any chatbot. At any point during the conversation with a chatbot, the customer can request this option and be transferred to a human operator.
There are many predictions how jobs will be replaced by AI in the near future. They range from technical support roles to a cab driver. Do you think AI will affect your industry and jobs functions similar to yours? Feel to free let me know in the comment section below.
P.S if you like the robot picture then please support unsplash photographer Siyan Ren 🙂