Chatbots are the true modern manifestations of Artificial intelligence (AI.) Thanks to their self-learning capabilities and easy interaction with humans in a natural way we see a rise in business applications where chatbots can be the pillars of customer interaction. In a world where artificial intelligence is continuously evolving and becoming more accurate and sophisticated, it will lay the groundwork for chatbots to expand their range covering a much wider spectrum of applications in the future.
While chatbots are at the top of their game thanks to their easy to use interface, advancements in AI, and effective integration systems, the potential of the industry is not yet fully unpacked to be able to totally replace human resources in terms of customer service.
More time, hard work, investments, and research are required in important fields such as language understanding and flow-based conversations, compared to “single-shot’ dialogues with users for maximizing the effective use of chatbots in customer interaction. In this aspect, we want to discuss the recent news and developments in the industry for chatbot technology and provide you with a guide on how to understand, use, and benefit from the rising fame of chatbots.
Let’s start with a simple definition of what chatbots are.
What is a chatbot?
To put it simply, a chatbot offers a conversational experience with the use of artificial intelligence and natural language processing to be able to imitate conversations with real people as customers. Chatbots are computer programs with which you can talk to, through messaging apps, chat windows, or in recent years increasingly through voice.
In other words, we can think of chatbots as a combination of three important parts which are the following.
This is basically the interface between a human user and the chatbot, which mainly happens through a messaging chat or a chat session on a website. Interestingly, the UI part of chatbots increasingly uses voice search to understand what a user is searching for, examples of which can be Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, and more.
One of the important aspects of chatbots is that through artificial intelligence they are able to learn from each customer interaction. Although nowadays most problem-solving in chatbots is done through predefined rules, machine learning can take the customer interaction to a whole new level, making them more adaptive to the way real humans interact and mimic their emotions to a very near binary.
However, until we reach the point where chatbots can handle more complex conversations and human interactions without the intervention of experts and professionals for pre-defined answers, they will still be a great alternative in areas with relatively simpler interactions and in answering common requests defined by experts.
Thanks to integration chatbots they not only access the management system of a company but can also access information through several sources. Now, it is possible to connect chatbots to multiple databases to feed from which results in more effective and human-like responses.
Your chatbot can access systems such as the following and more:
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Applications
- Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems
- Content Management Systems (CMS)
- Enterprise Content Management Systems (ECM) and more.
Chatbots and The World Of Customer Service
There are various reasons explaining the rising fame of chatbots within customer service. One of the primary challenges in customer service is to find a perfect balance between service quality and service efficiency. Furthermore, in this aspect, any solution with increased time-efficiency, enhanced customer experience, and reduced cost has the potential to dominate the industry.
Noticeably, studies suggest that chatbots can decrease current global business costs of around $1.3 trillion which are related to approximately 265 billion customer service inquiries by up to 30% yearly. Moreover, chatbots can also deal with up to 80% of current routine questions.
If this hasn’t got you excited yet, keep in mind that by 2022 chatbots are expected to save businesses around $8 billion per year in customer support related costs. This is an outstanding improvement from the estimated $20 million for 2017.
Hence, chatbots have a great promise to become the dominant solution in the industry, thanks to their potential of being fast, cost-effective, and convenient solutions ready to support customers 24/7.
Additional note from Digilite: The future is truly promising for the chatbot industry. However, while being overwhelmed by the exciting news over how much chatbots can save for your business, and how they can operate 24/7 you should also remember that customers do not always fully appreciate self-service channels, and often prefer very personalized attention that chatbots are not able to provide in the time being.
This is why, while investing more in the chatbot industry might be a great idea, you should not entirely switch to self-service solutions for customer relationships yet.
Ending on a positive note: Chatbots have the potential of becoming highly personalized customer service agents in the future and completing the usual tasks previously done by human service staff. But until then, you should wait and continue to appreciate your human resources.
Primary Benefits Of Chatbots:
Apart from the above-mentioned statistics on the potential future of chatbots, there are still various ways that chatbots can benefit your business today.
- They can provide 24-hour availability: Customers do not like to wait to find the most basic answers to their questions. The situation is even worse with frustrated customers.
In this aspect, waiting until the next available operator seems not to be the best-case scenario. Fortunately, chatbots are the closest candidates that can help solve this problem.
Chatbots offer a 24/7 response system, thus also providing continued communication between your business and your customers.
- Chatbots can provide instant answers: Typically, operators are able to focus on one customer at a time. On the other hand, chatbots can answer thousands of questions at the same time. Chatbots can provide instant responses to multiple customers thanks to the internet, software mechanisms, and the speed of the cloud.
- They can be programmable: Chatbots can be automated for common tasks such as providing advanced search functionality, guiding your customers, arranging meetings, and many more. Depending on the specifications of the company’s customer service functionality, chatbots can be easily automated to conduct a series of activities to solve the main problem.
- Chatbots have endless patience: While customer representatives and customers can be very frustrated from time to time and often lose their patience depending on a problem, chatbots do not face such a problem. In this aspect, dealing with frustration in a calm, positive way can be the key to solving the problem and reaching customer satisfaction. Unfortunately, human nature is less reliable in this aspect compared to chatbots.
If we dig deeper in the benefits of chatbots for your business, rather than for directly your customer the list of benefits will expand to:
- Chatbots are cost-saving: Chatbots can handle more and more complex queries solving cost-effective problems in customer service departments.
- Chatbots can result in increased sales: Besides their 24/7 availability that can boost your sales, chatbots can also be a great platform to present users with various recommendations, effectively introducing users with new products and services.
- Chatbots can increase customer interaction: Chatbots are able to provide real-time customer interaction with instant response to customers’ questions, also providing various guides and suggestions.
- Chatbots can help reach new customers: Facebook Messenger can be a great example of using chatbots for reaching out to new customers. This and other similar platforms are great alternatives in cases when people do not want to reach out to companies via email or a call.
If you are already overwhelmed by the outstanding benefits of chatbots and would like to create your own one, make sure to check out Digilite’s guide on building your own chatbot.
Different Types Of Chatbots
Interestingly, there is no clear distinguishing point between Chatbots and Virtual agents, as they both mainly operate within a large range of complexity in not only dialog but also processes. Both sides of the spectrum have valuable applications. In the picture below you can see two examples of chatbot applications of different complexity and intelligence.
As shown in the picture above, after the user’s intent chatbot links the question to a standardized answer, by providing extra information for improved customer experience.
While in the second example shown above we can see a more complex communication system through a chatbot use. After the user’s intent, chatbots recognize the recipient, the description, and other details of the user. Following this, based upon the recognized entities the chatbot asks for confirmation. It also asks for the details on the account the money should be transferred, and completes the process.
This is a clear example that chatbots also come in various degrees of intelligence and range from answering questions to having the full capabilities of an employee. You should pick the right level of intelligence depending on the use case matching your company’s marketing and sales objectives.
A support chatbot is a simple form of chatbots used to answer basic customer questions. Its applications vary from online customer support to customer engagement activities using messengers. More complex applications involve utilizing artificial intelligence along with machine learning to handle more complex interactions.
They typically use your existing resources and information, like knowledge-based articles, FAQ’s and more, to be able to effectively resolve all of your customer’s questions.
Support Chatbots can also recognize and answer various forms of the same question and can be automated and trained to give instant responses using your preferred language, and tone of voice.
FAQ Chatbots are probably the most simple form of Chatbots, which can bring plenty of value to customer service that is also considered to support chatbots. This type can understand questions and give the user the most relevant answer.
How can your business benefit from it? Self-learning Chatbots placed on a webpage can decrease the number of phone calls to a service desk dramatically answering the most frequently asked questions.
You can use support chatbots in the following scenarios:
- If you have a global, growing base of customers, that highly requires multi-lingual support.
- If you need support in multiple channels like social media, website and more
- If you do not have a support team available 24/7.
- If you need to find more efficient ways to manage your customer support and need a cost-saving alternative.
This type of bots are usually single-turn-type bots, meaning they do not require a lot of contextual awareness. They are mainly designed with an intent to make life easier with commands such as “Open the garage door” or “Play me a classical song” and more.
Assistant Chatbots can be considered as the middle ground between the other two, as they require a little bit of information from different topics. Siri can be a great example of a current popular use of assistant chatbots. These types of bots can as well be the future of our daily life, with taking care of our daily activities to even paying bills and more.
At the same time, they are expected to become a powerful marketing platform.
Virtual Assistant Chatbot:
With slightly higher intelligence comes Virtual Assistant, which has more integration with enterprise systems and therefore can perform basic actions, such as looking up personal information. These fall under the category of assistant chatbots.
How can your business benefit from it? Virtual Assistants decrease service desk workload by, for example, looking up vacation days of an employee, or enabling an employee to buy vacation days through the Chatbot. Pretty cool right?
Virtual Agent Chatbot:
The most intelligent Chatbots are Virtual Agents, which can completely replace an employee. These bots can handle the most complex dialogs, processes, and security protocols.
How can your business benefit from it? Virtual Agents can handle complex processes, such as walking a client through making a bank transfer or making changes to their personal information, effectively replacing an employee.
Chatbots obviously play a major role in the modern customer experience world. Thanks to the advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) , easy to use interface, and well-designed integration, we will witness a rise in the use of chatbots. Chatbots can handle complex customer service processes saving you time and resources and keeping your company’s image as an advanced and technology-driven one. If you are still hesitant about the implementation of chatbots in your customer services, this is the right time to make up your mind and keep up with the expanding world of digital solutions and chatbots.