Communication is one of the most important aspects of human lives. These, which happen mostly in the form of verbal or written conversations drive relationships and even businesses.
For a business, conversations are crucial drivers of sales. Every customer wants to know more about a product/service offered by a company. There’s a lot of information a consumer must know that isn’t readily available on a website/app. This is the gap that has been filled by customer support services from the inception till the closure of every business that has been established to date.
Until now, it was human customer support employees that dealt with the grievances of customers through mediums such as email and voice chat. That has changed with the introduction of chatbots.
As per a report by VentureBeat, the market for chatbot development is expected to exceed $1.24 Billion by the year 2024. If that alone isn’t a telltale sign, another Gartner report estimates that by 2020, customers will be able to manage 85 percent of their interactions with businesses without the need for human intervention.
So what do chatbots mean for customer services? Does it signal a future where human customer services won’t be needed? Or would chatbots become something that compliments human customer support? We don’t know a sure shot answer to these questions, but analyzing the current trends might give us some insights into what can possibly happen in the future.
Chatbots as an app interface
All of us are familiar with smartphones and a lot of us have tons of apps installed on them. It is expected that users will download over 258 billion apps on their portable devices by the year 2022.
Mobile apps, desktop apps, and web apps- all these serve as an interactive medium for businesses and customers to interact with each other. However, an evolution of chatbots could change the way how apps work.
For instance, take the current trends in App UI design for example. Every app has a UI designed with a style of menu’s dropdown lists and a ton of other design elements that help users understand or purchase any products/services offered by a business.
But navigating through these interfaces can be tedious when users are looking for something hidden inside layers of dropdown menus. This is the reason why chatbots are considered as a highly probable replacement of traditional app interfaces.
I must clarify that such considerations are not new, in fact- such use cases for chatbots have been put across by experts and customers for many years now. Today, chatbot apps are accessed in two forms. One is through integrated chatbots in online platforms such as Facebook and Kik, and the other through completely dedicated apps which use chatbots instead of a traditional interface. Examples of the latter include apps such as Quartz brief, which deliver the latest news to readers in a text conversation-based format.
Integrating chatbots with the smartphone assistants
Voice-assisted smartphone assistants have been a buzzword in the portable devices industry for the past couple of years. As per the same Gartner report mentioned earlier, it is estimated that 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020.
This is because of voice assistants powered by machine learning and neural language processing networks (NLPs). The top players in this game- Google assistant, Amazon Alexa, and Apple’s Siri have established themselves so well that businesses are now looking to integrate their own chatbot services into them.
Several companies are already leveraging Google assistant’s actions services to develop bots for assisting customers with their needs. This, similar to bots on Facebook- is a good way to develop brand value without investing heavily on dedicated chatbot apps.
The future of chatbots in Customer services
The idea of chatbots as a messenger for a business is good. But the idea for it to serve as a brand ambassador might be the next step towards revolutionizing customer services. Highly intelligent and sophisticated chatbots could allow users to fetch just about any information, from vacancies to discounts offered on products/services from an assistant representing the company.
This is one of the main reasons why chatbot development services are in such a huge demand today. Organizations are just beginning to think of chatbots as virtual brand ambassadors for their product/services. Such a use case makes them an excellent marketing tool besides being an interactive medium of communication between customers and business.
As I mentioned in the beginning, conversations are what drive sales for a business. While human customer services have definitely been a great medium for the same, but chatbots simply outmatch them on several aspects, some of which include:
- Availability: Chatbots provide 24/7 support.
- Delivery of information: Chatbots can process input and deliver relevant information to users within mere seconds.
- Context-based service: While humans are the best source for customers to have context-based conversations with a business, the progress in machine learning services and development, along with NLP is moving chatbots dangerously closer towards conversing in a context-based manner.