Somewhere during mid-2016 Facebook & Kik launched their chatbots and the whole world went crazy about it. Ever since the launch, Facebook has become home to more than 100,000 active chatbots and kick to more than 20,000. There are other players too. Like IBM and Microsoft who have released exclusive platforms to build chatbots.
So, what is a chatbot and why is it so hyped?
To begin with, Chatbots are computer programs that give automated responses to queries. They make routine conversations that involve fetching of information as addressal of commonly asked questions easier and effortless. Needless to say, they are of great use in industries and processes where automated assistance or customer service is important.
What technology powers the functioning of chatbots?
Chatbots are powered by Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. They learn, adapt and suit their responses dynamically according to the user queries. What differentiates chatbots from live chat or other virtual assistants is that, they do not give canned or repetitive information.
They take in the user query, analyze it and fetch a suitable response from the data repository they are connected to. In other words, the long wait for a customer care representative to come and talk to you is no longer needed. An intelligent computer application that knows what you like, what you want and your preferences is here tot ake care of things.
Most Popular Chatbots of the world
Chatbots have great applications in customer-centric industries like travel, banking, eCommerce, news & media, productivity, etc.
VentureBeat did a survey of the most popular chatbots of 2016 and came up with a list.
Instalocate has the record of putting several international travelers at ease. The chatbot does the task of helping travelers track their journey on real-time, helps resolve compensation issues, deals with comparing & finding the cheapest flight ticket and much more which otherwise takes a mountain of man hours to do on your own.
Foxsy is a social chatbot. It makes meaningful connections between two people by showing matches that best suit the criteria input given by the user. Foxsy looks within the immediate social circles of the user to identify perfect matches.
Imagine a virtual shop assistant who can sense and suggest fashion that you would love to buy. Well, chatShopper is just that. It is voted as one of the best eCommerce chatbots of 2016 for its smart and accurate fashion responses.
Business benefits of chatbots
Fun apart, there are quite a lot of business benefits that chatbots offer.
Businesses no longer have to spend long hours explaining products or attending frequently added questions. Chatbots can give a personalized and accurate auto-response.
Compared to the costs of employing dozens of customer support staffs you can employ a single chatbot that can handle the same if not double the traffic of queries effectively.
Chatbots are efficient at delivering accurate responses, far better than humans thanks to their machine learning capabilities.
Chatbots can be rightly called error-free since they work on algorithms and programs and are not driven by emotional impulses as is the case with most human service professionals.
Industries where chatbots can be of use
Chatbots can stir a revolution in several industries where conventional service models are inadequate.
In retail, chatbots can take the place of virtual assistants who can give customers product suggestions, delivery tracking, returns management, top offers, recent product arrivals, and much more. It cuts down the customer’s effort to into customer service section and enter multiple order numbers to find just one information. An intelligent chatbot can help deliver all such information easily.
A chatbot in the banking industry can help account holders to seek and find real-time account balances, last 10 transactions, credit card dues, due dates and much more. Secondly, advanced chatbots can also be programmed to give stock analysis and Interest/RoI calculations to make wise financial decisions.
In the logistics package visibility is a pivotal factor. Customers want to stay informed about the progress of their package delivery on a real-time basis. While it doesn’t make sense to call the customer service all the time, a chatbot that can give instant location tracking is a dream come true. Secondly, they can also be connected with moving calculators to help customers estimate the exact amount required for moving or delivering consignments from one location to another.
Travel & Hospitality
Chatbot travel agents will revolutionize the way we plan, coordinate and travel across the world. Virtual chatbot agents can help travelers find accommodation or restaurants on the go and that too at cheapest prices. Instalocate is a classic example that we cited before.
Chatbots can boost office productivity significantly. From managing leave calendars to reminding on meeting appointments, chatbots will take over a large chunk of mundane and routine work that is presently done by humans. Furthermore, they can be integrated with third-party integrations like Slack, Skype, Messenger, etc. which will tale automation and collaboration to a whole new level.
Brigning it all together
The future of chatbots has arrived. This smart & intelligent beings will take away the pain and confusion in customer service and give a whole new meaning to convenience. Expect them to see everywhere, including mobile apps, websites and even in your office collaboration tools.
Hi Megha, while you are right with the business benefits that you mention these are not the main benefits – or at least not the right view on them. Chatbots, as well as other customer facing technologies should be deployed to improve the experience that a customer gets, in other words, to be able to deliver benefits to customers. This outside-in view is far more important than the inside-out view of value that you present.
2 ct from Down Under