Users' smartphone activity heavily focuses on instant messaging services. This panorama, coupled with advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, has led to the appearance of chatbots: an intelligence software that we can interact with as if they were people to perform tasks, look up information, or answer our queries.
Chatbots are IT programs with which we can keep up a conversation. They tend to get stored in chats like Facebook Messenger, instant messaging services, or even on brand websites or applications. This way, if we want to book a flight on KLM, we can do so using their chatbot, and then receive information and updates about our trip using the same channel.
We can use chatbots to:
- Scan the Internet in search of information.
- Automate quick responses.
- Have conversations.
- Automatically correct information.
- Simulate social media followers.
- Perform virtual assistant duties.
But how are chatbots able to respond to all our questions and needs?
There are two powerful technologies behind this talking robot: Artificial Intelligence and machine learning, that allow for human interaction and for it to learn about our likes and preferences over time. Thanks to these advances, these systems have acquired a highly useful level of trust and sophistication for corporations.
Chatbots at the customer experience’s service
Forbes projects that 40% of firms will have or will start using chatbots at the end of 2019. Their progress related to Artificial Intelligence and natural language recognition will make it just about impossible to distinguish a chatbot from a conversation with a human, offering added-value to the service provided to customers. How? We’ll use them to give an immediate response to our consumers’ needs and provide them with useful information
Customer service chatbots
Chatbots are increasingly common in the customer service world due to their ability to offer immediate, efficient service once a customer gets in contact with the brand to bring up a complaint or to resolve a problem or question. They make it possible for companies to answer queries 24 hours a day, seven days a week in less time, and with few resources.
There are different types of chatbots, although the most common out there is a mix between the presence of a bot along with a human customer service agent. The machine tends to be the starting point for every interaction. Depending on the consultation, the bot will try to solve the problem with the information at its disposal, and should it be unable to its own; it will pass the incident to an agent able to resolve it.
This aspect is a critical one. Microsoft's 2018 State of Global Customer Service report highlights the fact that those firms that offer a positive customer service experience have higher loyalty rates and much higher retention rates.
Chatbots can also be a beneficial marketing and sales tool within e-commerce sites. Some brands are already developing software to meet these goals. Domino's Pizza created a bot that lets users only have to only write "pizza" on Facebook Messenger or ask for it on Google Home or Alexa for the delivery person to be ringing our doorbell in a matter of minutes. Or, for example, Ebay’s ShopBot that finds the product we’re looking for with just a photo or a name.
Bots at the service of the customer
There's also another type of bots out there that are more focused on providing a useful focus for users of a brand's products or services, or in other words, providing helpful information in real-time. An example of this kind of bot would be the KLM bot. They launched a bot on Facebook Messenger called BlueBot, or "BB" for short, with the mission of helping passengers book flights and keeping them updated with all the information about their flight status, the changes in their departure gate, and other data-based functions. They developed this bot with the aim of helping their support team manage more than 16,000 weekly interactions with passengers. During the first six months of operation, BB sent nearly 2 million messages to more than 500,000 passengers. KLM recently connected its chatbot to Google Home.
While 2019's projected to be the year chatbots expand, there is still a long road for them to go to gain wide acceptance among users. According to recent statistics from Econsultancy, 45% of consumers deem chatbots to be "intrusive," and 78% of them say that the problem with automated experiences is that they are too impersonal. It will, therefore, be especially critical to work to ensure the technology offers a pleasant and satisfying experience for users to get the most out of what chatbots can contribute to improving the overall customer experience.
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