What do Siri, Alexa and Google have in common? They are three of the most popular classifications of chatbots. Essentially, a chatbot is a piece of programming that understands multiple methods of communication and produces a result.
You probably talk to a chatbot on a regular basis if you use all of the functions on your phone.
Although the algorithms and programs of these chatbots are not perfect, the technology is rapidly advancing. The artificial intelligence behind these platforms is becoming quite intuitive.
What does this mean for the future of business interaction? To put it bluntly, higher profitability. Here are a few reasons why I believe chatbots are going to be the future for engaging consumers.
Stronger Connections to Users
Approximately 92 percent of customers are more satisfied by using live chat than other forms of communication. While things like voice, email, website contact forms and social media are still important, it’s the overall engagement chat brings to the table which wins over the masses. But does that mean chatbots are received in the same way?
While there may never be anything better than speaking to a real human, chatbots are far more versatile and efficient when it comes to quickly retrieving answers to questions. In a world where a vast portion of the populace wants “it” now, a well-developed chatbot can oblige.
Interaction is an effective method of connecting to a target audience. This is why businesses that comment and reply to messages on social media have a stronger and more loyal following in many cases. Interactive chatting is just another platform that gives people that sense of direct communication.
Nearly two out of three consumers are likely to spend more money with a company that offers a superior customer service. Engaging people through a chatbot is just one of those methods that offer a greater experience. Thanks to fast responses and integration, customers have potential to get what they want when they want it.
Some are hesitant when it comes to things like voice recognition. It may be a bit intimidating to have an inanimate object speaking to you. However, that device may provide far more answers and be better equipped to handle certain situations than most people when you voice-call a customer support representative.
Easier to Implement
One of the biggest reasons why so many businesses are turning to chatbot technology is because of how easy it is to implement. In many cases, all it takes is a simple install on the website and visitors are able to interact. While it’s true that some platforms may be more elaborate than others, the overall installation process is quite nominal.
Chatbots are constantly evolving. As a result, updates are often pushed out to these applications to make them more accurate and intuitive. Essentially, an update can affect all units from a single developer. However, humans require far more training time to perform similar tasks.
This is not to mention the overhead expenses of maintaining a workforce for simple customer interaction.
As a result, chatting applications are far easier to implement on various systems. Instead of relying on a queue as experienced in many human-based live chat programs, a bot is active for each individual user. In essence, a single chatbot plugin used in WordPress web hosting has the capacity to service every visitor simultaneously.
The interest is so incredibly high for using chatbots today that the Internet is full of places where you can start building your own. For example, Pandorabots is a place where you can create an API for a custom bot whether it’s for a website or a smartphone app.
As the interest continues to grow, I am almost certain that more development platforms to make it easy to implement artificial intelligence will be deployed in the very near future. Just look at MIT’s App Inventor for Android devices and other self-building app tools. People will pay for quick and easy solutions.
High Return on Investment
One of the most obvious benefits for driving chatbot use is the return-on-investment ratio. Remember, people are more willing to hand over money for an excellent customer experience. The cost of deploying a bot may be nominal compared to what it could generate in terms of income and sales.
As I mentioned earlier, programs for communication do not require overhead expenses like employees. Office space, insurance, health expenses, payroll and vacation time are just some of the costs that go into keeping an employee to answer customer questions. This doesn’t include training and hiring procedures.
Even if you outsource live chat, it’s still an expense that can be eliminated with a properly-developed AI. Instead of the human element delivering a variable experience each time a customer is engaged with a contact center agent, each interaction is near identical.
The exceptional level of the ROI is part of what drives 80 percent of businesses to want chatbots available for customers by 2020. In fact, a lot of businesses may even see potential savings close to 38 percent of their annual expenses. Of course this is also dependent on the industry and type of business that you operate. Some may even see a savings of more than 50 percent.
The bottom line is that automated systems cost less to maintain overall than a manned system. This has been a fact of industrial existence since the early 1900s. As a result, businesses are able to funnel money into other areas to boost business holdings and marketing platforms.
The driving forces behind the AI in chatbots are extremely versatile and flexible. The programming itself is usable in a wide range of products from tablets to websites. Virtually any platform you want to use it in, the application can accommodate.
Some of the variables that make chatbots flexible include:
- Ever-advancing databases.
- The capacity to become multi-lingual.
- Using a universal platform which allows anyone to access regardless of device or browser brand.
- Fast adaptation and learning the more people use it.
- Can enhance any industry and business dynamic.
Voice recognition for many of these applications is geared to understanding the difference in language pronunciations as well as dialects and accents. The Google Home device does exceptionally well when trying to decipher mispronunciations of topics. This may be caused by the sheer amount of use the platform receives. Remember…these devices are constantly learning.
Flexibility to understand human interaction delivers optimal results with less confusion. Although the technology is far from being a perfect replica of human interaction, some algorithms are superior than others. Whether it’s a typed phrase or spoken aloud, chatbots boost consumer engagement.
Another method many businesses are using is by combining several elements of an organization into a single chatbot. For instance, you can incorporate communications from customer support and sales into a single application. Instead of two or more individual segments, all answers can be handled by one entity.
Faster Data Retrieval
The most obvious advantage to using a chatbot is the ability to access data almost instantly. No matter how fast a person’s computer is, that individual will never be able to access data and relay communications as fast as a bot. That’s only because the programming is operating faster than humans can type on a keyboard.
Here’s an example of what I’m talking about. Ask your phone a question and see how fast the answer is provided. Could you look it up faster if you were to jump on a web browser and look up the information? Unless you’re Mavis Beacon, the fictional character who has taught millions how to type, the chances are remote.
Chatbots are capable of using stored answers within their own algorithms while at the same time access content on the Internet. Take Google and Siri for example. Although both of these systems use device integrated technology, they can access the Internet and pull answers in mere seconds.
What does speed have to do with the customer experience? Everything. For instance, websites that take longer than three seconds to load will lose traffic as people start to abandon those pages. This is because we live in an age of instant online gratification. The faster a customer receives an answer, the better the experience.
It’s true that hardware specifications for a device play into the speed of chatbots and algorithms. However, the calculations performed allow even the slowest of devices to prove effective versus actual human interaction. But please, don’t dust off those Windows 95 computers just yet. They are still quite obsolete.
Ever-Advancing Artificial Intelligence
Bots have been around since the early days of computing. After all, the “Eliza” program was developed in the early 1960s for psychoanalysis. However, algorithms and technology have advanced greatly over the last few decades. Applications have evolved into far more robust programs than their predecessors as the development curve continues to grow.
The usefulness of AI is such that inspires developers to continue making advancements. This means bots and apps continue to gain abilities with each new version. This involves everything from predictive conclusions to analyzing voice patterns.
Do you think the voice recognition software in Windows Vista is comparable to Siri? In the grand scheme of things, probably not. Most notably because they are two completely separate applications with different functionality. Vista wasn’t developed to “understand” what you were saying…only accept predefined commands.
And this is what leads us to artificial intelligence. It’s not really smart design to simply show words you are speaking or adhere to commands. It’s the prospect of knowing what you’re looking for even if you mispronounce the word.
Over time, many of these chatbots know what you you’re looking for thanks to predictive algorithms. What does this improve for chatbots and marketing? By giving customers exactly what they want before they even know what that is.
Using AI to drive programs works to improve customer demand as well as the overall experience. Some of these apps are developed so well that a lot of people don’t know they are chatting with a bot in the beginning of the conversation. In reality, many customers will be none-the-wiser until they ask something the bot was not prepared for.
Capacity for Multimodal Communication
An advanced chatbot is capable of communicating in a wide range of modes. Whether it is voice, typed or emailed, these applications are capable of interacting with consumers on all levels. In reality, it’s all nothing more than “input” to a program.
From a business perspective, this can save a lot of money when it comes to chatbots and marketing. Social media responses, email correspondence, website chat and more are all accessible through the right bots. These operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week without getting tired or needing rest.
How many employees do you have who are this dedicated?
Multimodal communication is nothing new. A lot of call centers have been using something similar for decades now. How often have you made a phone call and had to speak your commands? If the system isn’t understanding you, it’s time to press some buttons. The system is designed to understand verbal and direct phone input.
Today, many bots can handle the job of several different departments within a business. More than 30,000 bots are used on Facebook to engage people while simultaneously accepting payments. And this is only a small fraction of what these pieces of programs can do for any business. These applications can easily be added to social media marketing tools to increase business performance.
It all comes down to making interaction more instant, easier and versatile to improve business efficiency. Few platforms can perform as well as chatbots for consumer engagement. Menial tasks for communications can be handed off to an application that makes the process faster regardless of what method a person chooses for engaging the business.
Shaping the Future of Business Engagement
While it may be some time before you can sit down at your computer and have a philosophical discussion about the meaning of life, there is no doubt that chatbot technology is going to be pivotal in the coming years. Luckily, web hosting of all kinds is capable of handling the use of chatbots or live chat integrations. Add flexibility to your business and offer your customers a method to interact with the company directly with chatbots and marketing.