Chatbots have come a long way in the past few years. Everyone from multi-national brands to local companies such as Your Property Wizard who are a team of Glasgow Mortgage Advisors are using chatbots as a way to engage with their customers using the latest technologies.
Where the prospect of talking to an AI was once a frustrating experience filled with generic and slightly uncalibrated answers – many now are indistinguishable from their flesh and blood counterparts arranging meetings and being able to answer many of the questions that may come through from the companies Facebook page and website
Experts even suggest that chatbots could exceed what’s possible from a human to human interaction in just a few years.
As language interfaces develop, so does chatbot effectiveness. Take a look at 5 ways chatbots will revolutionise business communication from 2018 onward…
- No hold music
It’s a universal truth – we don’t like to be kept on hold. So much so that major call centre operators now advise their staff to keep you on the line, listening to background technical communication, rather than subjecting you to more hold jingles.
The great thing about chatbots is that a sophisticated system makes it appear that you have unlimited numbers of them – all operating at the same time. While synthesised voice isn’t quite there yet – this unlimited scalability means timely responses to online discussion is never a problem, whether or not you’ve got two, or two thousand people waiting to communicate.
- Great service 24/7
As the world’s communication window continues to expand so does the requirement for open-all-hours customer service and support.
The very best way to ensure your customer service never sleeps is to put it in the hands of an AI – and there are great examples of sophisticated chatbots currently being used in the international banking world.
For example, existing customers will generally expect that a customer service rep has access to their historical account information, an AI’s ability to access this information in the blink of an eye is invaluable. What’s more, the simple account actions that are needed by the majority of customers can be performed – since almost all correspondence is conducted entirely online.
Chatbots even have it covered if a customer’s temper begins to wear thin. Contextual language understanding means an AI can sense if your mood is deteriorating – at which point it’s helpful for a real person to step in and handle the situation with a slightly more human deft touch.
- A seamless experience
If you’ve had to make repeated calls to a call centre you know how infuriating it can be if you’re expected to relay your story and explain your problem many times.
The issue normally arises because different call centre agents handle your enquiry each time – and while there may be some corporate guidelines, there just can’t be solid consistency across notes and subjective understanding.
This is where chatbots come into their own. Although it seems multiple chatbots are handling customer conversations all the time – the reality is that it’s only ever one system that’s being used – meaning consistency is a certainty.
- An on-going relationship
There’s incredible power in outbound customer communication. While it’s accurate to call this activity ‘marketing’ – it’s probably marketing’s most gentle form – nicely packaged with a bow made of care and customer service.
Don’t mistake gentle for ineffective though, hundreds of marketing case studies highlight the power of this positive customer interaction.
Unfortunately, there are very few companies who have the resources to do it – whether it’s over the telephone, or via electronic means such as email or instant messaging. However, advanced AI is likely to mean you start seeing much more of it in the not-too-distant future.
The most powerful envisaging of this interaction is one that sees a constant relationship fostered between company and customer – and with intelligent AI, this is becoming a reality. Imagine a company that checks in with you to make sure you’re happy with your purchase a few days after it arrives, then, perhaps it answers the most common support questions before you realise you need an answer – or suggests products as they come into stock based on a customer profile it’s built about you.
A single chatbot system can be offering a comparative service to everyone – but can be made to feel like you’re the most special customer they have, a sure-fire way to ensure brand loyalty going forward.
- A learning computer
“A learning computer” – one of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s iconic lines about how his CPU brain worked in the film Terminator 2. Now, in reality, computer systems do learn – but instead of planning robot revolutions, they tend to be used to build and understand customer profiles – allowing for increasingly sophisticated audience targeting.
Like it or not, we’re creatures of habit – which is why supermarkets seem to magically print money-off vouchers for the products that you want when you swipe your loyalty card. AI can take this kind of behaviour prediction to the next level.
Consider Pinterest, the online service that allows you to ‘pin’ your favourite articles, pictures and posts. Allow an AI access to your Pinterest information and it will learn what you like – so when winter season clothing hits the stores – it can look at the styles you’ve liked previously and a chatbot can interact with you, suggesting particular products that are highly likely be of interest.
While the surface level commercial application for what we’ve described is obviously huge – there’s also masses of other behaviour data to consider, especially around your mood and interaction habits.
What if your behaviour could be predicted to the point of a chatbot knowing when during the day your mood slumped and you reach for social media as a pick-me-up? From there, AI could be correlating that data with your online shopping information – working out patterns between your mood and your shopping habits. If you’re the kind of person for whom retail is a chosen form of therapy – who’s to say chatbot wouldn’t be able to pick the right products to put in front of you at exactly the right time to get your retail fix?
At the moment, that interaction might be considered invasive – but as soon as someone manages to brand the data-gathering in a way that frames it as a concierge service, you can expect people keen to have their own chatbot making recommendations and dishing out compliments from their phone shortly after…