Since 2011, enterprises have adopted chatbots as a new type of responsive technology in the areas of messaging platforms, business intelligence, and artificial intelligence.
Companies were looking for new ways to interact with customers and offer high quality customer service that align with the evolving communication habits.
Typically, a messaging application, often referred to as a conversational interface, designed to simplify complex predefined tasks is known as a chatbot. It covers several categories such as stand-alone applications, AI tools, bot developer frameworks/messaging, bot discovery, analytics, and connectors or shared services.
Modern businesses see chatbots as an easy and fun way of engaging with customers and helping them arrive at a purchase decision. You must have seen them on various websites or social media channels; they are even present on your smartphone sometimes. For example, Allo, Siri or Alexa.
Why Businesses Should Pay Attention to Chatbots
It is predicted that chatbots have an immense potential for business scalability and growth; hence, enterprises are beginning to invest hugely in the bot economy. Several brands have already deployed bots for messaging and other collaboration channels such as CNN or HP. Still in its early stages, industry experts believe that 2016 is the year in which the chatbot revolution will take off.
In a research study conducted by Business Insider, the growing and disruptive landscape of chatbots was explored; analysts studied about what chatbots are, how enterprises can leverage them, and which areas will be affected most by chatbots. After thorough segmentation, it was concluded that enterprises offering chatbot technology such as distribution channels are already using third-party bots.
The report also predicts that business could increase their annual savings provided chatbots replace their customer service operations and sales representation activities. The report also compares the potential of bot monetization on platforms such as Facebook Messenger as against Google Play Store or iOS App Store.
Key Findings of the BI Intelligence Report
Artificial intelligence has reached a stage where chatbots have a great potential of customer engagement; it will allow enterprises to leverage inexpensive and global technology for engaging with more customers across different locations.
Chatbots are specifically preferred for mobile devices rather than apps. Messaging is the crux of mobile experience, as demonstrated by the rapid adoption of messaging apps like WhatsApp.The complete ecosystem of a chatbot is robust, and comprises of various third-party chat bots, native bots, distribution channels, and other enabling technology companies.
Chatbots are a lucrative alternative of messaging apps; developers who build chatbots for such platforms perform similar activities as to how app stores are developed and transformed into moneymaking ecosystems.
Key takeaways for marketers
Marketing professionals have a lot to gain from chatbots. Tagging particular content to specific chatbot words/phrases will help in delivering relevant content to several pre-defined conversations. Moreover, with a deep understanding of customer journeys and buying decision processes, content and customer chats can be mapped successfully. In addition, you can also draft targeted chatbot conversations for a specific group of customers.
Thomas Husson, VP and Principal Analyst, Forrester believes in the great potential of messaging apps and chatbots. He states,“We expect messaging apps to play a key role throughout the customer life cycle but more specifically to enable brands to deepen conversations with their customers during the retention phases. Why? Because messaging apps combine the three keys to powerful relationships in any digital environment: frequency of use, emotional connection, and convenience.”
Chatbots serving major industry verticals
Chatbots/messaging apps help in providing basic communications, ecommerce, travel plans etc. Today, brands are increasingly using chatbots on a large scale to drive ecommerce, pertaining to younger customers. Michael Klein, Director of Industry Strategy, Retail, Adobe believes chatbots have a potential to attract purchases and rapidly increase the number of items in user’s shopping carts. While chatbots can reduce the activities of a customer service representative as well as sales associates, it gives a bigger opportunity for customer engagement and personalization. For instance, Amazon’s chatbot called ‘Echo’; it has completely transformed the paradigm of conversational commerce; now people can simply ask the bot about what they need.
Other popular messaging-app chatbots include:
- Uber, you can order a taxi ride.
- Burberry showcases its fashion during London Fashion Week.
- Taco Bell and Dominos, for ordering food for home delivery.
- HelloVote helps users register for vote.
- IcelandAir helps users search and book flights.
Rise of messaging apps boosts chatbots
Messaging apps are one of the most popular among mobile app users; hence, it is a good platform to promote chatbots. Facebook is also encouraging the growth of bots. Microsoft has recently released ‘Tay’, a chatbot that discusses with Twitter users; it was amidst some controversy as people taught the software to repeat racist and offensive remarks. But Satya Nadella, Chief Executive of Microsoft still promoted chatbots saying these bots could be a new method of customer interaction.
Encryption of chatbot communication is a method of providing maximum security. Hence, chatbots should be deployed on encrypted channels only. These are obvious safety measures, however it is not simple. An in-house chatbot running on an enterprise’s network can be a private, encrypted channel. However, when you deploy a chatbot on a public channel such as messaging apps, the security capabilities of the platform is accountable.
Another major risk involved is when chatbots start imitating humans better. Hackers usually implement this technology for phishing activities and social engineering hacks. For instance, you design a chatbot that imitates your customer/vendor and strikes a conversation with an employee using a messaging app. So, after building a healthy rapport, the chatbot can entice the employee to hand over confidential information or click on malicious links.
These are some of the risks you should be aware about before investing in a chatbot system.
Testing and development support is crucial to a chatbot. Usually, chatbot developers manage these tasks; however, it is crucial to provide support after the bot goes live. Since a chatbot tracks the entire customer journey, companies accessing data silos will face issues related to ownership and internal budgeting.
Challenging Your Core Competencies
Developing useful chatbots is not an easy task. The biggest challenge you face is the technologies involved in developing a chatbot and their integration with the enterprise’s existing IT systems. However, to develop a useful chatbot you require the core competencies of predictive analytics and natural language process, which unfortunately most of the IT departments do not have.
In addition, brand chatbots must also integrate directly with other relevant systems of the organization such as help-desk, CRM or order processing.
You enterprise’s IT department must take a holistic approach towards the solution architecture for seamless integration of the chatbot with the entire communication system across the enterprise.
The Way Forward But Chatbots Won’t Replace People
Yes. Chatbots are an innovative technology but it will not replace apps, humans, emails or websites. It will, instead, help in widespread adoption of bots for specific use cases like helping customers make easy purchases or find desired information quickly. It will enhance the levels of customer satisfaction and increase customer engagement, without doubts. Chatbots will ensure a better customer service delivery than other modes of communication.
The concept of one-on-one communications with brands through messaging apps will stay for sure.
Do you wish to develop a chatbot for your enterprise? Talk to our experts now.