For all the hype around how AI will change our lives in the future, it’s easy to overlook the impact it is having today. AI-powered systems are already at the heart of many organisations, with Deloitte predicting that 85% of UK businesses will invest in AI by 2020. Chances are you’ve already interacted with a real-life artificial intelligence yourself – perhaps without even realising it.
Of all the AI-infused tech out there, chatbots are perhaps the most instantly functional. These handy little helpers are revolutionising the way we interact with technology, reducing once complicated processes down to a simple conversation.
According to Gartner, by 2020 the average person will have more interactions with a bot than with their spouse. Whether you think that’s a good thing or not, one thing is clear: chatbots are set to take the market by storm.
While it’s tempting to see chatbots as a novelty innovation, they are proving incredibly effective at simplifying our lives and driving customer engagement. And they’re only going to get better, too. Thanks to machine learning and natural language processing (NLP), intelligent chatbots have the ability to self-improve – the more data they process, that is the more interactions they have with us humans, the better they are at interpreting the nuances of language and responding effectively.
Let’s take a look at some of the ways chatbots can transform a business.
Internal communications and HR
Today’s employee is overwhelmed by numerous systems and complicated processes. They might use one system to book their holidays, another to check the lunch menu, and another to manage their tasks or view their work schedule. Switching between these can be time-consuming and frustrating.
Each system looks and feels slightly different, and requires a certain level of familiarity to navigate. And they are rarely intuitive – it sometimes feels like you need a user manual just to get the simplest of tasks done.
As a result, companies are struggling to maintain a steady flow of information between systems and employees. Meanwhile, employees’ expectations are growing – they now want seamless and natural processes at work, not clunky and confusing ones.
Chatbots solve this problem by providing a single, easy-to-use interface – a friendly helper between the employee and the multiple systems they use. Take booking a holiday, for example; instead of turning on a laptop, logging into a particular system and navigating through various pages to the part where holidays are booked, the employee can simply tell the chatbot when they plan to be away. This can be done anywhere, anytime via their smartphone.
We’ve all been there before, phoning up customer services with an urgent problem only to be greeted with: “Thank you for waiting; we are currently experiencing an unusually high volume of calls.” And we all know just how frustrating it can feel to be left hanging on the line.
With a customer services chatbot, this need never happen again. Unlike humans, chatbots can’t be overwhelmed by high call volumes. To these bots, handling multiple requests is a piece of cake – and they’re available 24/7, seven days a week. Sounds better, right?
Chatbots look set to take the customer services world by storm, with Gartner predicting that 85% of all customer interactions will take place without a human by 2020. Take a moment to let that digest: in just two years’ time, less than a fifth of all communication between a brand and its customers will be handled by actual humans!
Now take a moment to think what would happen to your customer base if you fail to adapt in line with these changes.
Customer engagement and UX
We may have access to a world of information at our fingertips, but the process of finding what we need can often be a hassle. Traditional online experiences no longer reflect the way customers want to interact with brands.
In a recent survey by Drift, participants were asked to describe what frustrations they had experienced with online services. Here are the top five:
- Sites that are hard to navigate
- Can’t get answers to simple questions
- Basic details about a business are hard to find
- Takes too long to find services
- Poorly designed smartphone apps
If you’re like me, these won’t have come as a big surprise. How many times have you visited a website only for the one piece of information you need to be missing? If you aren’t providing instant answers to your customers questions, chances are they’ll move on to someone who can.
So how can chatbots help improve a customer’s experience of interacting with your brand? Instead of wasting time trawling a website for a specific piece of information, chatbots do the legwork for you. Ask them a simple question, and they’ll give you a simple answer.
Build your own bot
Above are just some of the ways that bots could transform your business. In reality, chatbots can be built and trained to perform pretty much any online transactional task. And with bot-building platforms like People First’s Talksuite you can build a tailor-made chatbot to suit your own particular business needs.
Talksuite acts as a kind of chatbot toolkit, providing the framework and foundation for designing, building and deploying bots that are advanced, easy to use and scalable. They can be layered over existing systems and augment existing processes, providing a friendly interface between your employees and the systems they use. This vastly improves the user experience as well as information flow.
Here are some things to consider when building your own bot:
- Think before you build
Before embarking on a project, you need to work out what you want to achieve. What part of your business needs improving? What do your customers or employees find frustrating about your current service? Who are you trying to appeal to? What are your competitors doing better than you?
By asking these types of questions, you’ll get a clearer vision of the type of problem you want to fix. Once you know that, you can work out what type of chatbot you want to build.
Chatbots can be divided into two types: simple and intelligent. Simple chatbots use a set of pre-programmed responses or offer the user a choice of answers, guiding the interaction in a predictable, scripted way. Intelligent bots, on the other hand, use artificial intelligence to interact in more natural and flexible ways. Whether you’ll need a simple or intelligent bot will depend on the types of tasks it will be handling.
- Success depends upon the metrics
In order to know whether your chatbot is performing, you need to first figure out what success would look like and how to measure it. Typical success metrics include the number of interactions, response time, customer satisfaction ratings, click-through rates, or number of complaints. Each of these metrics will paint a slightly different picture of the bots performance.
Deciding on your success metrics will help you optimise your bots performance, ensuring that you provide the best user experience possible.
- Intelligent chatbots get better with time
Thanks to their machine learning and NLP capabilties, AI-infused chatbots have the ability to improve their performance without the need for additional programming or updates. The more interactions your chatbot has with users, the better it will be at interpreting and reacting to their requests.
While this is pretty much amazing, it’s important to note that you won’t get the finished article straight away. Chatbots need time to fine-tune their performance.
It’s time to embrace change
Investing in a chatbot may feel like a bold move – the idea of handing over your customer interactions to a machine can seem like a huge leap of faith. But this is the reality of modern business.
Customers now demand instant services, interactive solutions and hassle-free processes. If you fail to give them these things, they’ll find someone who can. If the Deloitte statistic is right and the vast majority of UK companies do invest in AI during the next two years, we can only guess what will happen to those who don’t.
If you’d like to find out more about how People First can help you build a tailor-made chatbot, why not get in touch with us today. Simply click on the chat icon in the bottom right of your screen to talk to a People First expert.
For more information about chatbots, why not download our Talksuite guide: What Is a Chatbot?