While it might be a bad habit, many shoppers today want instantaneous responses to their queries. Much of this habit has been learned from our close relationship with our devices. From laptops, tablets, phones, and even smartwatches, we’re always connected and now expect all businesses to be accessible in some form.
While not all businesses have the funds to employ a human workforce dedicated to 24/7 customer support, they can and do use online chatbots. You’ve probably been using them without knowing they are AI-powered.
Just like with social media marketing, AI has changed the digital landscape for the better, and businesses big and small are reaping the benefits. We don’t have to worry about a machine uprising just yet, as these chatbots only deliver a finite number of responses to FAQs and will still pass you along to a human representative if the problem is too tricky to solve.
However, a chatbot is perfect for simple questions if customers don’t feel like calling or find emailing too slow.
What makes chatbots so effective is that they can handle many queries at once and are placed within platforms that tech-savvy consumers are already using, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp.
Companies ranging from Staples to Spotify to even Pizza Hut are utilizing chatbots to complete a variety of tasks.
Sure, the responses are rudimentary and curt, but in a world where timing is everything, customers get what they want and then leave.
In a few minutes, you could use a chatbot to order a pizza, get new music recommendations, and find out the price and stock availability of a new TV. Try doing that in-store, and you’ll find it takes longer than a few minutes!
Typically, when someone gets the answer they want quickly, it will lead to conversions.
Chatbots Not Just Used For Business But For Fun
Funnily enough, some business chatbots aren’t even there to help sell products or services, yet simply provide chatbots for fun while simultaneously promoting the brand. As we’ve already seen with other, highly advanced AI programs like Siri and Alexa, chatbots can be sassy, fun, and helpful.
ChatBots – More Than First Line Support
Chatbots are proving useful in more ways than just first-line support. Did you know mattress company Casper’s Insomnobot 3000 is online 24/7 for insomniacs or those who can’t sleep? Plus H&M’s bot can actually give you style advice. Even Disney set up a chatbot to promote its Zootopia movie, whereby users could interact with Officer Judy Hopps (a rabbit) to help solve a case.
Will AI Be Used To Replace Humans?
Of course, there are some justifiable fears regarding replacing humans in the workplace, and it’s been happening for decades as we move through each stage of industrialization, i.e., the industrial revolution. However, according to Michael Schubach, when he was program management director for hospitality at software company Infor, the question was not if, but when.
I think our concern should extend to the human community for both reasons. First, because of our evolving comfort and social interaction with non-sentient human stand-ins, and second, we are outsourcing human labor and displacing livelihoods in favor of mechanized replacements.
While not wanting to sound like I’m running through the village yelling that the sky is falling, I nonetheless believe that thoughtful individuals should not ignore or be surprised by the very clear handwriting on the wall.
Still, one has to wonder if AI is close to being able to think for itself without human intervention.
Microsoft’s efforts at building a thinking AI program haven’t gone particularly well, as its first attempt in one called ‘Tay’ ended up being a misogynistic and racist little thing. In contrast, its second shot in ‘Zo’ is a program that is so politically correct and safe that it’s essentially only the weather and plans for the weekend which can be discussed.
Interestingly, research company Gartner claims in a new report that 85% of customer support interactions will be controlled by chatbots by 2020 – without any human involvement. Despite that figure, some businesses still go against the grain.
Another online mattress company named eve makes a strong point about only using humans for their live chat function on its website, and it has zero plans of using chatbots in the future. Some things, eve thinks, are just better left to humans.
Chatbots For Tedious Tasks
There are even some who think that chatbots will always need humans for higher-level assistance, as Michael Deane explains on becominghuman.ai:
While chatbots might become capable of completely replacing humans in customer relations departments, the odds of this happening are fairly low.
Instead, what is likely to happen is that chatbots will take over the more tedious parts of customer relations, allowing human personnel to work on more creative and higher-value tasks.
We’re referring to a division of labor that can be a win-win for human employees and employers. For example, low-value monotonous tasks are managed by AI-powered software like chatbots and robots. Humans get the more rewarding, challenging, higher-value activities. Welcome to a hybrid workforce. 🙂
Chatbots and robots do, at least for now, have a lack of emotional intelligence. There’s no argument that organizations have a place for bots; however, they have difficulty adapting to brand new scenarios, which can frustrate customers. Humans can take shortcuts to get the solution and communicate more personally.
However, humans, for all their multi-tasking ability, can not deal with questions on a large scale. Chatbots can perform consistently with high volume requests and are cheaper to operate. Future sessions with the same customer user can be personalized with AI and machine learning.
As for platforms to get a chatbot set up, there are ChattyPeople, FlowXO, BotKit, or even Recast, so find one which sounds good for you and your business.
Right now, AI and machine learning will only continue to improve, as the answers will eventually become smarter (as will the recommendations for future purchases) and the sheer range of solutions able to be given will expand.
When customers receive such quick responses to questions, they are more likely to buy, and businesses profit in the long run.