CHATBOT: The new frontier of customer care
Have you ever talked to a robot? If you asked the same question 10 years ago the answer would have probably been the same for everyone: no!
In 2017, it’s almost impossible to find someone who has never talked to a robot. Of course, I’m not talking about those you have seen in the movies, walking around the city with human appearance, but about those installed on you smartphones, chatbots! They can listen to our requests and give us advices, information and possibly solutions. There’s no need to say, that some products like Siri, Alexia, Cortana are more than a simple chat, they are a virtual assistant. This system is now very efficient, can detect our voice, elaborate words and answer in a very short time. This project has been supported by big expectations in the latest years. The initial idea was to improve assistants’ efficiency until they would have reached the same complexity of a human brain. The biggest barrier to put those dreams into practice was dealing with human’s emotions. Systems were indeed accurate and advanced that they seemed to act as real person and not a cpu; for this reason, customers started speaking in a more informal way, thus causing the program to break because it was unable to detect jokes, tones and irony.
At the moment, all big companies, like Google, Apple and Amazon, are working on this product which can be very profitable. The only bot that is considered very sophisticated now is only one though: M, Facebook’s virtual assistant that “lives” inside messenger. Are you looking for a hotel, movie tickets or any information? No problem, M will do that for you faster than you would and understanding even the most complicated request. Facebook has been testing it for two years but only 10.000 people have had the opportunity to try it. Why is M working so well? The trick is very simple: when the program is not able to answer properly, a human operator takes its place and nobody notices the difference. This solution can obviously work only with a small group of people. The interesting feature consist in the bot’s learning skill: it improves its responses following human feedback, creating an ongoing training that will allow bots to satisfy every time more difficult requests.
A lot of companies see big opportunities in chatbots and they have started studying its application in customer care, assistance and marketing services. It would be a response to common email or phone assistance which is very slow and busy. It could take a week to solve a problem if it requires an exchange of a few information.
We now have chatbots (a “chat” with a “robot”); an instant messaging solution between customers and data. When the customer start chatting, Chatbot immediately replies trying to fix the problem or satisfy a request. This solution is more efficient than a human assistance for many reasons: you don’t need to wait for a free employee to have an answer, it can speak several languages (very helpful for non-English native speakers) and it’s very very fast. In fact, if a human operator has to listen to your request, check out for information on the computer, find the solution and give an answer, a chatbot owns your data and, after a fast analysis, provides you the best solution within a few seconds. Chatbots are powerful in particular when you have to choose between alternatives; for example bots of dress shop are able to show you clothes following your instruction. Practically you can ask the bot for a T-shirt, it shows you different models and you can ask for something darker, than something cheaper and so on until you will find the product you want. Finally, when you have added it to the shopping cart, it will suggest you for beautiful pants which match perfectly with the t-shirt (one-to-one marketing) .
Chatbots know you and get to know you better every time you use them. This is the feature that will make them even more powerful and efficient. There will be new technologies developed around bots targeted marketing, with one-to-one campaigns offer. When you are speaking with the bot, it knows perfectly your preferences stored in its database and it can provide you the best offer according to your interests.
This business is expected to increase rapidly in the next years. According to a recent recent study by Juniper, instant messaging applications will double in 2021 (from 2,3 mld to 4,2 mld) heavily sustained by Chatbots adoption. From 2017 to 2021, we can expect a 190% increase just in western countries. This growth would be supported by the launch of new online platforms which offer the possibility to create chatbots easily.
In the future, the biggest challenge for this technology will be to become so sophisticated that a user would not be able to tell if he was chatting with a human or with a robot. What if we will also have personal assistants that will start a conversation without inputs, analyzing the situation, our physical parameters and will perfectly understand our needs. Will we call them Wifebots?