Chatbots. The word may sound like something from a sci-fi movie made in 1994 and set in 2025, but what was once a fantasy of the future is already here with us.
In the current day, we hear people talking about how chatbots are the future of business, and it certainly seems to be the case, although these bots still require a fair amount of development to be able to completely take over the role of a human being.
Having said that, don’t get me wrong about the current abilities of bots. They have been developed to a point already that works at a certain level of understanding and response.
Let’s look at what a chatbot is. Simply put, a Chatbot is a program that automates certain tasks, usually chatting with consumers on a conversational interface. That is the basic version, however the most advanced chatbots, which are powered by artificial intelligence, help the bot to personalise replies and understand complex requests. Given that this sort of technology is still very young, bots generally follow a set of rules defined by a programmer on a bot building platform.
Putting it simply, the point of a chatbot is essentially a customer support role. Using the pre-programmed responses, and by asking a defined list of questions, bots can figure out what it is you require and either provide the relevant information or accomplish the task.
Data from Google Trends shows that over the last 5 years, search volume for chatbots has increased 19x. This goes to show just how much businesses and individuals began to understand the value of them. Recently, Facebook released some data which helps prove the value of bots for use in business:
- 2 billion messages are sent monthly between consumers and businesses
- 56% of people prefer to contact a business via message than call customer service
- 53% of people are more likely to shop with a business which they can message
There is a reality in modern life, and it’s a somewhat sad one, but that reality is that many people want to limit human interaction if at all possible. By this, I mean that if they can message a business instead of verbally speak to a person, they will. This is apparent with features such as the “self-checkout” at stores. Some companies, such as Amazon, have taken it a step further. Amazon have opened a store with no cashiers or self-checkouts.
The point of this is that consumers now want service without having to engage if they choose not to and to get what they want as quick as possible, i.e. not waiting on hold on a phone call for a customer service representative. This is where chatbots are proving most helpful at this stage of the game, in customer service. Not only can the bot direct you or provide you with the information you’re after, but they can operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. This of course is not only a benefit to the consumer, but also to the business and the business's bottom line.
As the tech behind chatbots advances, so does its ability to improve the service that businesses can offer to consumers. These advancements will also begin to become more prevalent in our daily lives through the use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) personal assistants. Watch this space.