timberland boot laces How chatbots can improve customer service
From handing out lifestyle advice to helping you find that perfect pair of shoes, chatbots are opening up a new era of business customer interaction.
Also known as virtual agents, IM bots and artificial conversational entities, chatbots are computer programmes that can respond to text or verbal commands and questions, providing advice in the place of a human staff member.
tool, Slack, and photo messaging app,Snapchat. These interact by selecting appropriate answers from a select pool of pre programmed responses. But the more sophisticated bespoke variety harness artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning for a highly responsive and personalised level of interaction with customers.
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They’re becoming a huge growth area, with tech research giant Gartnerpredictingthat by 2020, the average person will have more conversations a day with bots than they do with their spouse.
“Chatbots are gaining in popularity in a number of industries as an important customer service tool, with financial services and insurance particularly keen to roll them out,” says Rob Brown, associate vice president at Cognizant’sCentre for the Future of Work.
“Their rise is being driven by several converging trends: the
popularity of messaging apps, the explosion of the app ecosystem, advancements in AI and cognitive technologies, conversational user interfaces and a wider reach of automation,” he explains.
For business, using chatbots could not only free up the time spent dealing with customers directly, but also lead to visitors being better engaged with their websites, for example; chabots could help to direct them towards the information or products they’re looking for.
A global study conducted by Twilio claimed that 66pc of people would prefer to talk to brands on messaging
platforms (namely nativeones, such as Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp) over any other medium.
Despite this, another study by Sprout Social found that almost 90pc of messages that require a response are ignored by brands, with an average wait
of 10 hours for those that do get a reply even though consumers expect a reply within four. That’s where bots come in.
“Dedicated social media channels aren’t proving very effective for customer service right now,” explains Jo Allison, behavioural analyst at consumer research consultancy Canvas8.
“Approximately 1.4 billion people around the world used the likes of Line, WhatsApp and WeChat, and that number is expected to reach two billion by 2018. Chatbots represent a means of monetising this huge audience,” she says.
She adds that the test will be whether using a chatbot within an app can be as efficient and easy as carrying out transactions or reading the news.
Fashion tech business,Dressipi, works with some of the biggest retailers in the UK. It recently created a chatbot that customers can use in store to find the best clothing for them, with the responses being completely personalised for that person based on their personal preferences.
Company co founder, Donna North, says that the process was about both short and long term goals.
“Conversational marketing or customer service provided by chatbots is an effective way for brands to have a one on one conversation with their customers, learn what they care about, and build long term relationships to better serve them.”
Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) are already starting to see their potential, according to Derek O’Carroll, chief executive at
retail management software company,Bright Pearl.
“They’re beginning to use automation bots to automate order downloads; instantly allocate and fulfil orders; change the order status based on payment, allocation and fulfilment status; and send the