What does the future hold for chatbots?

BY:
Beth Burnage

Chatbots are becoming one of the most common ways for brands to make themselves more available to their customers. Chatbots can operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. This allows your business to have meaningful, personalised, one-on-one interactions with a limitless audience – with no drain on your human resources.

But what does the future look like for chatbots?

The global chatbot market is set to exceed $7.7 billion by the year 2025. In a survey of over 800 business decision-makers from around the world, over 80 percent said they already used or are planning to implement chatbots by 2020.

Bots aren’t something to be ignored.

Chatbots benefit businesses and customers

Consumers want information as quickly as possible and are turning to technology to help. Consumers are looking for the most direct line between their problem and a solution. This is where bots come in. Bots can provide this line in a place where consumers already spend most of their time: messenger apps.

For the first time ever, people are using messenger apps more than social network apps with over 5 billion active monthly users. Bots allow consumers to ask brands questions – in the same way they would ask their friends – in a platform that is completely familiar to them.

No more website enquiry forms with uncertain response times. No more tedious phone calls spent selecting from a list of options – none of which ever seems quite right. Answers are given to consumers pretty much instantaneously.

The benefits of using chatbots don’t stop with the consumer. Bots present an excellent opportunity for companies.

Brands can gain real insight into what their customers want and need. This allows them to offer the same customers personalised offers and answers to their queries.

Chatbots can also save businesses a huge amount of time and money by providing immediate, automatic responses to consumers’ queries. This allows you to serve a greater number of people, while increasing productivity and decreasing costs.

But there’s still room for improvement…

The stakes are high to get messaging right. Consumers now have control. Any annoying, unhelpful or irritating messages from brands can lead to customers opting out, blocking or unfollowing the brand.

Currently, it is all too common that bots lack a clear purpose, forget what you’ve said or don’t understand conversational context. This needs to change to keep consumers engaged and loyal.

This change is coming with advanced Natural Language Processing (NLP), a form of artificial intelligence. Currently, NLP has issues with detecting the meaning or nuances of messages due to either spelling and grammatical errors or lack of context.

In an effort to change this, scientists at MIT are developing technology that takes in visual, situational and linguistic information. This technology learns more like a baby than a machine. For brands, this is a step towards chatbots which are capable of understanding and accurately responding to complex queries. The upshot is a drastically improved customer experience.

Chatbots are more than just a customer service tool

As well as being used on a customer service basis, brands are increasingly finding new uses for bots:

  • CNN uses bots to keep users up to date with major news stories
  • HP bots allow users to send photos and files to your printer
  • Mastercard bots make it easy for consumers to check on account transactions.

Skincare brand Pond have recently launched an AI powered chatbot. By combining AI technology with their own clinical research data, the bot provides users with matches to the right skincare products for them.

We are still only scratching the surface of what a chatbot-enabled future may look like. But we can be certain that chatbots are here to stay and will impact both businesses and consumers alike.

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Author: Beth Burnage

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