In the 21st century the volume of information doubles every day. The access to this information is unlimited and exhausting. Therefore, people will value a streamlined way to find information easily, in a structured and timely manner. For on-site visitors a well-trained corporate office manager may be sufficient, however, the website visitors may prefer to communicate with her digital twin.
In 2016 - 2017 the chatbot trend reached its highest point, as the computer programs started being integrated in the virtual communication system of the digital giants as Facebook Messenger, Microsoft, Google Assistant, Slack, Telegram, etc. Since then, a lot of companies have specialized in programming chatbot and provide built-in features for the websites.
Chatbot is a computer program created to automatically respond to questions by using AI algorithms and machine learning. The program maintains a conversation by recognizing / understanding the context of the dialogue and responding accordingly.
Such virtual assistants that serve specific business functions can be applied to almost any industry, carrying out different tasks – like conversations for fun, solving different user problems (customer service), finding specific information, or selecting specific products (e.g. cross- and up-sales), even in psychological counselling (used for Syrian war victims). Last but not least, the chatbot is active 24/7.
The first application in this field is answering frequently asked questions. The next one, which is very likely the most wanted is resolving customer queries is answering of different questions. It is helpful, but the chatbot should be trained with a comprehensive list of proper questions. Another task which is highly valued by customers is checking the delivery time of their package, so, it makes sense to let the chatbot handle those questions.
In order to improve the overall customer satisfaction, it is good for businesses to apply easy and straightforward complaint procedures. In the long term this activity pays off. All the efforts invested before can be wiped off if the complaint procedures frustrate customers. This definitely deteriorates a company’s reputation. Chatbots can serve most queries and complaints in a timely manner and improve customer satisfaction.
Chatbots can be useful for new offers recommendations. Based on the customer profile and some kind of feedback, the bot will recommend the right products to them. Even more, when well trained, the chatbot can understand customers - asking the right questions at the right times.
Integrated into CRM system, or a loyalty system, the chatbot can reinforce the sales personnel, assisting in and notifying them when they are assigned opportunities, in leads generation and updates. Customer outreach is better when bots write the first reply. For example, while targeting SMEs, the organisation can send automated emails and chatbots can respond immediately to leads. Short response time is one of the best keys to boost conversion.
Chatbots can add a new layer of interactivity to e-commerce, allowing customers to interact beyond menus and buttons. Typical use cases are bot conversations to unlock more options, price alerts, gifts offers, discount codes, etc.
Chatbots have the potential to help customers from the initial stage as booking, but also to the next ones - as solving travel related problems. While the most of the bookings are streamlined as self-service, planning the leisure time is still a daunting task. Travelers need to plan an itinerary, be aware of the sights and best local experiences they would be interested in, select hotels to stay, according to their preferences, budget and convenient location.
While these tasks are time consuming for travelers, smart chat bots can do it in no time, and offer numerous suggestions for much more pleasant experience. Even the booking services can be enhanced with text based reservation systems, which is ease to use and can complement the existing online reservation systems.
There is no doubt that for media and news the speed is as important as the quality of content. Bots certainly outperform humans in terms of speed, however, it is not bold to state they also are catching up in terms of quality. Chatbots can be built to deliver short overviews of news, share details that users seek, and create an engaging news experience for readers. Media companies in the US and China are already using chatbots to prepare flash news.
In investment services Robo-advisors popularity is rising, because they get smarter every day and are capable to serve as the first level of advisor for customers with limited funds. Just as Robo-advisor, chatbots are taking over investment advisors, owing to their capacity to collect necessary data for credit decisions.
Besides the strong focus of sales bottom line, chat bots can enormously benefit HR management. For instance, if the chatbots are integrated into work collaboration environment like Slack, it is ease to monitor employee’s satisfaction and productivity. Bots can answer standard HR related questions – a job which is time consuming and boring for humans, yet ideal one of chatbots. Most employees will be happy if their absences and vacations forms are automatically filed by virtual assistants.
IT helpdesk functionality can be easily embedded in a virtual assistant, which will create and assign cases, notify users of updates, and answer users’ questions. Various facility management and utility related issues can be handled by a chatbot that next will notify users as their requests are resolved, or need attention, require additional information to be solved, and finally when the task is successfully completed.
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