It used to be that people would get frustrated when calling customer support and having to go through a long series of voice prompts to get help. They just wanted to talk to a human. That’s no longer the case. Now consumers want an instant response. And they don’t mind if it’s a chatbot that gives it to them.
According to the 2018 State of Chatbots Report, “the most common potential benefit of chatbots that consumers pointed to was the ability to get 24-hour service (64%). That was followed by getting instant responses to inquiries (55%) and getting answers to simple questions (55%).”
Bot technology is transforming customer service and call-center culture. It makes consumers happier because they get instant help. Businesses love the fact that it saves them money, as they don’t have to hire as many customer service representatives. But this is not the only reason a company should consider getting a bot.
Here’s a brief look at the history of bots, the benefits they provide, and how companies are using them today.
How the bot began
A chatbot is a computer program that behaves like a human. It provides answers to questions and engages with chat participants via audio or text. Chatbots operate on many platforms, including websites, social media, and mobile applications.
In 1950, computer scientist Alan Turing created what would become known as the “Turing Test.” It was a way to measure how well a computer could impersonate a human being during a conversation.
The first successful passing of the Turing Test came in 1966, when MIT Professor Joseph Weizenbaum developed one of the earliest natural language processing computer programs named “ELIZA.” The name was derived from the character Eliza Doolittle in the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion. Weizenbaum chose the name because it reflected the computer’s ability to be “taught” to improve itself.
ELIZA was able to successfully imitate a psychotherapist and carry on an intelligent conversation with human, without the human knowing they were “chatting” with a computer program. Hence, ELIZA became the first official chatbot.
Benefits of bots
We live in a mobile-obsessed, “instant gratification” society. It’s really no wonder that chatbots are increasing in popularity, especially when it comes to younger generations.
Millennials rarely use their mobile devices to make phone calls. They use them to chat, message, shop, and engage on social media. More e-commerce purchases are being made using mobile apps, which means that businesses not only need a mobile app, but they need one equipped with a chat function as well.
Here are a few more reasons your business needs a bot:
· Thanks to machine learning and big data, chatbots are simply getting smarter and able to respond to inquiries instantly.
· Chat technology allows you to provide 24/7 support, which is important if you’re an international company with customers in different time zones.
· You get more (and better) reviews. Including a survey link at the end of the chat session increases the chances of getting feedback.
· You can utilize chatbots to respond and interact with followers on social media.
· Chatbots don’t have human emotions, so there is less chance for conflict.
Today’s consumers have zero patience for 800-numbers and being placed on hold. They would much rather click the “Chat Now” option on a company’s website or reach out via social media. Even when the toll-free number is utilized, most consumers complain about unhelpful customer service reps who aren’t equipped to handle their problem.
Implementing chat technology solves all of these problems, in addition to the money saved by not having to hire as many employees.
How companies are using bots
One of the first companies to truly embrace chatbots for business was Facebook. Bot use is so popular on Facebook that there were over 100,000 bots created during the first year of the Messenger platform.
Many innovative companies have found creative ways to use messenger for business purposes. Some of the best messenger bots include the following.
DoNotPay provides free legal help and is one of the top messenger bots. It was launched primarily to help people fight parking tickets and succeeded in defeating 375,000 tickets over a two-year period. Now the service has branched out to include other types of legal services and can even help consumers get money back from airlines when ticket prices go down.
Another Facebook chatbot, TMY.GRL, was launched in conjunction with designer Tommy Hilfiger’s Fall 2016 runway show. It was able to interact with consumers and provide personalized recommendations and interesting facts about the collection.
The whole point of adding chatbot capabilities to your website and social media accounts is that it’s another tool to reach your customer and learn more about them through one of their preferred methods of contact. They might delete your emails without even opening, but chances are much higher that they’ll respond to your chatbot.
Chatbots are simply the natural evolution of customer service. Any company that wants to compete in today’s e-commerce and mobile-everything market will have to implement bot technology eventually.
Of course, there will always be people who want to speak to an actual live human being, so you should definitely include that option. Remember, the more ways you give your customers to interact with you, the more likely they will. And isn’t that the ultimate goal?
Need help with bot development? If you’re looking to build a bot of your own or incorporate bot technology into your solution, give us a shout!