Meeting growing consumer information needs
Last year, Google fielded 3.8 million search requests per minute. If even just a tiny fraction of this search traffic is driving to your website, it might still be difficult to offer practical solutions to consumer issues on a human level. Difficulty aside, it takes time, and that is something precious we all have little of in the increasingly connected internet age.
The desire for instant gratification has, over time, made chatbots more and more appealing to businesses looking to streamline their customer service experience. This instant gratification economy has become so widespread, in fact, that many online retailers have done away with an “Add to cart” button and have replaced it with a “Buy it now” option.
We exist in a state of constant interaction and feedback with the world around us, mostly through the use of social media and entertainment apps that provide a seemingly endless flow of information. With so much available at our fingertips and with our increasing need for immediate response, chatbots have never been a more attractive option for the average business. As millennials continue to drive trends in customer service through the way they interact online, you can expect to see more and more chatbots popping up on your most frequented sites.
Humanity in chatbots
The mere mention of chatbots might elicit a groan from consumers who interacted with less-developed bots in the early days of online retail and customer service. In the past, these bots were perceived as more hassle than they were worth. In many cases, consumers are more interested in talking to a human representative who can provide more direct answers. Although most of our interactions are streamlined through the web, human connection is still important and the use of chatbots partially removes this from the customer service process.
Despite the apparent absence of human customer service, chatbots can often do things that human service representatives can’t, including solving complex equations in a matter of seconds and using keyword recognition to direct the customer to the exact solution to a specific query. Bots are also constantly learning ways to improve service—every time a person has a conversation with a chatbot, the bot learns from the interaction to inform future communication. These bots have a response rate of 100 percent, and can make large strides toward improving customer communications by replying to messages that may otherwise slip through the cracks. Plus, when a human touch is really needed, almost all bots can redirect customers to human representatives.
The way of the future
With the explosive growth of online commerce, it’s clear that chatbots aren’t going anywhere. Artificial intelligence continues to gain popularity, and, as the technology expands, the bots themselves are getting smarter and smarter. Not only are they becoming better at talking to consumers, they are also increasing overall efficiency. For example, in 2017, Facebook acquired the bot start-up, Ozlo, for this very reason—to create an easier and more specific customer service experience.
In 2018, VentureBeat reported that the value of the global chatbot market is projected to surpass $1.34 billion by 2024. This figure not only suggests that chatbots are here to stay but that they are more popular than we might think. In fact, have used them and 70 percent reported positive results and indicated a willingness to use them again in the future.
Chatbots provide an opportunity for consumers to engage with new technology. We are always looking to try the next big thing—the next model of iPhone, the new social media platform, or the latest video game that is exploding in popularity. By nature of the way that they are built, chatbots learn as you talk to them, meaning that users are like developers themselves. Bots are the ultimate way to engage with technology, offering users the chance to be part of the technology’s evolution.
For those who are especially interested in the progress of chatbots, it has never been easier to learn more about bots or even to build your own. Amazon recently launched a bot information portal specifically designed to help consumers and businesses learn more about chatbots and the steps to take to achieve maximum efficiency through the use of artificial intelligence.
With instant gratification driving the way that users interact online, it is likely that we will see the popularity of chatbots continue to rise over the next five years. Convenience and instant response rates make bots an attractive option, especially as businesses look to better serve a younger demographic of consumers who have grown up on the internet and who are accustomed to having information quickly accessible at their fingertips. Whether you’re a chatbot user, build your own chatbots, or simply enjoy learning more about them, you’re part of an exciting wave of the future of technology driven by convenience.
This is a guest article by John Van Duyn.