Two Reasons You Will Absolutely Love Chatbots

A bot can refer to any kind of robot. Today I’m referring to a chatbot — a machine that can have a conversation with a human via voice or text. In fact many of us are already having conversations with bots via Siri or Alexa. We request one thing, and the virtual assistant aims to identify that thing. They assist us in retrieving some kind of information.

Chatbots are exciting for two reasons. They have the ability to cut through large amounts of information and give us something relevant. They also have the ability to scale personalized and tailored interactions.

All That Information-Sifting

Did you know that sometimes when you contact a call center, the agent on the other line is using google to search for the answer on the company website? That’s right, the employee that was hired to help you is using the same tactic as you are; Google!

While many of us still prefer to contact a call center when we need to get help, younger generations generally do not enjoy using the phone aspect of their smartphone. That said, generational preferences are changing. Additionally the technology enabling us to serve younger generations on emerging channels is improving.

The most exciting promise of artificial intelligence is its ability to do a job that is not currently done by a human. Artificial intelligence is the intelligence exhibited by machines. While some are afraid of machines, overall many of the machines today we use when dealing with customers are quite stupid.

Just Too Much Information Online!

There is no human with a job in a warehouse of online data that spends all day sifting through that warehouse to find you something, whether that’s information or a product. Generally it just takes a really long time to find what we are looking for online. As it stands today, most of us spend a lot of time looking for things whether that’s trying to find a medical diagnosis online, searching for vacation spots, or searching for restaurants…we all waste a lot of time on Google. But the future promises less wasted time spent sifting through large amounts of irrelevant information thanks to chatbots. In fact in almost every industry there is an opportunity to make things more efficient by providing chatbot technology that can get you to your answer more quickly.

Chatbots can help us do this, and sister to a chatbot is artificial intelligence or machine learning, currently being used by some retailers already to tailor customer experiences. For example, The North Face uses artificial intelligence to help you sift through the many jackets on their website. The bot asks you “when and where you will be using this jacket?” Then North Face asks if the jacket is for a woman or man. After these questions you are presented with a few that meet your criteria. We are on the cusp of the explosion of personal shopping, powered by artificial intelligence. Today we have Trunk Club, Stitch Fix and Le Tote that are already creating personalized shopping experiences through algorithms, but we still spend a lot of time navigating most websites. We need these technologies today because there is just too much content on the internet, and it can be overwhelming to the user. These chatbots will make customers lives better by finding what they need faster. Customers can then spend more time doing the things in life they’d rather be doing than sifting through information.

Scaling Personality And Engagement

Today an article was published in the New York TimesIt’s Not Their Pop Idol, but a bot. Fans cheer anyway.” The article talks about the success that celebrities such as Maroon 5 have had with creating bots that engage with fans. When would a fan have the chance to talk to the celebrity in real life? Not many chances. However when it comes to chatbots, scalability is their attraction. The article states that when a chatbot (from vendor Octane AI) sends a new notification, 50–75% of its subscribers click through and open the link within 10 minutes. Maroon 5 — a day before releasing its single “Cold,” sent a 10 second clip of the song to its chatbot followers and within 24 hours fans sent 100K messages to the bot and shared the song on social media.

A chatbot can provide an experience — such as those mentioned in the article created in the image of singer Christina Millian who said, “I feel like it’s persona…It’s definitely in my words. It’s how I talk. My fans know how I talk.” Her chatbot has attracted 2 million people since October.

Before chatbots celebrities could not scale personalized interactions, and neither could brands.

When it comes to customer experience, the best experiences are tailored and personalized — but that is not easy for most brands. This is part of the reason customers are so attracted to the sharing economy — because it allows for the scalability of tailored, personalized interactions. For example now you can get someone to help you with a task of your choosing on Task Rabbit, or have something homemade specifically for you on Etsy. Historically there is a friction between the company and the customer, because the company seeks to move as many people through the same experience as possible, and the customer seeks a personalized tailored interaction. This is where something like a chatbot might help.

In conclusion bots are cool and helpful

I believe bots will help us with a role that no one is doing right now, so it doesn’t take jobs away from people, and it adds a lot of value to society overall.

With machine learning chatbots can better understand customer intent. What is it that the customer actually needs? The chatbot, through machine learning, can search through very large databases of information, and identify what that customer wants. In the future they can also do it in a fun and engaging way with the customer through a chatbot.

Blake Morgan is a customer experience futurist, author and keynote speaker. Sign up for her weekly customer experience newsletter here.