Rise of Chatbots: Changing Shape of Customer Relationships

Chatbots have surely created a buzz around themselves posing as a handy and cost-effective technology for companies to interact with their customers. It’s difficult to miss them as they become more and more ubiquitous, automatically popping in everywhere from food delivery apps to financial planning platforms. Lately they have been rocking the news with Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg’s war of words, along with rumours of Facebook shutting down its artificial intelligence (AI) bot when it invented its own language.

All of this begs the question: what are chatbots and how do they work?

What is a chat bot?

Chatbot is a software designed to stimulate conversation with human users. Embedded with AI, they are changing the shape of customer relationship management by enhancing the efficiency of interaction, making the process faster, smarter and less cumbersome.

No doubt brands are choosing chatbots over human operators to not only get ahead in the game but also cut huge costs generally associated with customer management.

How exactly do they work?

Chatbots can be bifurcated into:

  • Rule-based chatbots that can respond to specific commands
  • AI chatbots that respond to natural language

Say for instance you go to Dominos and order a Farm Pizza. Now while waiting you receive a SMS that says, “send IAMHUNGRY to 54545, and get instant 20% discount coupon”

When you send the text “IAMHUNGRY”, the message is received by the software which interprets it as per the key fed by the programmer, translating into the instruction that IAMHUNGRY = send a 20% discount coupon. As a result, a discount coupon is instantly sent to your mobile phone. Considering that the chatbot here is responding to a preset rule, this is rule-based chatbot.

Easy, right? Now let’s look at the second kind.

Let’s say you are new to the town and want to find a good place to eat. Now there are chat bots boosted with AI you can use.

Like, “hey can you tell me a good place to eat nearby” the app first segregates the words and nouns to process information and then selects keywords to access the required information and solve your query. For instance, in this example, the app would use GPS to determine your location, and then display a good rated option nearby. Note there is no preset rule and the chatbot is expected to “understand” what you meant.

Not just this, but chatbots can assist you with a lot of things from booking online tickets to managing advert campaigns.

Some intelligent chatbots out there

1. Ruuh

A chatbot developed by Microsoft India team for the domestic market. It primarily focuses on entertainment through chatting, humor, music. Currently available only in English, Ruuh aims to assist people via new conversational models.

2. Haptik

Brainchild of two Indian entrepreneurs, Haptik can perform a wide array of activities such as finding shopping deals, checking train status, booking movie tickets, delivering food, finding the cheapest flights and booking cabs.

The app lets the bot and an employee work simultaneously on a problem which assures an enhanced user experience and decreases any possibility of error.

3. MagicX

Developed by a Bangalore-based company, this bot helps you accomplish day-to-day tasks like bill payments, phone recharge, flight booking and multitudes of other services using chat.

4. FitCircle

This chat based social fitness app ensures that you stay fit and healthy by providing personalized diet charts, recommending exercises and suggesting daily health tips.

5. Eva from HDFC

Developed by HDFC Bank, Eva is India’s first AI-based banking chatbot used to solve millions of customer queries. OnChat is another similar bot service used by the bank via FB messenger.

By Prabhat Negi, a marketing executive and business graduate

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