Forget chatbots, use AI augmented humans to handle your customers

The chatbot hype is winding down

The second half of 2016 was all about chatbots. Facebook Messenger led the charge, with plenty of other platforms to follow. Slack introduced the Enterprise Grid recently with bots and since November last year you can build chatbots for Twitter as well. And there are countless live chat and customer service software to facilitate communication with your customers. With giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook working on personal assistants, 2017 has been touted by many as the year conversational AI will become mainstream.

It is only March though, and the capability of chatbots has already been questioned. Facebook has announced that they are curbing their ambitions when it comes to chat automation. In a recent report, the social media giant admitted that its assistant, Facebook M was only capable to process 30% of user inquiries needing humans in the rest of the cases. If a giant like Facebook has a hard time figuring out automated chat interactions, what does it mean for the industry as a whole? VCs are becoming ever wearier, some calling AI the new cleantech.

Facebook Messenger becoming more like WeChat

While independent bot developers are less forthcoming when it comes to the failure rate of their bots, it is clear that the most successful bots are the ones that trade natural language understanding in favor of a more rigid, button or command tree driven interface. And it seems like Facebook is also determined to push developers (and in turn users) to this direction with the recent update of the platform.

Swell is successful yet doesn’t behave much like a bot

Messenger Platform 1.4 allows developers to show a persistent menu in their bots as well as to disable the text input field completely signaling the end of chatbots you can actually chat with. This, coupled with Facebook’s advice to use in app webviews whenever possible hints at what many have already suspected. Indeed, Facebook’s messaging solution for businesses is increasingly becoming like that of WeChat’s.

In the meantime, Twitter is enabling businesses to respond to DMs directed at company accounts with personalized customer service accounts, precisely to show that the customer is dealing with a human and not a bot.

The need is there, the tools are not

Customer service is changing, customers are expecting fast, accurate responses on any and every channel and the more personal, the better.

Being personal is not enough though, speed matters even more. And it is not only about having a good experience. Twitter’s report claims that customers who get a response from a business are willing to spend more with them in the future. And speed is the key:

When an airline responded to a customer’s Tweet in less than six minutes, the customer was willing to pay almost $20 more for that airline in the future. Similarly, in the telco industry, customers are willing to pay $17 more per month for a phone plan if they receive a reply within four minutes, but are only willing to pay only $3.52 more if they have to wait over 20 minutes.

And customers who got a fast response are 40% more likely to talk about their experience and 33% more likely to share it on social media. And customers share their experiences with businesses at a staggering pace, so better make sure they are sharing the good ones.

Indeed, businesses increasingly compete on better service, whether they realize it or not. And not only in customer service. Customers are increasingly expecting live interactions before they commit to buy. The greater the cost, the more important it is for businesses to be there for their customers.

Drift, the maker of a live chat software recently conducted an experiment and found that only 7% of businesses using live chat responded within 5 minutes. Is this due to them not having enough staff to handle the inquires, or them not being able to answer 24/7? Sorry to say, but customers don’t care, they will take their business to where they can get fast and accurate answers.

It is not surprising that on chat, customers expect rapid responses, it is the hallmark of the channel after all. Having fast email responses on the other hand present an excellent opportunity to surpass expectations. Most customer service and sales departments have KPIs in hours, what if I say you could measure them in minutes?

Chatbots are not good enough, now what?

There is a clear need for fast, accurate and personal customer service and even sales responses. Be it B2B or B2C, no business can afford to not be available 24/7 on all prominent channels to answer their customers’ questions. But how can we do this in an efficient and scalable way?

I believe the answer is augmenting humans with Artificial Intelligence. AI today is capable of a lot of things, but they are certainly better at some tasks than other. Organizing, looking up and providing accurate information is one of AI’s strong suits. This is why we use Natural Language Processing (NLP) to detect the incoming intent and suggest answers for agents to use.

We here at Bicycle AI believe that humans should do what they are best at, having conversations. We make sure that the relevant, up-to-date and compliant answers are always there for them.

And with each interaction, our Machine Learning (ML) algorithms are teaching our AI to give even more relevant answers in the future. Building a conversational AI takes time and a lot of data, so this is why today we propose to take care of all your customer interactions, based on your business’s interaction history. We provide you with the humans and the AI to provide fast, accurate and personal service to your customers that scales with you.

We handle chats and emails, integrate with your services of choice and charge you based on usage. We also scale with your needs. Getting featured on Product Hunt or turns out one of your products has a defect and you are getting swamped? No worries, we can handle it, 24/7.

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