Chatbots are Getting Smarter & are 2019’s Hottest Trend

We’re entering the age of the chatbot, and thank heavens for that! Think about the last time you had to talk to customer service. It’s regularly a time-consuming and frustrating process that doesn’t even give you the answers you’re looking for half the time. You may roll your eyes at the idea of a chatbot answering your questions for you, but as the technology keeps getting smarter, you might be talking to one and not even know it. Chatbots are one of those pieces of tech that everyone keeps hearing about, but a lot of people have a hard time explaining. So exactly what is a chatbot? The definition of a chatbot is that it’s a computer program built to simulate a real conversation with end users. These bots are frequently employed through websites but are increasingly being used as parts of apps and digital assistants. As they continue to advance, they’re not only changing the ways that customers find answers, but the ways businesses communicate with consumers, and themselves.  

AI is Transforming the Customer Service Experience

Consider back when you had to call your cable or internet provider, or even worse, your health insurance company, to try and sort out a problem. You’d be instantly greeted with a laundry list of menu options presented by an unfeeling robot voice that’d take 10 minutes to get you where you wanted to go. What was even worse was when, even after answering all the prompts and providing your information, the system would still kick you to an actual representative, and you’d have to do it all over again! It was enough to pitch your phone off the nearest bridge in frustration. Chatbot technology is changing the way people view customer service. With smarter, more engaging AI, these programs are now able to answer most, if not all, of the basic questions you might have. Need to check the balance of your account? It can pull all that information from a database. Looking to buy a product? A chatbot can direct you to the e-commerce site to find just what you’re looking for. Most of the questions people ask can be answered easily and be automated through the use of an intelligent chatbot. In fact, a study by CGS Inc. recommends using AI-powered solutions for all of the simple requests and saving the real people for more complex tasks that require nuance and understanding. This can result in faster resolutions for customers while also saving company time and improving overall customer satisfaction.

Improving Internal Business Communication Through Bots

Where this technology has become a real godsend is in the lives of HR professionals. These saints of the modern day workplace are spending half their time answering the same basic questions about benefits, payroll, vacation time, and other mundane things instead of focusing on what really matters to their businesses. Your business is probably already using Slack, but the app can be so much more than a place to share gifs and memes among employees. It’s estimated that employees waste close to a quarter of their time trying to find easy answers or the right person that has those answers. This time-loss rolls downhill because after the employee gives up, they go to HR, who then have to waste their time finding an answer. It’s an endless and frustrating loop of lost company time! Chatbots act as digital assistants that can sweat the small stuff so HR can focus on what’s actually important. Employees can consistently rely on one dedicated place to answer all their basic HR questions, and no longer need to go to human resources for every little problem. “I just hate to see so much wasted time,” said Nick Dokich, founder and CEO of Ulimi, a Cincinnati-based tech startup specializing in chatbot technology. “Especially when the solution is right there!” “People always say to work smarter, not harder, but businesses still have a hard time adapting to the latest trends in tech,” Dokich said. “With a simple chatbot, you can reduce so much lost time and cut down on your overhead while letting your employees focus on doing their jobs and making money.”

Chatbots are Already a Big Part of Our Lives

Think of pizza. A steaming, delicious pizza. Dripping with melted cheese and delightfully greasy pepperoni. Are you drooling yet? Now think of the last time you used an app to order your pie. You were probably talking with a chatbot. A chatbot can quickly and reliably take your order. No anchovies? No problem. Pizza Hut has already launched chatbots on both Twitter and Facebook messenger and the result has seen the Hut make significant gains against its biggest competitor, Domino’s. Pizza Hut customers don’t have to sign up for anything new because the chatbot is integrated with existing social media platforms. This reduces the number of steps in the sales funnel and increases the conversion rate by streamlining the process. And this is just one example of how chatbots are making our lives simpler and more profitable. Soon, there will be a chatbot for just about every online transaction from food to retail to service appointments. There’s a good reason why everyone has been listing chatbots as one of the top digital marketing trends of 2019. They’re practical, easy, affordable, and they just keep getting better. Keep an eye out the next time you have a simple question or are looking for that perfect product because a chatbot probably has the answer.