Anyone who has ever tried to contact a company through a call center knows how slow and frustrating the process can be.
Despite good intentions, a call center will be always slower in responding. Precisely for this reason, technology has opened the door to a faster and simpler solution: chatbots.
What is a chatbot and why it is needed
A chatbot is artificial intelligence (AI) software that can simulate a conversation (or chat) with a user in natural language via messaging applications, websites, mobile apps, or over the phone.
Why are chatbots important?
A chatbot is often described as one of the most advanced and promising expressions of human-machine interaction.
From a technological point of view, it represents only the natural evolution of a Question Answering system that exploits Natural Language Processing (NLP).
Formulating answers to questions in natural language is one of the most typical examples of natural language processing applied in the final applications of various companies.
A chatbot gives a response based on a user's input. This process may seem simple, but things are quite complex. There are two different activities behind a chatbot:
- Analysis of the user's request
- Respond to the customer
Analysis of the user's request
This is the first task that a chatbot performs.
It’s important to analyse the user's request in order to identify the user's intent and to extract relevant entities.
The ability to identify the user's intent and extract the relevant data and entities contained in the user's request is the first condition and the most relevant step at the heart of a chatbot: if you are unable to correctly understand the request of the user, you will not be able to provide the correct answer.
Response to the user's request
Once the user's intent has been identified, the chatbot must provide the most appropriate response to the user's request.
The answer could be:
- a generic and predefined text
- a text retrieved from a knowledge base that contains different answers
- contextualized information based on the data provided by the user
- data stored in company systems
- the result of an action that the chatbot performed by interacting with one or more backend applications or a question that helps the chatbot to correctly understand the user's request
Chatbot applications simplify interactions between people and services. At the same time, they offer companies new opportunities to improve the customer engagement process and operational efficiency by reducing the typical cost of customer service.
To be successful, a chatbot solution should be able to effectively perform both tasks.
Human support plays a key role here: regardless of the type of approach and platform, human intervention is crucial in configuring, training and optimizing the chatbot system.
They are easy to use and many customers prefer them. They can also save businesses money and are easy to set up. Since most chatbots use messaging apps already on billions of phones around the world, there are chances your customers are already connected and ready for your bot.
Chatbots are the future of the customer experience and have the power to replace search windows and many apps in the not too distant future.
Chatbots in messaging apps
In most cases, chatbots use messaging apps to communicate with customers. A person can text or ask a question and the chatbot responds with the correct information. Depending on the situation, many chatbots can learn from what a customer says.
Practically, it’s able to personalize the interaction thanks to a previous interaction: for example, if a customer talks to a chatbot and asks for advice on movies the chatbot can remember which movies the customer has already seen.
The countless functions of a chatbot
Chatbots can be useful in many aspects of the customer experience.
For example, they can provide customer support, submit product reviews and engage customers through targeted marketing campaigns. If customers have a problem with a product, they can connect with a chatbot to explain the situation and the chatbot can enter that information to figure out how to fix the product.
They can also be used to share popular products with customers, act as a personal shopper to find the gift or organize the perfect evening for a customer with a few simple questions.
Major companies also use chatbots to connect their customers and add personality to their products.
The use of a chatbot guarantees the customer constant assistance 24 hours a day: immediate and instant communication contributes to the promotion of an authoritative and qualified image of the company.
Automated data collection
The chatbot software is able to memorize user requests and store useful information to personalize corporate email marketing and digital marketing campaigns. The artificial intelligence system automatically categorizes the collected data providing a quick and immediate analysis.
Optimization of the purchasing process
An automated chatbot is able to guide the user during the purchasing process by providing immediate and personalized information and optimizing the corporate image in the eyes of the consumer.
Incentive of loyalty
Chatbot platforms are tools that are particularly suitable for sharing and promoting personalized discounts and offers. The one-to-one communication guaranteed by the instant messaging service is able to dedicate a unique and original type of communication to each contact, encouraging customer loyalty.
Personification of the brand
With the use of a smart bot, the corporate brand takes on a virtual identity: the user, through direct messages, has the perception of communicating directly with the company, establishing a personalized contact with it aimed at loyalty.
Now: what happens when the bot fails? We answered in this article.