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Advances in artificial intelligence mean chatbots can automate more customer interactions than ever before. According to analyst firm Gartner, the usage of chatbots will triple through 2019 as enterprises seek to increase customer satisfaction and reduce operating costs. But not all chatbots are equal.
For businesses, chatbots (sometimes called “virtual agents” or “virtual customer assistants”) need to be smart in order to be effective. Intelligent chatbots integrate with enterprise systems and the related rules; they can parse big data and use artificial intelligence to help customers resolve issues or perform transactions, such as paying a bill or extending a subscription.
Some chatbots interact with customers to resolve issues, conduct transactions, and answer questions. The fact that these chatbots are bounded — in other words, operating within a certain context such as mortgages, utilities, or wireless — ensures they can better support the conversation.
Because of advances in AI, businesses can artificially replicate the effectiveness of their best agents, reducing customer frustration and wait times. However, it is essential to remember chatbots are still an outward facing extension of the brand, and even though they are machines and not human, customer expectations around their performance will only heighten as the technology becomes commonplace.
Chatbot deployments should be approached in a similar way as any other frontline employee.
Chatbots today and tomorrow
Intelligent chatbots can be deployed on nearly any interface: web, mobile, social, messaging app, voice response, and SMS. They operate in real time and can even predict what a customer is trying to do, offering specific help when they detect that a customer may need assistance. For example, if a customer has a bank mortgage, a chatbot can offer assistance with an understanding of the customer’s chosen product and history in mind. As we look to the future, chatbots will be deployed through augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and other emerging technologies.
Over time, chatbots will be the primary point of customer interaction. This increased self-service will mean reduced call and email volume in traditional support channels. Recently, a leading global airline created an avatar to personify their chatbot. The chatbot serves as an automated concierge, providing customers with instant, accurate answers to their questions about flight status and baggage rules. The chatbot has helped the airline reduce call and chat volume by 40 percent.
One of Canada’s largest banks introduced an intelligent…
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