Hankering for a pizza? Order it straight away through Facebook messenger. The Dominos chatbot built by Microsoft lets you order your favorite Domino’s Pizza without leaving your Facebook chat. However, it is not just Microsoft; integrated assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri are also infusing artificial intelligence to devices so that users can communicate in natural human language.

Why is everyone obsessed with chatbots (Chatterbots or Chat Robots)? Are chatbots a mere hype or are they the next big thing in customer engagement? In the words of Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, chatbot “is a technology that is inevitable as they open the way to create conversation as a platform”. Nadella furthers that chatbots will ride the new wave of artificial intelligence and change the way we browse the web.

Understanding the significance of chatbots

In simple words, chatbots are digital entities designed to automate most of the tasks that you do yourself, like reserving a dinner table, booking a flight ticket, fixing a medical appointment, checking the weather or ordering a bouquet of flowers. Chatbots engage in intelligent conversations with users, simultaneously inferring from the context, and enable users to access business services while they are on chat platforms like Facebook messenger, Skype or Telegram. This primarily indicates the drastic shift of the search and discovery function from Google. Pure chat platforms like WhatsApp and WeChat will soon be joining the “bots party”.

From a business perspective, chatbots increase customer engagement by replacing the need to install several apps. Chatbots can be easily plugged into numerous data sources using APIs and can deliver services or data on demand. In the customer service domain, the bots are equipped to handle repetitive communication faster than humans, leading to increased productivity and customer satisfaction.

Why bots are a must-ingredient for your omni-channel CX strategy

Businesses of all sizes- small, medium or large- can benefit from chatbots. From airline industry to restaurants to small gift shops, there is a chatbot for everyone today. Online businesses also talk about the growing content consumption on chat platforms, which points towards the rise of Bot-as-a-Service. If your company has a chatbot interacting in the marketplace, then you will gain better customer insights, which means advanced personalization, increased targeted marketing, accurate brand messaging, and reduction in contact center costs.

How chatbots redefine customer engagement in today’s business

Chatbots bring several advantages to the business ecosystem:

  • Bots are available 24X7 and can be pressed into continuous service without any interference.
  • Bots are inherently flexible, highly customizable, and can be developed at affordable costs.
  • Bots handle basic customer interactions and free up valuable human resources without affecting productivity.
  • Bots contribute to improved conversions as they study user’s online behavior to offer more personalized experience.
  • Bots are virtual assistants with multi-tasking abilities capable of revolutionizing customer interaction metrics.
  • Bots transform customer’s engagement with brands to a simple, natural and fun-filled activity.

Employing machine learning enables bots to gain a contextual perception and they can decide how to drive a conversation to its preferred destination. For example, Lenskart uses a bot that assists customers in product discovery and also pitches them the right products in minimal time. Similarly, Sephora’s (French-based cosmetic giant) online store uses a bot on the Kik messaging platform that easily allows customers to find out their preferred product. Major online retail players are already exploiting the potential of bots on their platforms to pitch numerous services, including ordering, shipping, order tracking, customer feedback, addressing complaints etc.

The future of chatbots

The more you understand your buyer personas and pain points, the better your customer service will be. Chatbots give a personal touch to your customer interactions which results in strong relationships and customer loyalty to your brand. On the surface, chatbots present themselves as mere human conversationalists, but they are poised to change the way humans interact with the digital world. Bots will transform communications and replace the most common interfaces that connect humans with connected devices.

Bots of the future are likely to become the “extra employees” of organizations so that HR personnel can focus more on strategic business functions. Soon, we will be moving from the age of content to context, where interactions tend to be more human and less text-based. What if discussing business is similar to how you chat with an intimate friend? Chatbot development is already a critical milestone in the journey of AI and the technology is progressing fast. Before too long, you will soon find yourself engaged in deep conversation with a chatbot on who will win the next Oscar or how the next Presidential elections will be!