As early as 2011, it was predicted that by the end of the decade, 85% of customers’ online interactions with businesses would be conducted without direct interaction with another person. The development of chatbots has proven not only that artificial intelligence is capable of guiding customers through online transactions, but that it can improve the way that we conduct business across all kinds of platforms.
So, What Are Chatbots?
To those unfamiliar with the term, chatbots are programs that engage with customers on company websites. They answer questions, provide information, and offer tips, recommendations, and other promotions to assist customers in a variety of ways. In an effort to compensate for the always-rising standards of online user-experience, chatbots have evolved to handle increasingly complicated tasks. Studies show that they are particularly favorable among Gen-X’ers and millennials. In a speech by David Marcus, Facebook V.P. of Messenger Products, he claimed that “People prefer to use Messenger to interact with companies,” and he continues to be proven correct by this analysis (emphasis added).
For example, Sephora reported that, due to services provided by their chatbot assistant, customers spend around $50 on average, considerably more than those who shop without it. Tommy Hilfiger’s chatbot, hosted through Facebook, leads 87% of customers to return after using it.
More Than a Shopping Tool
The goal among developers is to create as seamless of an experience as possible between the user and the chatbot that enables full discourse and communication. The healthcare industry, especially, has begun to embrace this potential. In order to cut down on crowded emergency rooms and doctor visits, chatbots are being developed to field questions and concerns relating to medical inquiries. The goal is to deploy chatbots to help and work with patients with less severe or pressing issues thereby keeping them from taking attention and resources away from patients more in need of care.
Deciding If It’s Right for You
With so much innovation on the horizon for chatbots, there are a wide variety of platforms to choose from for business owners seeking to deepen their user experience. Many have been built out so extensively that to the uninformed user it can be difficult to tell if you’re communicating with a real person or not. The better the chatbot is able to respond to customers, the more likely they are to continue interacting with it. In turn, a stilted conversation or frustrating experience with a chatbot may dissuade customers from proceeding with the interaction and potentially leading to a loss of business. This is why quality and pedigree should be taken into account by those looking to build out a chatbot of their own.
Chatbots continue to revolutionize the way that we interact with businesses and organizations online and, like most digital marketing tools, it isn’t going away anytime soon. It’s evident that their reach could soon be used to benefit other industries in need of alternate lines of communication in the same way that the healthcare industry has. Can you imagine using a chatbot to avoid going to the DMV or inquiring about your cable bill while avoiding a 45-minute phone call? We may just be scratching the surface in regard to what chatbots are truly capable of.