The rise of the bot – an opportunity for business?
The customer service industry is standing on the precipice of change. World-leading IT analysts at Gartner predict that by 2020 there will be a 1,200% rise in the use of chatbot and virtual assistants in the customer service industry. It means customers will manage 85% of their relationship with any organisation without interacting with a human. What does this mean for the employer, employee and customer?
In this fast-paced digital age, it is my view that creating chatbots or virtual assistants actually has the potential to improve the customer experience interacting with your business. They are available 24×7, give fast responses and are always consistent in the language they use when interacting with a customer. A recent report by Business Insider cited that 44% of US consumers want chatbots over humans for customer relations. Designed and built correctly, virtual assistants can provide a customer details about an enquiry they raised, an answer to a billing enquiry or information about offers you may have running.
From an employers’ point of view, there are a number of key benefits. Using chatbots’ more informal approach removes some of the formality expected on a phone call and the time it takes to craft often long-winded emails. This can quickly reduce email traffic and long phone calls. Staff can generally run a couple of chats at once and, due to the fact that the technology always keeps the customer up to date, you will be able to free up employees to concentrate on resolving a customer’s issue not documenting it!
Employees shouldn’t fear automation – after all someone still needs to run it. It took less than 24 hours for Twitter to corrupt Tay, an innocent AI chatbot created by Microsoft and described as an experiment in “conversational understanding”. The case in point being that human interaction and management will still be required for some time yet, ensuring someone is always on hand speak to the customer when they require it.
Thinking more laterally and away from purely customer engagement, businesses could also consider using virtual assistant systems internally to improve staff engagement. Whether for recruitment on your website, company policy or enrolment into company schemes, and combined with applications like Flow or Zapier, it provides the opportunity to cut down on the hours updating endless spreadsheets.
With Microsoft now using Office 365 Teams and Azure as its preferred platform to allow you to create and publish your own chat bots I’m confident that the rise of the bot will continue at great pace – and businesses should start considering the pros and cons sooner rather than later. Ultimately, it’s about making sure that the technology you adopt is fully aligned to your business strategy.
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Article by Richard Flanders – Head of Customer Strategy and Account Management at Aura Technology.