What can a chatbot do for your company?

To solve a problem or to achieve a goal people generally prefer to communicate than use web interfaces. In fact, for many years, instant messaging applications have been positioned at the top of the list of most downloaded apps, therefore integration with chatbots seems to be the most logical choice which will also give companies a competitive advantage.

A common misconception is that bots can only be used for customer services, but the reality is very different, since we can use them to fill out forms, to connect with databases, to input personalized information and to send notifications, etc.

Why send an email with a special offer, when we can connect with the customer using their own messaging application and take advantage of the data, we already have stored in our database, to fill in the information needed for an order?

WHAT IS A BOT?

The word bot is the abbreviation for robot and according to Wikipedia, it is a computer program that performs repetitive tasks over the Internet. This definition is correct to refer to bots that search the web for content (web crawler) or that aim to collect emails and then flood them with advertising, or even those that look for software vulnerabilities.

However, this definition is not very precise when it comes to social and conversational bots:

  • Social bots: are used in social networks and simulate human interaction. They generate messages automatically in an autonomous way and are used in campaigns to promote ideas, or to support a cause and recruit followers. They have already been successfully used in political campaigns, and political parties seem to be making increasingly more use of these technologies to discredit opponents. Unfortunately, they are also used to launch hoaxes and, considering the success they have, we might even wonder if the machines have finally passed the Turing test.
  • Conversational bots or chatbots: these are systems with artificial intelligence capable of simulating written or spoken conversations with human beings. They are usually presented as messaging applications such as Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, etc. The technology behind these services is natural language processing (NLP), but today they also incorporate other technology related to cognitive services such as smart vision, language recognition and translation, content moderation and text analysis.

Original Wikipedia articles: Bot, Social Bot and Conversational Bot.

WHY DO COMPANIES NEED CHATBOTS TO INTERACT LIKE BUSINESSES?

In the article, ‘4 Uses for Chatbots in the Enterprise’, Magnus Revang, research director at Gartner, was quoted saying “While most of the chatbot hype focuses on customer-facing scenarios, there are significant benefits for employees too. Chatbots need to be included in mobile app strategies to get ahead of this trend or it will disrupt patterns of employee interaction with no enterprise involvement.”

It’s no exaggeration to say that people no longer want to browse; they want to access information easily and immediately. Who hasn’t experienced the frustration of not being able to find specific content on a website? Today’s users are increasingly accustomed to interacting with assistants to get what they need, and companies need to renew their access channels to meet this demand.

According to Strategy Analytics data, more than 70% of consumers already use a voice assistance, and many agencies predict that by 2020, voice searches on the Internet will account for 50% of the total.

In conclusion, Magnus Revang is not unrealistic when it comes to stressing the need to include chatbots in our work dynamic and to be ahead of the trend before it strikes.

ADDING CHATBOTS TO OUR AUTOMATED PROCESSES

Chatbots have come to the business world to stay and there are already many examples of companies that are starting to use them to communicate with their customers. However, we can make much greater use of the bots, as they can be used to improve processes and advance our digital transformation.

Can we imagine a process managed by WhatsApp? Surely our salespeople would be delighted if they could have a process that allowed them to send their conversations through WhatsApp as a form of reporting on a sales action.

Recently, we demonstrated in the webinar “Mejore la atención al cliente integrando sus procesos de negocio con WhatsApp” (Improve customer service by integrating your business processes with WhatsApp) how our Costa Rican partner, GPG, was able to integrate business processes with WhatsApp and manage any business process.

HOW TO START USING CHATBOTS FOR BUSINESS INTERACTION

If we ask about the convenience of implementing a chatbot in the business environment, it is very likely that a large majority will respond positively. And it is also very likely that many will see it as a solution to provide 24/7 services to their customers. Although it is hard to believe, there is still a very high percentage of companies that take more than 24 hours to respond to their customers.

Chatbots can be integrated with our automated processes and can improve them in many ways.  Before we implement any new technology, the first step is to define our needs, and expectations from the chatbot, and determine what tasks the chatbot can help us with.

In general, a chatbot will help to simplify operations, so we must identify the areas in which it will be most useful. Subsequently, we need to measure, test and train the bot to achieve the best results.

There is a high percentage of users who prefer chatbot applications when they want to get answers to simple questions or resolve specific doubts. So, it seems inevitable that companies will consider using them to interact with their users (customers, employees, suppliers, etc) using new bot-based interfaces.

Another important benefit is that the use of chatbots will provide us with a history of all conversations, thus providing us with the data we need to optimize the tool, and therefore the organization.

Tomás Martí
tomas.marti@auraportal.com