Have you opened any medical or banking or insurance website lately? Chances are more than not, you would encounter their chatbots. These chatbots have been playing a major role for such emergency and daily utility services during the post covid-19 era, helping them cover effective communications, when manpower was in itself in short supply due to the lockdowns. Chatbots are basically software packages with the ability to chatter or communicate. They are the small text head that pops up on one end of a website, offering to clarify any product or service related issues. They mostly look like messengers, but other more complex forms of chatbot are also available.
Chatbots are technically Artificial Intelligence based communication robots that can answer any or particular queries asked by viewers, be it on a website or a mobile app. Chatbots are getting smarter by the day. With the help of evolving algorithms and a wider spectra of information and data provided, they are now even known to develop and adapt to their own ‘personalities’. In fact, Alexa and Google Home are extended versions of chatbots with technology to even provide answers through human voice.
Deciphering Chatbot Advantages
Chatbots have been catering to varied industries, in varied forms. We herein enumerate their advantages that seem to cement their space in the upcoming digital times:
1. Instant Response
Chatbots provide instant response to a customer or a viewer of a certain website page or an app. They provide help then and there. Higher response rate leads to higher service satisfaction for the customers and higher user retention rates for the business at hand.
Reports suggest that more than half of viewers tend to lose interest in a page if it takes more than 5 seconds to load. Chatbots provide instant response, even if there are a large number of simultaneous visitors viewing a page. The customers do not have to call on customer care helplines and wait in ques to get support.
2. The perfect Salesman
Your website or your app is your pseudo-store that sells your products and services. But, this pseudo-store has no salesman or saleswoman to help customers zero in or their choice of products. Your chatbot could be that perfect salesman.
3. Provide Invaluable User Data
Chatbots are software packages that engage with customers to resolve their issues like a salesman. But, they also tend to aggregate a lot of user choice and requirements data, that can be processed through appropriate algorithms and used by parent companies to understand user behavior patterns. For instance: an insurance company’s website chatbot can help its parent companies about their most viewed products as well as about product details that lead to user confusion or disengagement. Appropriate changes could then be made to promote user viewership and loyalty.
4. Chatbot Options
There are varied kinds of chatbots available in the market as of now. A company may choose a simple one with a simple set of issues to resolve or an AI-backed complex one whose backend resolves with greater user experience. A company may even employ a simple chatbot for simple issues that would further escalate the complex issues to a dedicated customer care employee. The choice and utility belongs to the requirements and funds of the customers.
5. A One-time Cost
Chatbots are easier to maintain, than an employee as they require only one time major cost inclusion (when they are developed). Chatbot maintenance and upkeep are generally very low cost operations, as against the high salaries required to be paid to each of the customer care representatives.
Since, chatbots are software packages that do not tire out, they provide 24X7 availability of customer support and other intended services, without much ado. In this era of globalization and digitization, when any customer may visit your pages at any time; chatbots help to provide customer support anytime everytime.
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Chatbots have disadvantages too..
1. No Humane Touch
The major issues with a chatbot is that they are too ‘machine-ly’. They take inputs, analyze issues, and provide answers like a machine. There is no emotional or humane touch, whatsoever. For instance: if a customer is anxious or unhappy with their purchase, it is necessary to first help them calm down and then resolve the issue. Chatbots cannot provide this support. Reports suggest that more than 46% of users do not wish to engage with chatbots, even if they are able to resolve issues.
If somehow, the user queries are not in line with the issues already fed to them, the chatbot might be unable to solve the query altogether. They are mostly unable to improvise, unless and until backed by very complex AI algorithms.
2. Understanding Issues
Chatbots utilize Natural Language Processing or NLP algorithms to understand human language and words and then convert them into commands for further analysis. Due to differences in language dialects and versions, the chatbots are at times unable to decipher the correct meaning of the words said which further leads to dubious commands. Herein, the chatbots may end up proving wrong answers.
3. High Initial Cost and Maintenance
Development and Maintenance of chatbots is expensive. They require specific platforms, technology tools and experts to develop. You would have to hire app developers carefully in order to get an effective chatbot system developed, that fulfils all user requirements. They also need to be maintained by providing a constant upkeep of data.
Businesses are preferring usage of chatbots these days. With human resources being expensive and proliferated with issues like leaves, loyalty, etc.; chatbots seem to be their ultimate respite. But, as of now chatbots are only able to handle simple issues well. In order to provide human to human feel and understanding in complex scenarios; a team of a chatbot as well as a smaller customer support department could be the optimum solution. They could together handle all situations, customers and complexities to the hilt. But, the choice of the two still remains with you, the business owner. We hope this article helps you make your smart choice..
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Are Chatbots able to Churn Effective Communications? was originally published in Chatbots Life on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.