January 18, 2017
If you’re a big fan of technology like me, and have been avidly reading up on all recent technological developments, then you must be wondering “What’s all the hype around chatbots?”
Now chatbots aren’t really that new to the IT scene. The first one popped up on the technology timeline as early as 1966, in the form of MIT’s Eliza. For the first time, the world witnessed a machine conversing with a human being, and with it, a whole new world of possibilities promised to follow. The Russian Eugene Goostman, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana soon came up over the decades. It was all well and good, but truth be told, none of these prototypes actually touched the functionality aspect of chatbot platforms.
Until now. A friend of mine recently told me the marvels of a new ‘employee’ he’d hired. He proudly told that his new ‘employee’ worked 24/7, and had nearly doubled his company’s efficiency. Of course, the new ‘employee’ he’d been boasting about was a chatbot for business that he’d developed.
While I had my scepticism, he went on to explain how chatbots are now helping run small businesses across the globe:
Answering Customer Queries
The most effective way bot platforms can help businesses is through customer care services. Instead of setting up a dedicated team to answer customer queries, let a chatbot for customer service deal with them. It saves time and most importantly, human resources.
Instead of setting up dedicated portals for payments, you can employ a chatbot to make payment gateways within chat-boxes. China’s WeChat was one of the first ones to integrate easy payments though chatbots.
A chatbot has multiple conversations throughout the day with customers, and hence is an important point of contact for harvesting and remembering crucial customer preferences. This information helps influence future sales.
Instead of forcing customers to sift through inventories, a chatbot can act as a point of contact for sales as well. Customers can drop a text in the chat-box, and the chatbot can directly display the relevant options, within the chat-box itself.
The cost-saving aspect comes as a cumulative effect of all of the above points. Apart from that, chatbots have predefined set of scripts, that help ensure all processes are carried out with minimum scope of error.
Chatbots for business is really a thing now, and not just some fancy cooked-up sci-fi story. Every day, millions of businesses are benefitting through them. It’s a far cry from what Eliza could do in 1966, but certainly not the end. There’s more to come from chatbots.
Stories by Michale Eric