Nowadays, humans are fascinated by the idea of having auto-operating AI-driven gadgets to ask them how they’re doing, and what they can do to help.
So, it’s no surprise that the use of chatbots are taking the tech industry by storm.
The innovative ways of simplifying customer service online. People speculate that one day, chatbots will be programmed to be more human-like than just automated.
With immediate responses, and connectivity, will chatbots be more trustworthy than regular human customer service reps in the future?
The answer might be yes.
Bonus: How to build your customized chatbots (Codeless – within 20 minutes)
Chatbots not only improve customer services, but they can also bring in more sales to companies. With an easy-to-use interface and customers’ increasing interest in the prospect.
In fact, with social media used as a marketplace, more people are searching for products and services in Facebook, Instagram, etc.
Moreover, the messaging companions to these apps like Facebook Messenger are where the active users are at.
According to Business Insider, US consumers in 2017 have spent an average of ten minutes in a messaging app – that number is expected to grow in the years to come.– Business insider
So, with more people – your potential customers – using messaging apps, shouldn’t you take advantage of having chatbots?
“A chatbot is a computer program that takes the place of a natural human conversation online”Nelson Herbst
The chatbot uses natural language processing, which translates human language into data that can be deciphered with recurring text and patterns and shape them into automated answers and responses.
Just like when you chat with a real person, users can talk to a chatbot via voice recognition, or type in the chat interface.”
Suggested read: Chatbot to Human handoff scenarios and how to handle it.
With that said, chatbots can interpret and process a user’s words or phrases, whether it is set to know English or is programmed to recognize multiple languages. Then, within seconds, the bot can provide an instant pre-set answer for users.
“You may find chatbots in platforms like Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp, Skype, or even a regular website,” adds Herbst. “Whichever platform you go to, chatbots will have an application layer, a database, APIs, and Conversational User Interface (CUI).”
Types of Chatbots
Different types of chatbots process data and deliver quick responses to users. No matter what kind they are, they all come with their own preset rules and programming. Consider these three types of chatbots:
1. Rule-Based chatbots
These chatbots have predefined paths to follow when holding a conversation with a user. As the conversation progresses, the user may be tasked to pick options that correspond to what their inquiry is; and then, the chatbot will determine the next step in the conversation, depending on what the user has selected.
- Tend to follow predetermined rules, to make scenarios simpler for both it and the user.
- Highly-structured, and compatible with customer support functions, making interaction easy for users.
- Able to answer basic customer inquiries like what the business hours are, the status of one’s delivery, tracking information, etc.
2. Intellectually-Independent chatbots
These are Machine Learning (ML) bots, which allows bots to learn from the user’s inputs and requests. As they learn from the data provided, they’ll recognize recurring patterns and common user behaviors to decide what to do with little to no human interference.
They understand specific keywords and phrases from either past experiences, or whatever is programmed in them.
if you write something like:
“I am having account login problems” in the chatbox on the interface, the bot may understand words like “problem,” “login,” and “account,” and then provide a predefined answer based on those words and phrases.
These bots are hybrid of both the rule-based and intellectually-independent chatbots.
With artificial intelligence (AI) as a simulation of human intelligence, it focuses on making it to where machines can work and think like people.
- Understand free language, but can also have a predefined flow to ensure accurate responses to a user’s problem or inquiry
- Remembering the context of a conversation and the user’s preferences
- Alternating from one conversation to another, depending on what needs the most attention at the moment
How do chatbots Work
Converting text or speech into structured data is a process for chatbots, especially when they’re programmed to process natural language. Regardless, it’s a process that has to be done, to give users a proper response to their questions and concerns.
Here is how natural language processing may work with chatbots:
- Some chatbots use tokenization to divide certain words into pieces – or, in this case, “tokens” – that can be quite useful or significant for the application.
- Named entity recognition looks for categories of words, like the name of a product, a user’s name, or an address; and the chatbot will know what those entities are when the user enters that information in the chatbox.
- Normalization processes text in such a way that it finds common spelling or typographical errors that could happen, whenever a user creates a typo or doesn’t know how it spells a certain word.
- Speech tagging allows the chatbot to identify parts of speech such as nouns, verbs, etc. This is so that the chatbot can understand complex sentence structures, and how they impact meaning.
- Dependency parsing helps chatbots look for subjects and objects in a given text, which will lead them to dependent phrases.
- Sentiment analysis lets chatbots watch and learn if a user is having a good experience, or if they still need help, but this time from a human customer support rep.
Why Are Chatbots Essential?
Starting to use chatbots might inspire both excitement and apprehension in a marketer. That’s because modern marketers understand the logistics that need to be considered when launching a new marketing channel – and chatbots provide a whole new way for prospects and customers to connect with you!
On the other hand, ‘chat’ or ‘instant messaging’ might conjure up archaic ideas of the chat of the past times – marketers don’t realize how much chat has changed and advanced, and how beneficial it is to have a chatbot on their site.
Live chat of the past was vastly different to chat now.
Chat support reps weren’t available 24/7 and in all respects, it wasn’t really ‘live’ chat – when contacting a company via their website chatbox, you’d be more likely to receive a message saying ‘thanks for contacting us – we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.’ This caused some problems for businesses and customers alike.
Perhaps best of all, they are really easy to implement. With very minimal work, you can get a chat tool live on your website – you don’t need anyone to help you with engineering or software, either!
It typically takes as little as half an hour to implement.
“Chatbots are known to boost operational efficiency, and save companies money while assisting customers in quick, convenient ways without the need for human interaction,” says Freya Richardson, a web developer writer at Brit student and Next coursework.
According to Forbes, 80% of marketers will be more apt to use a chatbot in some way or another by 2020.Forbes
So, it’s this reason alone that brands are investing in chatbots, in hopes of beating out their competitors and offering the best services and customer experiences out there.”
Chatbots for business
To better understand the importance of adopting the chatbot strategy in your business, let’s look at the benefits.
Reduce response time
Chatbots reduce the waiting time, making customers happy, helping the business run smoothly. Unlike (most) human reps, chatbots are smarter and faster, when giving immediate responses to customers.
Unlike humans, chatbots are available 24/7 and can engage with customers no matter what time of day (or night) it is.
And, chatbots tend to be conversational, where they can start a conversation and offer personalized recommendations. This is beneficial when boosting sales and customer experience. They can even operate during peak business hours to where there’s no additional cost to customer service.
Reduce operational cost
Chatbots are especially significant in online retail.
According to Juniper Research, the number of successful retail-chatbot interactions worldwide will reach 22 billion by 2023, which is more than an estimated 2.6 billion in 2019.
This is beneficial for businesses because chatbots help them save customer service costs of hiring more support reps, and training and paying them to do the work.
Increase customer engagement
Engaging with customers has never been easier with chatbots. Chatbots are an efficient way of reducing bounce rates while increasing conversions – turning possible leads into successful sales.
While you’re at it, chatbots can help you create sales funnels that nurture leads, keep them hooked, and eventually have them make a purchase.
The Future of Chatbots
As we mentioned earlier that messaging apps are used much more than social media platforms. It is proof that messaging is the future of communication and online platforms.
Facebook Messenger has over 1 billion people every month and is growing faster than Facebook.
So how exactly do bots fit into this picture?
If messaging apps are the #1 way for people to talk to each other, then every business is going to need a way to communicate on these platforms!
There are two obvious ways to do this:
- Either the business employs a bunch of people to sit and answer instant messages all day, similar to a call center. It’s not cost-effective and 99% of businesses don’t have the money or workforce to do this.
- The second option is the chatbots. The business ‘employs’ chatbots to respond instantly to questions, communicate with a lot of people simultaneously, and is incredibly cost-effective.
Bots will be faster than websites and even mobile apps – because people can just message the business, via the bot, directly over Facebook Messenger.
The websites load in seconds. Bots load instantly. People will always choose the easier, faster loading website – because that’s what people do!
Moreover, mobile apps need to be downloaded, which can be a frustrating process if you don’t have enough space on your phone or poor connectivity. Bots don’t need to be downloaded.
Finally, bots are even easier to use than apps and websites. Think about it – all apps and websites are designed differently, with varying visual interfaces. Bots on instant messenger apps fit into the instant messaging interface – no one needs to learn anything new!
For many applications that people will use today, a chatbot is there to assist when needed. Of course, a database is what sustains the chatbot, allowing it to provide the right answers and responses to every user.
Though the most important part is without natural language processing, the chatbot won’t know what to say, or how to respond to words and phrases.
- Natural language processing
- Interactive interface
- The right programming
Chatbots will be able to help businesses better engage with their customers, regardless of scale or industry.
Ultimately, there are 3 ways to develop and perfect your company’s chatbot.
Depending on what your company is, what your customers want, and how you address issues.
To get the best results, try experimenting with the different types of chatbots, and choose the best one.
And take comfort in the idea that chatbots, like other up-and-coming AI devices and machine-learning gadgets, may soon make life easier for everyone, especially in retail and customer service.
Michael Dehoyos is an editor at the PhD Kingdom and Academic Brits. He also contributes to numerous sites and publications like Origin Writings. As a content marketer, he helps companies improve their marketing strategies.
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