Early 2016, saw the first real wave of artificial intelligence technology in the form of chatbots. Although they have technically been around a lot longer.
In the 1950s and ’60s, computer scientists Alan Turing and Joseph Weizenbaum contemplated the concept of computers communicating like humans do with experiments like the Turing Test and the invention of the first chatterbot program, Eliza.
Social media platforms like Facebook opened up and allowed developers to create a chatbot for their brand or service so that consumers could carry out some of their daily actions from within their messaging platform.
This development of A.I. technology has excited everyone, as the possibilities for the way we communicate with brands and business have been exponentially expanded.
The introduction of chatbots into society has brought us to the beginning of a new era in technology: the era of the conversational interface.
An interface that soon won’t require a screen or a mouse to use. There will be no need to click or swipe. This interface will be completely conversational, and those conversations will be indistinguishable from the conversations that we have with our friends and family.
KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, for example, was the first global airline to travel into the world of chatbots and AI when they launched a service chatbot via Facebook Messenger called BB, which stands for Blue Bot.
The primary function of BB is to help passengers book tickets and keep them up to date on flight status, gate changes, and similar data-driven functions.
The KLM Facebook bot makes passenger information viewable on any device, as long as the user is signed in through Messenger. Your flight info is instantly accessible and can be viewed afterward without WiFi. Travel itineraries are updated on the fly and any new information is quickly sent within the thread.
The company built the chatbot to assist its human support team, which handles more than 16,000 customer interactions weekly.
During the first six months of operation, BB sent nearly two million messages to more than 500,000 customers. Recently, KLM expanded the reach of the chatbot by hooking it up to Google Home, adding an audio/voice layer—an interesting augmentation.
Chatbots are reshaping online experiences
According to a joint report produced in the US including SurveyMonkey and Salesforce
- 38 percent of respondents say they have used online chat in the prior year.
- 30 percent indicate they’ve used a company’s mobile app to interact.
- 28 percent have engaged with a business in social media.
- 15% of American adults have used a chatbot.
- 16% own a smart speaker like Amazon Alexa.
As of 2018, 15 percent of American adults say they have used a chatbot to interact with a company in the prior 12 months.
37 Percent of Americans Would Use a Chatbot in an Emergency
The survey respondents were asked what they would use a chatbot for, if available.
Interestingly, the most common use case for chatbots is “getting a quick answer in an emergency” at 37 percent.
The second-most-common use case is “resolving a complaint or problem” at 35 percent.
Getting detailed answers or explanations is how 35 percent of respondents might use a chatbot.
Other uses of chatbots include:
- Making a reservation: 33 percent
- Paying a bill: 29 percent
- Adding yourself to a mailing list: 22 percent
24-Hour Service Is the Number One Benefit from Chatbots
Participants in this survey were also asked about the primary benefits of chatbots, provided they were available and working for the online services these Americans used most.
Speed and availability are where chatbots are perceived to provide the most value to consumers.
Specifically, 64 percent of respondents said “24-hour service” is a benefit of chatbots.
The second most mentioned benefit is “getting an instant response,” mentioned by 55 percent of the participants.
“Getting answers to simple questions” (55 percent) and “easy communication” (51 percent) were also mentioned by more than half of respondents.
Chatbots Are Equally Popular Among Millennials and Baby Boomers
The research discovered that the perceived benefits of chatbots are roughly equivalent among younger Millennials consumers and older Baby Boomer Americans.
In fact, in several areas, Boomers are actually MORE bullish about chatbots’ potential that are members of the younger cohort.
For example, 61 percent of participating Baby Boomers say a potential chatbot benefit is “getting an instant response,” while just 51 percent of Millennials say the same.
Let’s recognize that “potential benefits” do not equal “usage,” but these findings indicate that older Americans are at least open to the premise of useful chatbots.
In almost every case, respondents indicate they believe chatbots offer more benefits when communicating with businesses, in comparison to apps. The biggest difference is in the area of “getting quick answers to simple questions,” where 69 percent of participants say chatbots are up to the task, compared to 51 percent for apps.
Users also believe chatbots to be superior in the areas of “24-hour service” (62 percent versus 54 percent and “ability to easily register a complaint” (33 percent versus 24 percent) among others.
Apps do slightly better than chatbots in just three categories, but they are all important:
- Convenience (chatbots, 53 percent versus apps, 57 percent)
- Ease of communication (chatbots, 35 percent versus apps, 41 percent)
- A good customer experience (chatbots, 28 percent versus apps, 30 percent)
It’s interesting that in the circumstances where users believe chatbots to be superior, they’re FAR superior.
Where the conversation is heading
While A.I. chatbot technology is still very much in full development swing, these breakthroughs can lead us to surmise about how close we are to an era when we won’t just be conversing with brands, but technology in general.
An era when a screen for a device will be considered antiquated, and we won’t have to struggle with UX design.
Companies like Amazon and Google are already exploring this with the Amazon Echo and Google Home products; these are screenless devices that connect to Wi-Fi and then carry out services.
Thanks to IoT (Internet of Things), which is the implementation of an internet connection into devices beyond just our phone or computer — such as cars, TVs, stereos, and even washing machines — all these Wi-Fi devices have been entering our lives.
The era of a better interface is almost here
The advent of these natural language processing chatbots are bringing us toward a very exciting time for technology. Thanks to chatbots, we are currently no longer sandboxed into one graphical area at a time to carry out our daily actions.
Users no longer have to exit their messaging app to open their mobile browser and plug in a URL to make a dinner reservation, in the processing clicking a dozen or so graphical areas.
We will now be able to chat with friends, then chat with the restaurant’s bot in the same digital space to reserve a table, uniting an entire evening’s services into one conversation.
Chatbots can play a key part in a business to consumer strategy. For more information on how a conversational layer can create increased customer satisfaction and better brand experience, contact the clare.ai team for a customized solution for your business.
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