Microsoft recently made headlines when the company announced plans to acquire chatbot startup XOXCO — a move that many believe was executed to help Microsoft keep up with recent trends towards implementing chatbot tools.
The company, after all, is in direct competition with Google and Amazon, both of which offer chatbot development tools of their own; Now, by taking control over XOXCO, Microsoft can make their services more “sticky” and encourage programmers to continue developing with Microsoft technologies.
The chatbot market is heating up, with Google now making it possible to insert chatbots directly into interactive display ads. And earlier this year, eGain released Solve for Amazon Connect, providing an easier way to enhance the customer experience.
What exactly are chatbots, though? And do you need to offer them to your customers? Let’s explore.
What Is A Chatbot?
A chatbot is simply a computer program that can have intelligent, automated conversations with customers.
Chatbots have been around for decades. Their use has skyrocketed in recent years thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI). Chatbots are now becoming much better at understanding complex queries and holding advanced conversations with people.
For this reason, chatbots are becoming widely used in contact centers. A growing number of businesses are now integrating chatbots into their websites and apps to reduce wait times for customers. Chatbots have become an integral part of the customer experience. Seventy-three percent of customers, after all, now want to solve product or service issues on their own. Chatbots can help with this.
Some companies choose to build their own chatbots, using tools like Dexter and IBM Watson, while others outsource the process to third-party designers. Third party chatbot design can be expensive, however, which is why many are choosing to build their own solutions. Recent advancements in the platform as a service market make it easier and more reliable to build your own chatbots.
Are Chatbots A Good Idea?
It’s important to remember that chatbots are still an emerging technology, and while they can provide a handy service, it’s important to proceed with caution.
Chatbots, after all, are ultimately only as effective as the underlying AI they are using; not all AI chatbots offer the same level of consistency and command for language processing and response. Many chatbots are still very limited in how they can respond to queries.
If you want to implement chatbots into your contact center, you should consider using use them to aid agents, and not replace them. For instance, many contact centers today are now leveraging software that allows agents to oversee multiple automated chats at once. An agent, for instance, may oversee 10 or more chats in a single window. This way, an agent can let a chatbot do some of the heavy lifting when communicating with customers, and intervene when a conversation gets to the point that it needs a human touch. For some complex questions or customer satisfaction situations, it’s best to have a real person on standby to assist.
Chatbots are also being widely used to provide extended after hours care. For instance, many businesses lack the desire or means to answer phone calls after normal working hours. Chatbots can help field customer questions until live employees follow up. They are much less expensive than providing live after-hours support, as well. If used correctly, chatbots can help take the burden off of busy call center agents and provide enhanced self-service.