Businesses and the Emergence of Chatbots

By Dheeraj Kumar, IT Head, Panasonic India

Since the dawn of the internet boom in the latter part of 1990’s, brands have always sought on to find a way to communicate more innovatively with their customers. Social media in the most recent memory was the last innovative platform which the brands have and still continue to manoeuvre, in their own unique way to engage with different kind of audiences. Although the capabilities and sophistication have continued to evolve, at its core social media has remained a platform to facilitate human-to-human communication. Now that the robots have moved in, chatbots are fast pacing up the ladder towards becoming the new revolution in the technological space.

A chat robot more commonly known as a chatbot is a computer program that stimulates human conversation or ‘chat’ through artificial intelligence. For example, you could ask a bot on a travel site to book you a flight based on your preference. It would then go onto compare the prices provide options and then book the one deemed fit as per your choice. Bots possesses a unique ability to grow and respond more effectively because of its technological inclination on artificial intelligence. The AI assists the bot in understanding language, tone and different asks put forth by the consumer. Once a business makes up its mind to provide chat bot services to its customers, it simply needs to decide its target audience and the platform the bot will be providing its services on. That information is pivotal to the content and type of response the bot is supposed to send out, as since the response on twitter will be drastic to the response put forth on say Facebook.

Businesses are now seeing the wide implications of the technology and are now trying to successfully implement them in their business models in order to facilitate better response for the customers. Earlier this year beauty brand Sephora launched a chat bot on a popular messaging app Kik. The chatbot prompts Kik users who message it to provide more information about themselves through a quiz, and then offers personalised beauty tips, product recommendations and reviews. In addition, Kik users can purchase products that are referenced in chat without leaving the Kik app. Pizza hut is another example where the brand is leveraging its bot facility and is now taking orders via it on popular platforms like facebook Messenger and twitter.

These are some the few examples of the vast growing market of bot based customer service to propagate better touch point between the consumer and the brand. Intelligent bots are a result of technological convergence that we are seeing in the world now. As they grow, we can analyse their performance and understand their evolving nature and in turn augment their performance to an overwhelming horizon.

Content and customer service are the two pivotal manners in which the customers will engage with the bots. A substantial amount of consumers seek the support of social media platforms to engage with the brands rather than getting on call with the customer service. Most consumers refute from engaging with the latter because of the long waiting hours, they see social media as a platform with minimum turnaround time. Here they can ask technical questions, and even make purchases with the help of the bot.

The other way in which the customers will reap in benefits from the chat bot service is through personalization. The bots with the inflow of artificial intelligence within have been programmed to understand and grow in accordance with the questions and the manner in which the user is asking the questions. They already have a rich data source from where they can understand customer habits, their interests, behaviours, most valued relationships and share news updates accordingly.

While the future stands bright for the bots and businesses looking to absorb its influence within their business models there still scope for improvement before the technology completely takes over the customer service interface. Given the current trend it is likely that the bot inflow will engulf the market and businesses alike within the next three to five years. By then the ability of bots to handle text, grammar and human context will increase steadfastly and provide brands with a more advanced outlook on customer service and engagement. 

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