We need to talk about chatbots

We need to talk about chatbots 

Why businesses all across the board will be introducing computer programs you can talk to in 2017

You don’t have to travel too far back in time to arrive at a period when the idea that you could have a conversation with a computer was a thing of pure science fiction. But while in science fiction talking computers are often wanton to turn against their human creators, most famously the sinister HAL 9000 in Stanley Kubrick’s film of 2001: A Space Odyssey, in reality chatbots are developing in such a way that they are becoming an increasingly major factor in how businesses will operate successfully moving into 2017.

At a conference in mid-2016, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella stated his belief that the future of technology lies in human language, describing conversation as the new interface and calling bots “the new apps”. Big-hitters like Amazon and Google have already launched connected home devices giving users the ability to order goods and services using their voice.

But as this technology grows ever more accessible and user-friendly, we look at four ways that chatbots can benefit businesses of all sizes in 2017.

 

It’s good to talk

For the overwhelming majority of customers, there could be nothing more straightforward than using your voice to place an order or pose a query to a company. With a chatbot such a request can be responded to immediately and conclusively, sparing a customer from the often arduous process of being put on hold or awaiting a response to an email.

Chatbots can also be programed in such a way that they will never stray from the message that you would like your business to deliver. While a human may alter the text from time to time, a chatbot never will and however carefully crafted your message is, you can ensure that it will not be changed. Of course, there will be some issues that a chatbot won’t be able to resolve, but they can always be used to tackle more simplistic tasks, freeing your staff up to deal with more urgent matters.

 

Give your sales team a bot boost

Chatbots aren’t just there to answer questions, they can ask them too. Using such computer software will give you the opportunity to glean some important information from your customers. An excellent example of this is the bot used by clothing giant H&M, which has been programed to quiz fashion conscious consumers on their style and their preference for certain looks and trends. After this information has been processed, the chatbot can make recommendations based on what they have been told.

Such technology can give companies an added advantage when it comes to marketing, creating a new means to engage with existing or potential customers and find out what ticks their boxes. The more a chatbot learns about a particular person, the more recommendations they can make and advice they can give during subsequent interactions.

 

Communication is becoming more personal

Recent data has shown that more and more people are using messenger apps more frequently. While we still get our news and entertainment from social media feeds, when it comes to conversing with friends, the growing trend is to tune into apps and platforms including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Slack.

Chatbots can be built into all major chat products, meaning that if this is where your customers are spending more time, then you can be there too. And it’s not all about marketing or driving sales, people are using chatbots to assist them in all aspects of their daily lives, from sending gentle reminders to go to the gym to creating a space to make notes and bounce ideas around. The possibilities are endless.

 

Customer Service that never sleeps

If you will permit one more reference to classic science fiction, it was the legendary author Philip K. Dick who famously asked “Do androids dream of electric sheep?” Well, we can say without any hesitation that chatbots don’t dream of anything precisely because they never sleep.

Using a chatbot will mean that your customers can have a direct line to you 24/7 and always expect a response to a request or query. You can also engage with customers who might just be feeling a little bit lonely, with it always being an option to program a chatbot to have a nice line in small talk. Tell a joke, relay some interesting information or even just ask someone how they are. They may be bots, but they can also be very human.

 

Whatever else happens in 2017, chatbots are guaranteed to be not just the technology that everyone is talking about, but also the technology that everyone is talking to.

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