Chatbots: Where Artificial Intelligence and Customer Service Meet

By Alex Blicharz, Software Engineer

Published: December 12, 2017

In 2016, messaging platforms surpassed social media in terms of global active users, and the trend is holding true. So what does this mean for digital marketing efforts? Chatbots.

What are chatbots?

Put simply, chatbots are a form of artificial intelligence that can be interacted with via chat, such as Facebook chat. These bots can be useful for answering simple questions, aiding in customer service, and alleviating some of the workload from an organization’s human staff.

Why should marketers care about chatbots?

The use of messaging apps is on the rise. In fact, six of the top 10 apps used globally are messaging apps. In addition to increased usage, we are also seeing heightened levels of engagement on these platforms. According to Pypestream, the open rate for mobile messages is near 98 percent, making it much higher than the reported 22 percent rate for emails. The retention rate of messaging apps is also about double that of other traditional app options. Clearly, consumers are using messaging applications in their daily lives, and chatbots provide a way for marketers to tap into that.

Chatbots can also lead to valuable insights. By monitoring an organization’s chatbot, certain patterns may become apparent, leading to valuable findings about consumers that may be otherwise hard to retrieve. For instance, repeatedly unanswered questions may help a brand identify certain pain points that they did not even know existed.

What are the benefits of using chatbots?

  • They have the ability to take over a lot of the simplistic customer service questions consumers have, freeing up more human capacity for more important, or complicated issues.
  • They can cater to shorter attention spans and a heightened need for immediacy. Chatbots can help the customer get straight to the information they are looking for, rather than the consumer having to hunt around.
  • They can help personalize the consumer’s experience on the website by providing a sense of customized interaction.

What are potential drawbacks to using chatbots?

One of the costs associated with chatbots is time. Chatbots, like any form of artificial intelligence, are learning as they go. They need to be constantly curated and maintained in order to maximize effectiveness. Another potential issue is that there are many variations and choosing the correct one for your company’s needs is key. Some chatbots simply pick up on keywords and reply with automated responses, which can cause it to respond inaccurately or incompletely. However, it also possible to build a chatbot with more advanced and intuitive processes, which are better for effectively handling customer service questions. It is important that when building the Bot, the company ensures that it is capable of offering these “smarter” capabilities.

It is also worth noting that chatbots should be used in partnership with human employees and not as a replacement. Their artificial intelligence makes them a useful complement to an organization’s staff, but they are not yet strong enough to fully replace human capacities.

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