Chatbots have moved into a unique position over the past few years. Rather than using chatbots to resolve customer service issues solely on company websites or for inside use at organizations, businesses have begun branching out to help optimize both internal and external organizational needs.
While chatbots may be traditionally thought of as the standard instant message chat windows, they have evolved to meet the needs of today’s fast-paced consumer. When it comes to chatbots, the available outlets for them reside in the cloud, resulting in text-based bots and voice-activated bots like Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Google’s Home. In addition to these voice bots that are used for everything from playing music to looking up information, organizations have also dipped their toes into eCommerce with payment processing.
Consumers can now order and pay for pizza via Domino Pizza’s Messenger bot and check bank balances with ATB Financial’s Messenger banking bot.
Within the past year alone, Facebook has been a major player in slowly working its way to improve the way businesses think about chatbots. With the introduction of SMS text messages and bots for its Messenger platform, the social media giant has opened up an entire new way for businesses to engage with consumers and enhance their offerings. Mark Zuckerberg even created Jarvis, a virtual personal assistant courtesy of Morgan Freeman’s soothing voice, that uses artificial intelligence to play music, share daily schedules, set alarm clocks and more throughout the smart home.
Through the use of the combination of artificial intelligence and machine learning, chatbots have added a multitude of capabilities that help streamline operations by creating new efficiencies. More than just a way to communicate with coworkers, chatbots have slowly started to become a central conduit for most business processes.
IBM Watson fellow, vice president and chief technology officer, Rob High, recently shared his thoughts on Venture Beat about the future of chatbots and how it will enhance businesses’ customer service. He said, “As cloud and AI technology progresses, chatbots will continue to become more skilled in data analysis, natural communication, and emotional intelligence through deep conversational technology. But this is just the beginning — by using AI and the cloud, companies will continue to easily build even more personalized and engaging business solutions. Ultimately, cloud and cognitive technology will fuel the customer service interaction of the future by understanding human intention, learning, and reasoning at scale, and augmenting human thinking to help consumers make better purchases and smarter decisions across every aspect of the customer experience.”
In terms of streamlining operations, chatbots have made it possible to automate tedious administrative-related tasks that often obstruct employees from working on more meaningful work. They’re also enabling the completion of multiple tasks in fewer applications, which thereby reduces the amount of unnecessary distractions that may come with having too many items open at once.
While chatbots may seem like just another piece of technology to add onto the pile of other online services, the possibility for various aspects of daily interactions to be integrated into one offering is what makes it a value-add for businesses.
In the past few months, we’ve seen companies like American Express, Western Union, Domino’s Pizza, ATB Financial and more partner up with Facebook’s Messenger to help their businesses reach more people on a massive scale. Reaching the nearly 2 billion Facebook users on a platform they already use assists businesses in both connecting with an unprecedented amount of people and collect data to help enhance products and services.