The pursuit of business efficiencies while maintaining a level of customer service has seen the rise of the chatbot, but are they a help or a hinderance for a company?
What is a chatbot?
A chatbot is a program that simulates human conversation (written or spoken), allowing people to interact with digital devices such as messaging applications, websites, mobile apps or through the telephone as if they were communicating with a real person.
You’ve probably used one when trying to contact your bank, get answers from a government department or interact with a business – sometimes with success and others with frustration.
The buzz around chatbots is rising
The buzz around them and the underlying artificial intelligence (another buzz in itself) that makes them work has become so loud that a number of online publications have emerged to keep up with the phenomenon, such as:
Probably the most notable is Google’s Duplex, which when launched in 2018 blew people away with its completely natural sounding voice.
But since then, Google Duplex has only mastered the art of making reservations for you on the phone.
No doubt it won’t take long to permeate all other aspects of virtual assistance.
What are the pros and cons of chatbots?
Before you rush out and replace your entire call centre (or just the front desk), here’s some pros and cons on chatbots to consider.
- They’re constantly available
Your business can respond 24/7 to customers instantly without requiring them to call between working hours.
- Reduced labour costs
Paying someone to be available to answer customer enquiries can be expensive, but chatbots can solve this problem.
- They’re multipurpose
Chatbots can not only answer questions but can be used to place orders, promote specials, and importantly collect data to be used in future promotional efforts.
- They’re not human – while some AI allows chatbots to learn, they still don’t have the quintessential human peculiarity of emotion (yet!), leading to frustration when questions can’t be answered and potential damage to your brand.
- Complex bots cost – while simple chatbots can be used effectively by most businesses to answer questions like opening hours or directing enquiries to real people, if you want turbo charged AI to replicate humans it can be expensive.
- Losing customer insights – you can lose touch with what your customers are saying which means you might miss feedback on growing issues as well as valuable insights on new opportunities for your business.
Ethical considerations regarding chatbots
When it comes to chatbots, there is a whole world of ethical considerations including:
- human bias (we only get what bots think we want)
- trust, and
- what happens to the data they collect?
Here’s an excellent article from The New Yorker magazine that dives deeper into these issues.
To chatbot or not to chatbot – that is the question?
There’s no doubt chatbots have a place in helping businesses achieve better outcomes, but they’re not for everyone.
If you want to know more about chatbots and whether they’re right for your business, we can help walk you through the options.
Give us a shout at (07) 5607 0899 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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