The Month of the Chatbot

During the last few years, chatbots have become a major topic in the discussion about finding ways to improve our customer interaction. The customers we work with haven’t seen the need to implement bots for any business processes before, but in the last month, multiple clients contacted us to ask about bots and how they could implement and use them.

Bots are becoming more interesting, because businesses are using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning in business software, consumer software, and appliances. A great example of this is that most of us already walk around with a chatbot in our pocket — Siri, Alexa, or Cortana.

The most common area we are asked to help with chatbots relates to customer support, because it is natural to extend the existing chat feature by connecting it to a bot. However, chatbots could perform a vast number of tasks—not only to sup-port our customers, but also to give our internal users a more fluent way to work. Advanced extended search, navigation, and automation of mundane tasks are just a few things that an AI-powered chatbot could support.

Such a chatbot could serve users more quickly, so they wouldn’t need to wait for a agent to become available or for support hours to begin. Chatbots would also save time for the support organization, as some support cases could be solved without human interaction. It is, however, important to understand chatbot limita-tions and make sure that end users understand that they are interacting with a computer and what it can and can’t do. Early in the conversation, a bot should identify if it can solve the issue and if not, route the task to a human as quickly as possible. The transition from a bot to human agent should be easy; the user should not need to reenter any information.

The customer relationship management (CRM) system is an ideal place to im-plement AI-powered chatbots, because a lot of the customer data is already avail-able in this system, and the need for additional integration projects is limited. Modern CRM systems are equipped with AI and machine learning out of the box, or they have the ability to easily link to powerful AI engines to provide the basis for this service.

Looking into the future, business software will likely increase the use of chat-bots. AI and machine learning are only in the beginning stages of their development potential, and we will see a lot of innovation in the next few years. Customers require more attention and better service, and chatbot use will be one competitive way to achieve this.