How Chatbots Can Help Your Organisation Beat the Competition

    The days when Artificial Intelligence (AI) was the go-to chitchat subject amongst Sci-Fi films aficionados only are far behind us. What we’re seeing today is AI becoming the centrepoint of the future of tech narrative.

    Last year alone, Gartner registered a 500% increase in the number of calls it received from its clients inquiring about AI, while tech giants – the likes of Microsoft and Google – are claiming in unison: AI is here and it’s here to stay!

    That’s why AI will be a central topic at the Insight Technology Show next month, as while it is easy to think this somewhat sudden interest in AI is the by-product of technological advancement, we believe there’s more to that. In fact, solely by looking at the market, it is rather easy to spot the real driver for AI’s increase in popularity: consumers.

    The changing nature of customer expectations

    Today consumer expectations go way beyond traditional differentiators like product or price. Our own research showed that organisations are struggling to address customer expectations, with 9 in 10 business leaders facing challenges when delivering good customer service.

    Technology underpins the modern customer relationship, whether it be delivering services, checking the status of orders, or even making a complaint when something goes wrong. More than ever, customers want personalised services.

    There are three tools that stand out in particular as potentially beneficial to customer relationships – and yes, artificial intelligence is one of them. In fact, data analytics (53%), mobile applications (47%) and AI (37%) are the tool that are powering this new customer-centric business strategy.

    The benefits of artificial intelligence

    A few question the benefits of AI: implementing AI can be cost-effective, complementary to customer engagement and useful in closing talent gaps. Some are sceptic of its potential: by cutting down time spent on administrative tasks AI can increase business productivity.

    But all of them agree: AI is a hot topic these days. This is especially true given just how much digital disruption is sweeping across all industries – impacting both small and medium businesses (SMBs) and large enterprises – through a number of ways such as re-shaping customer expectations and forcing new customer service standards.

    Using digital technologies means organisations of all sizes can automate various repetitive operations that have previously relied on the cognitive ability of mass manpower. This includes tasks such as basic reasoning, analysis of information within a specified context, problem solving and interpreting speech. While larger organisations have the luxury of resources that can absorb these tasks, efficiency is critical for smaller organisations that lack such resources.

    Let’s give SMBs a competitive edge

    Over the past years, we’ve seen a steady rise of chatbot technology. This can be attributed to several factors, such as the widespread of Internet-enabled technology, rapid progression in the study of natural language processing and impressive leaps in the field of machine learning.

    While it is a culmination of these technologies that have made chatbots a viable solution for businesses, the real catalyst has been a wider shift in communication behaviour. When Neil Papworth, a 22-year-old telecoms engineer sent the first SMS message in 1992, he probably wasn’t aware that the humble text message would play a role in fundamentally changing the way that human beings interact.

    By using virtual chatbots to provide an interactive customer service experience, there’s no need to invest in large call centres which saves a huge amount of money in the long run. For example, compared to human workers, chatbots are more efficient in delivering customer support around the clock as they can work uninterrupted – not needing breaks, holidays or sleep.

    When paired with AI software, chatbots can reward customers with a far more personalised experience. So, if a chatbot was to wish a customer happy birthday, it would reply on data from previous interactions to tailor the conversation.

    No wonder Gartner believes that chatbots will power 85% of all customer service interactions by 2020.

    The exciting year ahead

    This year has been coined the year of the chatbot.

    At the same time, chatbots and AI aren’t a panacea, and SMBs have to keep in perspective so many other aspects of modern business.

    For instance, similar AI technologies such as face recognition and robotics are great examples of solutions that can help organisations offer specialist, differentiated products and services to gain a competitive advantage.

    Of course, we must remember that while the technology may have changed, the fundamental rules of customer care remain the same. Like any technology – chatbots are a means to an end. Customer care has always been, and will be, about creating meaningful interactions and listening to customers.

    Whether cloud, data analytics, AI or another technology, organisations are still coming to terms with how to use these technologies to shape their organisations in the right way. But only when they are managing the use of technology effectively, can organisations look to transform.

    Learn more in our seminar titled ‘Chatbots and AI: Being Human in a Digital World’ at the London Technology Conference. Register here.