Blog · 27 Mar 2018

The digital customer: Chatbots create a better experience

In the penultimate blog exploring our digital customer research, Thomas Duecke takes a leap into the future, discussing the appearance of artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots.

Advances in Artificial Intelligence mean that chatbots are making contact centres more efficient and customers happier.

Of all the technologies we’ve talked about in this series so far — including video, messaging and voice — chatbots are perhaps the most futuristic. They’re computer programmes that enable automated conversation with customers. Of course, chatbots as a technology have been around for many years, but they’ve only recently become ubiquitous.

In our research, ‘Chat, tap, talk: Eight key trends to transform your digital customer experience’, we discovered that for 63 per cent of consumers, the key draw of chatbots is that they offer an instant response. And 73 per cent said that they think chatbots would improve the customer service of large organisations.

The question is: why has this technology suddenly jumped into the limelight?

Almost science fiction

The answer is AI.

Recently developed smart programmes use AI to make it much easier for chatbots to understand spoken language and give useful responses. And, thanks to modern technology, you can type and talk with ease, switching between the two at will. This makes it a very versatile form of communication, and hence the popularity — something it never really had before.

Today, the main limitation of this technology is the databases it runs on; it needs to have good information put in, to be able to give good information out. But, even at the level we have now, it’s quickly making businesses more efficient. It’s interesting to note that these AI powered chatbots are also reducing the pressure on human agents, by taking on some of the more monotonous elements of contact centre jobs. Yet it’s unlikely that chatbots will replace humans any time soon, as there’s still a need for that unique human touch in a conversation — particularly when talking about something complex.

The key thing to remember about chatbots, however, is that they make life easier for consumers. And 80 per cent of consumers buy more from companies that make it easier to do business with them.

Stay tuned for the next and final blog in this series, all about customer behaviour.