Chatbots are blowing up the online business world. This artificial intelligence system is shaping the way businesses interact with consumers. It streamlines communication between your brand and your customers and offers round-the-clock service. With this feature, you’ll be able to provide better customer service and foster a loyal client base.
Chatbots have grown and improved over the years; so much so that large companies such as Lyft, Spotify, and The Wall Street Journal have started using bots to enhance the overall customer service experience. Other businesses have started to follow suit as well. Studies show that in 2020, 80% of businesses plan to use chatbots.
If you’re on the fence of whether you should use chatbots for your business, here are a few reasons to help you make up your mind.
- Round-the-Clock Customer Service
Your consumers demand constant accessibility. They expect you to answer their queries as soon as possible — whether it’s on a Sunday afternoon or wee hours in the morning. Unfortunately, your customer support staff need a break, but the good news is that your chatbot doesn’t.
When customers’ needs happen to be outside of business hours, you need a way to answer their questions even when your customer service staff isn’t available. Chatbots offer intelligent answers to inquiries so your customers wouldn’t have to wait until business hours. The best chatbots can hold insightful conversations and in most cases, your customers won’t even know they’re talking to an AI.
2. Seamless Communication
Consumers tend to compare different products before they purchase from you. Chatbots are able to offer additional information to should your customers ask for it. Some chatbots can even send video content or give you a discount code. Many chatbots use natural language processing methods, so they can accurately analyze customer inquiries and deliver a relevant response.
3. Chatbots are Scalable
Have you ever hung up on a customer support call because they kept you waiting for a long time? If you didn’t like to wait, chances are, your customers feel the same way too. So if you make them wait for hours or days, there’s a great chance they’ll choose your competitors over you.
With chatbots, your customers can receive answers to their questions in real-time. Whether there are 10 or 1,000 people on your website, a chatbot can answer all their queries at the same time. There’s no limit to the number of questions a chatbot can answer.
4. Save Money on Customer Service
Since chatbots can answer thousands of inquiries at once, you can free up some of your customer representatives so they can focus on more demanding tasks. Chatbots can also help you save money by eliminating the need to hire more customer support agents.
Furthermore, having chatbots boosts productivity in the workplace by providing quick solutions to basic inquiries. In this way, you’ll be able to lower operational costs, save time, and cut down on manpower. According to research entitled “Chatbots: Retail, eCommerce, Banking & Healthcare 2017–2022”, chatbots can allow companies to save more than $8 billion annually by 2022.
5. Personalized Customer Interaction
Whether they’re shopping in your store or browsing online, personalization is an important part of your customer’s buying experience. However, it’s harder to connect with potential customers if they’re just browsing behind a screen. With the help of your chatbots, you’ll be able to send out personalized messages to your target audience.
By personalizing your messages, you can get to know your customers; figure out their likes and dislikes. This allows you to create better content, target specific audiences, make better recommendations for your customers. Today’s chatbots can interact with people as effectively as a human customer service agent would.
6. Generate More Leads for Your Business and Increase Conversion
As mentioned, using chatbots can help you figure out your customers’ preferences and interests. With valuable information at your fingertips, you can create customized marketing efforts that actually work. You can send out ads, discount codes, and other promos that your customers will surely love.
Not only do chatbots monitor conversations in real-time, but they can also analyze data to suggest relevant products to your customers. In fact, 47% of potential customers would purchase the items suggested by a chatbot.
You can program your bot so it can recognize certain keywords, such as “purchase”, “buy”, or “interested”. In this way, you can prioritize customers who may need help completing a transaction. With just a few taps, you’ll be able to know scheduled appointments, reservations, purchases, and more.
7. Less Stress for You
According to a recent survey conducted by a chatbot developer called Helpshift, the majority of the respondents (around 94%) dislike contacting customer support. According to them, the current methods of handling customer support has done little to ease the dread of reaching out to customer service.
The same survey also discovered that people are more likely to welcome the use of chatbots to answer their inquiries. In fact, at least 70% of the respondents said that they would use chatbots as long as it accomplishes important tasks human customer service agents usually do, such as seamless communication, reducing the time it takes to solve certain issues, no wait time to contact customer support, immediately get a customer service representative on the phone if need be, and simplify the overall customer service process.
So far, chatbots are able to exceed expectations in terms of solving issues, streamlining communications, and simplifying customer service.
It’s no doubt that chatbots are the next big thing if they aren’t already. It’s important for entrepreneurs to adapt to changing trends to keep up with the competition. But let’s face it — the best chatbots in the market are expensive.
As of 2017, creating a chatbot through existing apps can cost $3,000 to $5,000. On the other hand, building a chatbot from scratch can go up to $30,000 to $150,000.
This can cost a lot, especially for smaller companies. If you’re in a cash pinch, you might want to consider applying for small business loans.
Taking out a small business loan can help fund your chatbot project. There are different types of small business loans available for entrepreneurs. Make sure to consult with a financial advisor to know which loan works best for you.
How 5G Will Impact Customer Experience?
5G is the breakthrough technology promised to bring new innovations, change the way people are traversing through the Internet with its faster connection speeds, lower latency, high bandwidth, and ability to connect one million devices per square kilometre. Telcos are deploying 5G to enhance our day-to-day lives.
“When clubbed with other technologies like Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things (IoT), it could mean a lot to a proliferation of other technologies like AR/VR, data analytics.”
5G can be a boon for businesses with the delivery of increased reliability, efficiency and performance if it can be used to drive more value to the customers as well as the business stakeholders and meet their expectations with the help of digital technologies as mentioned below:
Consumer Expectations are on the Rise
In modern days, customer service teams provide and manage customer support via call centres and digital platforms. The rollout of 5G is expected to unleash more benefits with a positive impact on customer service as they improve their present personalized service offerings to customers and allow it to further create new solutions that could develop their customer engagement to win great deals.
For instance, salespeople in a retail store are being imbibed with layers of information about customers’ behaviour and choices that will help them build a rich and tailored experience for the customers walking down the store.
Video Conferencing/streaming is Just a Few Clicks Away
Video support is considered to be a critical part of Consumer Experience (CX) and will open new avenues for consumer-led enterprises.
“As per a survey conducted by Oracle with 5k people, 75% of people understand the efficiency and value of video chat and voice calls.”
CX representatives used the video support feature to troubleshoot highly technical situations through video chat and screen sharing options with few clicks, potentially reducing the number of in-house technician visits during critical situations like coronavirus pandemic.
Also, nowadays video conferencing is facilitated with an option to record a quick instant video describing the process/solution and discarding the long process of sending step-by-step emails. Enterprises can develop advanced user guide for troubleshooting issues featuring video teasers for resolving common problems.
However, high-definition video quality is preferable for video conferencing, chat and demands for an uninterrupted network with smooth video streaming. This means operators need to carry out network maintenance activities on regular intervals to check whether there is any kind of 5G PIM formation on these network cell towers that could reduce receive sensitivity and performance, thereby deteriorating network speed, video resolution etc.
Thus, PIM testing becomes critical for delivering enhanced network services without interference, necessary for high-resolution online video conferencing, chats, and many more.
Increased Smart Devices and the Ability to Troubleshoot via Self-Service
The inception of 5G will give a boost to the IoT and smart device market which is already growing.
These smart devices IoT connections are expected to become twice in number between 2019 and 2025 i.e. more than 25Bn as per the GSM association which is an industry organization representing telecom operators across the globe.
With lower latency and improvisation in reliability, 5G has a lot more to offer as it connects a large number of devices. This will ultimately curb the manpower needed for customer support thereby reducing labour costs for the enterprise. Moreover, these IoT connected devices and high-speed network of 5G permit consumers to self-troubleshoot these devices at their own homes.
In order to facilitate these high-resolution networks, telecom operators need to perform 5G network testing and identify issues, take corrective actions that could improve their network and integrate with advanced capabilities, making it more efficient than previous connections with the wider network coverage.
Enhanced Augmented Reality (AR) / Virtual Reality (VR) Capabilities
As these tools are being widely used, customers are provided with virtual stores or immersive experiences using AR to view a sneak peek of the products in their house in real-time.
“‘Augmented Retail: The New Consumer Reality’ study by Nielsen in 2019 suggested that AR/VR has created a lot of interest in people and they are willing to use these technologies to check out products.”
Analysis of Bulk Data With Big Data Analytics
Enterprises have to deal with a huge volume of data daily. 5G has the ability to collect these data and with its advanced network connectivity across a large number of devices, it delivers faster data analytics too.
Companies will be able to process this vast amount of unstructured data sets combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI) to extract meaningful insights and use them for drafting business strategies like using customer behaviour data sets to study their buying behaviour and targeting such segment with customized service offerings as per their requirement.
As per Ericsson’s AI in networks report, 68% of Communications Service Providers (CSPs) believe improving CX is a business objective while more than half of them already believe AI will be a key technology that will assist in improving the overall CX. Thus, big data analytics will be crucial for harnessing all new data and enhance the customer experience.
Looking from a CX point of view, 5G benefits will far extend beyond the experience of a citizen. Real-time decisions will accelerate with the prevalence of 5G and application of other new-age technologies like AI, ML, IoT, etc. As 5G deployment will continue to grow, so is the transition of each trending processes mentioned above that will ultimately improve your business in terms of productivity, gain a large customer base and bring more revenues.
Resiliency And Security: Future-Proofing Our AI Future
By Allison Proffitt, AI Trends
On the first day of the Second Annual AI World Government conference and expo held virtually October 28-30, a panel moderated by Robert Gourley, cofounder & CTO of OODA, raised the issue of AI resiliency. Future-proofing AI solutions requires keeping your eyes open to upcoming likely legal and regulatory roadblocks, said Antigone Peyton, General Counsel & Innovation Strategist at Cloudigy Law. She takes a “use as little as possible” approach to data, raising questions such as: How long do you really need to keep training data? Can you abstract training data to the population level, removing some risk while still keeping enough data to find dangerous biases?
Stephen Dennis, Director of Advanced Computing Technology Centers at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, also recommended a forward-looking posture, but in terms of the AI workforce. In particular, Dennis challenged the audience to consider the maturity level of the users of new AI technology. Full automation is not likely a first AI step, he said. Instead, he recommends automating slowly, bringing the team along. Take them a technology that works in the context they are used to, he said. They shouldn’t need a lot of training. Mature your team with the technology. Remove the human from the loop slowly.
Of course, some things will never be fully automated. Brian Drake, U.S. Department of Defense, pointed out that some tasks are inherently human-to-human interactions—such as gathering human intelligence. But AI can help humans do even those tasks better, he said.
He also cautioned enterprises to consider their contingency plan as they automate certain tasks. For example, we rarely remember phone numbers anymore. We’ve outsourced that data to our phones while accepting a certain level of risk. If you deploy a tool that replaces a human analytic activity, that’s fine, Drake said. But be prepared with a contingency plan, a solution for failure.
Organizing for Resiliency
All of these changes will certainly require some organizational rethinking, the panel agreed. While government is organized in a top down fashion, Dennis said, the most AI-forward companies—Uber, Netflix—organize around the data. That makes more sense, he proposed, if we are carefully using the data.
Data models—like the new car trope—begin degrading the first day they are used. Perhaps the source data becomes outdated. Maybe an edge use case was not fully considered. The deployment of the model itself may prompt a completely unanticipated behavior. We must capture and institutionalize those assessments, Dennis said. He proposed an AI quality control team—different from the team building and deploying algorithms—to understand degradation and evaluate the health of models in an ongoing way. His group is working on this with sister organizations in cyber security, and he hopes the best practices they develop can be shared to the rest of the department and across the government.
Peyton called for education—and reeducation—across organizations. She called the AI systems we use today a “living and breathing animal”. This is not, she emphasized, an enterprise-level system that you buy once and drop into the organization. AI systems require maintenance, and someone must be assigned to that caretaking.
But at least at the Department of Defense, Drake pointed out, all employees are not expected to become data scientists. We’re a knowledge organization, he said, but even if reskilling and retraining are offered, a federal workforce does not have to universally accept those opportunities. However, surveys across DoD have revealed an “appetite to learn and change”, Drake said. The Department is hoping to feed that curiosity with a three-tiered training program offering executive-level overviews, practitioner-level training on the tools currently in place, and formal data science training. He encouraged a similar structure to AI and data science training across other organizations.
Bad AI Actors
Gourley turned the conversation to bad actors. The very first telegraph message between Washington DC and Baltimore in 1844 was an historic achievement. The second and third messages—Gourley said—were spam and fraud. Cybercrime is not new and it is absolutely guaranteed in AI. What is the way forward, Gourley asked the panel.
“Our adversaries have been quite clear about their ambitions in this space,” Drake said. “The Chinese have published a national artificial intelligence strategy; the Russians have done the same thing. They are resourcing those plans and executing them.”
In response, Drake argued for the vital importance of ethics frameworks and for the United States to embrace and use these technologies in an “ethically up front and moral way.” He predicted a formal codification around AI ethics standards in the next couple of years similar to international nuclear weapons agreements now.
AI Projects Progressing Across Federal Government Agencies
By AI Trends Staff
Government agencies are gaining experience with AI on projects, with practitioners focusing on defining the project benefit and the data quality is good enough to ensure success. That was a takeaway from talks on the opening day of the Second Annual AI World Government conference and expo held virtually on October 28.
Wendy Martinez, PhD, director of the Mathematical Statistics Research Center, with the Office of Survey Methods Research in the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, described a project to use natural language understanding AI to parse text fields of databases, and automatically correlate them to job occupations in the federal system. One lesson learned was despite interest in sharing experience with other agencies, “You can’t build a model based on a certain dataset and use the model somewhere else,” she stated. Instead, each project needs its own source of data and model tuned to it.
Renata Miskell, Chief Data Officer in the Office of the Inspector General for the US Department of Health and Human Services, fights fraud and abuse for an agency that oversees over $1 trillion in annual spending, including on Medicare and Medicaid. She emphasized the importance of ensuring that data is not biased and that models generate ethical recommendations. For example, to track fraud in its grant programs awarding over $700 billion annually, “It’s important to understand the data source and context,” she stated. The unit studied five years of data from “single audits” of individual grant recipients, which included a lot of unstructured text data. The goal was to pass relevant info to the audit team. “It took a lot of training, she stated. “Initially we had many false positives.” The team tuned for data quality and ethical use, steering away from blind assumptions. “If we took for granted that the grant recipients were high risk, we would be unfairly targeting certain populations,” Miskell stated.
In the big picture, many government agencies are engaged in AI projects and a lot of collaboration is going on. Dave Cook is senior director of AI/ML Engineering Services for Figure Eight Federal, which works on AI projects for federal clients. He has years of experience working in private industry and government agencies, mostly now the Department of Defense and intelligence agencies. “In AI in the government right now, groups are talking to one another and trying to identify best practices around whether to pilot, prototype, or scale up,” he said. “The government has made some leaps over the past few years, and a lot of sorting out is still going on.”
Ritu Jyoti, Program VP, AI Research and Global AI Research lead for IDC consultants, program contributor to the event, has over 20 years of experience working with companies including EMC, IBM Global Services, and PwC Consulting. “AI has progressed rapidly,” she said. From a global survey IDC conducted in March, business drivers for AI adoption were found to be better customer experience, improved employee productivity, accelerated innovation and improved risk management. A fair number of AI projects failed. The main reasons were unrealistic expectations, the AI did not perform as expected, the project did not have access to the needed data, and the team lacked the necessary skills. “The results indicate a lack of strategy,” Joti stated.
David Bray, PhD, Inaugural Director of the nonprofit Atlantic Council GeoTech Center, and a contributor to the event program, posted questions on how data governance challenges the future of AI. He asked what questions practitioners and policymakers around AI should be asking, and how the public can participate more in deciding what can be done with data. “You choose not to be a data nerd at your own peril,” he said.
Anthony Scriffignano, PhD, senior VP & Chief Data Scientist with Dun & Bradstreet, said in the pandemic era with many segments of the economy shut down, companies are thinking through and practicing different ways of doing things. “We sit at the point of inflection. We have enough data and computer power to use the AI techniques invented generations ago in some cases,” he said. This opportunity poses challenges related to what to try and what not to try, and “sometimes our actions in one area cause a disruption in another area.”
AI World Government continues tomorrow and Friday.
(Ed. Note: Dr. Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google is now chair of the National Security Commission on AI, today was involved in a discussion, Transatlantic Cooperation Around the Future of AI, with Ambassador Mircea Geoana, Deputy Secretary General, North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and Secretary Robert O. Work, vice chair of the National Security Commission. Convened by the Atlantic Council, the event can be viewed here.)
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