Today’s consumers are used to the speed, convenience, and accessible 24-hour service they’ve come to expect from chatbots. Competitive enterprises have learned to take advantage of chatbots for the highly valuable user data that helps them understand their customers and scale their business. Chatbots are awake 365 days of the year and can speak in many different languages. But that’s not all they can do. Let’s take a look at why bots are here to stay and what the future of bots might bring.
Why bots are here to stay
Bots are here to stay because both consumers and enterprises have come to depend on them. Intelligent chatbots increase customer engagement. Increased customer engagement drives revenue.
Bots provide continuous customer engagement across multiple channels for consumers. Over 50% of consumers now expect a business to be open 24/7.
For enterprises, chatbot buyer intent technology enables a higher ROI and conversion rate — with increased internal efficiency. 56% of firms report that engagement through chatbots is ROI positive.
It’s highly unlikely that we humans will outgrow our appetite for accessible, personalized interactions that give us immediate access to products and services from any device we’re using.
And it’s equally unlikely that enterprises will abandon a technology that offers them rich user data, reveals consumer sentiment, and assists in product and service development.
As chatbot technology continues to advance and consumers’ expectations continue to rise, the chatbot market size is projected to grow from $2.6B in 2019 to $9.4B by 2024.
Continuous customer engagement
Chatbots create a more personalized service for customers, which makes them want to return. Increased user engagement gives the chatbot more opportunity to learn from actionable data and personalize service even further.
Chatbots learn new techniques and provide more accurate responses over time. Greater accuracy generates higher visitor engagement with contextually appropriate messaging that guides customers to the right solution in a proactive way.
The ultimate future goal of chatbots and conversational AI is to be perceived as human by the user. Future bots will inevitably appear even more natural as developers try to simplify the integration of human and machine.
As bots evolve, their ability to execute task automation on intent recognition will increase — moving closer to a human communication style for a more natural experience. Bots that can offer a more human-like service will be able to provide an even more engaging experience for consumers.
“Moving into the future, chatbots will become increasingly witty and will be used in various fields.” Alex Muchiri, Founder of Itesyl Technologies
Accessibility across channels
In the past, consumer accessibility across multiple channels was a nice-to-have. Today, omnichannel integration is a must-have for businesses to survive the increased complexity of the digital age.
An omnichannel experience allows customers to interact with bots or agents from a variety of platforms. Digitally savvy consumers expect to reach a business through a chat on a firm’s website or social channel — and have the same streamlined experience.
Conversational AI across channels also means that a user can start a conversation on one channel and complete it on another without losing context or continuity.
Omnichannel accessibility is becoming the norm — customers want to be able to reach a business from whatever device they use every day and receive a response. 80% of consumers feel that receiving an immediate response from a business increases their loyalty.
Buyer intent technology
Intent technology is a critical asset for customer acquisition, retention, and growth. Intent data is like a record of a user’s behavior — a digital footprint of activity and clicks.
Intent data on a firm’s website guide bot decision triggers and offers insights into customer needs. User intent data allows businesses to both deliver hyper-personalized messaging and identify high-value leads.
How does a business decide which leads to pursue? If a firm has access to intent data, it understands the pain points of the user by their behavior based online activity.
Intent data empowers sales and marketing teams to prioritize leads based on behaviors that indicate a likelihood to engage and convert to a sale — improving ROI and boosting conversion rates.
Buyer intent data can also inform whether a client has researched alternative solutions from competitors or third party sites. In these situations, bot triggers can be set to request client feedback for future improvements.
The ability to monitor consumer sentiment, especially during times of economic volatility, gives enterprises the insight to switch up marketing tactics, or even identify trends for future product development. This insight is an edge all enterprises will need in the future to compete.
“Chatbots are fast becoming a business imperative for businesses that want to engage with their customers.”
Eileen Brown, ZDNet
Greater internal efficiency
For conversational tools to increase efficiency and reduce response time, their interfaces need to have access to a broad array of backend services. In short, a firm’s chatbot needs to be able to integrate with its other systems.
With the increased interplay between dissimilar systems within a tech ecosystem, integrations between chatbots and CRMs, ERPs, and other databases drive communication efficiency and customer satisfaction while reducing service time.
Integrations with a CRM assists hyper-personalization. Bots can read, change, and write information to databases. Bots can retrieve data from backend systems. And bots can alert humans if necessary — all the while keeping the user engaged.
The future of bots
Chatbots have come a long way from simple front-end solutions for answering standard questions. And they will continue to mature.
The AI in chatbots is generally two technologies, Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML), that work collaboratively to automate tasks previously done by humans.
The hybrid marriage of these two technologies has allowed bots to continually evolve from a text and menu-based approach to a more human-like conversational and user intent approach.
The future of bots will likely provide an even more organic experience for users with increased cross-channel flexibility. The development of strategies integrating text, interactive voice chatbots, and other conversational platforms is evolving at a rapid pace.
Future advances in language technologies will improve complex linguistic decision making — beyond linear scripts and menus. So, bots will get fancier.
“The chatbots of the future don’t just respond to questions. They talk. They think. They draw insights from knowledge graphs. They forge emotional relationships with customers.”
Christie Olsen, Head of Evangelism for Bing at Microsoft
NLP has advanced in areas like sentiment analysis which focuses on identifying user emotions — bots that can learn to identify an angry customer can route them to the right customer service agent immediately.
Firms can expect even greater efficiency with bots learning to field a broader array of customer queries — freeing up human resources for more comprehensive tasks.
Perhaps future chatbots will take on personalities based on the style, preferences, and intent of the users communicating with them. In the future, enterprises may be able to design different bot personalities based upon the user data collected from disparate market segments.
No matter what form future bots evolve into, they will undoubtedly continue to provide even more innovative solutions that are taken seriously by competitive enterprises across all industries — and appreciated by consumers of all demographics.