Chatbots are now being taken seriously because they support your agents, take secure payments and reduce queues.
Compared to other innovations, Chatbots have been a slow burner. As far back in 1966, MIT professor Joseph Weizenbaum's program ELIZA, fooled people into believing they were conversing with a real human. Some users even became emotionally attached, so the story goes.
Since then, businesses have tried to take advantage of Chatbots as a way of providing base-level customer service but with patchy success.
Most of us have encountered a grinning website avatar who infuriatingly answered our questions with cut-and-paste snippets from the same web page we'd just visited. For years, the bad Chatbots have been ruining it for the better ones.
But Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa have changed people's perceptions, opening up the way for other Chatbots to have their say.
Chatbots vs Spouses
When Gartner predicted in 2016 that the average person will have more conversations with bots than with their spouse by 2020 , it seemed a bit laughable.But now the forecast seems entirely credible. Gartner also predicts that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be a mainsteam customer experience investment in the next couple of years and that 47% of organisations will use chatbots for customer care and 40% will deploy virtual assistants..
Within a short spell, virtual assistants have become mainstream and are now used by 42% of consumers, 72% of business execs and 53% of millennials, according to PwC.
Chatbot need to be taken seriously
More enterprises are starting to take Chatbots seriously. Credence Research estimated that the global Chatbots market will experience 'exponential growth' in the years up to 2023 .
Contact centres could learn a lot from Siri and Alexa: They get the basics right, offering speed, clarity and convenience. When this happens, people will use a Chatbot instinctively - even to pay for goods and services.
To get the most from Chatbots, you need to play to their key strengths:
Speed: According to research from Eckoh, 66% of Chatbot sessions take no more than one minute to complete, which is perfect for today's time-sensitive customers. In fact, the average Chatbot conversation takes only five 'turns'. People love the immediacy of Chatbots. There's no queuing because 'all our Chatbots are busy' or long pauses while an agent looks up the answer.
Clarity: The best Chatbots give the right answers consistently. Advanced artificial intelligence, knowledge bases and integration with back office systems can be used to create highly intelligent Chatbots today. That said, Chatbots are best at handling the mundane, repetitive tasks quickly while human agents take care of complex interactions. It's important to understand how the two should work together.
Convenience: The availability of Chatbots 24/7, 365 days a year is great news for consumers. And as Chatbot technology advances rapidly, there's more and more they can provide, outside normal office hours. Consumers are hungry for more self-service and Chatbots help to satisfy this demand.
What makes a Chatbot special?
The answer? Being able to take a secure, PCI compliant payment within a Chatbot. There aren't many that can do that. Combining Eckoh's leading expertise in secure payment with its Chatbot solution means that you no llonger have to ask your customer to go elsewhere to pay. If they've made an enquiry via Chatbot, they can complete the transaction there and then. That's a special Chatbot.
Just imagine the other ways a Chatbot could contribut to your customer service team - handling routine, mundane enquiries, giving out updated and delivery tracking information just for starters. You save the cost and time of live agents who are free to handle more valuable or personal customer engagements.
It's no wonder that Gartner estimates that 25% of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant or Chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020 . Perhaps the most startling fact is that 75% of organisations haven't spotted the potential.
Start the conversation
It's taken a while to get here ... but Chatbots have finally come of age.
The statistics are all pointing one way: Chatbots are fast becoming an integral part of customer engagement. They can't do everything but they can fulfil many important roles in a unique way that customers value. Chatbots can also help direct people to serve themselves, eliminating repetitive enquiries traditionally handled by overworked contact centre agents.
To find out how to use Chatbots successfully with your customers, download your free copy of the . With Chatbots and other smart engagement tools, it's possible to improve overall customer engagement dramatically and get a speedy return on investment without vast capital investment.
To find out more about Eckoh Chatbots and other tools available via the Eckoh Experience Portal that can enhance your contact centre why not get in touch.
 'Chatbots Market By Type - 2015 - 2022' (Credence Research - June 2016)
 'Chatbots to make up a quarter of customer service operations by 2020' (Computing - Feb 20 2018)
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