When a business moves its services online, it runs the risk of losing the close connection it had with customers. This affects customer loyalty and sometimes means lost revenue. Thanks to technology, some businesses have deployed artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots to keep customers engaged in a two-way conversation.
What is an AI Chatbot?
An AI chatbot is a piece of software powered by artificial intelligence that is placed on websites and other applications to interact with humans.
Chatbots are not a new technology, and it’s worth noting that there is a difference between AI chatbots and flow chatbots. Flow chatbots follow a pre-determined path defined by a developer; AI chatbots are self-trained, meaning they give feedback depending on the information supplied by the customer. They use natural language processing and machine learning technology to turn complex business interactions into simple conversations through text or voice.
This makes AI chatbots smarter because they learn over time.
According to a report by Markets and Markets, the conversational AI market is expected to grow from $4.8 billion in the year 2020 to $13.9 billion by 2025.
AI Chatbots in Business
AI is no longer reserved for large enterprises only. Small businesses can now leverage conversational chatbots on applications such as Facebook.
The demand for chatbots has been driven by customers who need round-the-clock assistance from businesses. In most cases, businesses are slow to adapt to new technologies – especially because of the related costs. But the many benefits of AI chatbots make it worth adopting. Below are some of the ways that AI chatbots are being used in businesses:
- Customer inquiries – The bots help reduce customer service workload and can serve customers outside typical working hours. This means there is no need to struggle to manually respond to inquiries as the AI chatbots can be used to automate customer feedback, including in emails. The customers also no longer have to wait a long time to connect with a customer care representative.
- Personalizing interactions – conversational AI helps personalize interactions relevant to each user. AI chatbots learn the behavior of a client to provide personalized conversations.
- Data analysis – Businesses have a greater understanding of their clientele once the conversational data is analyzed.
- Sales representatives – they offer product suggestions for customers who are not sure what they are looking for.
- Lead qualifying – instant feedback helps keep a prospect interested and eventually turn them into a paying customer.
- Candidate vetting – Interested applicants converse with the AI chatbot, which then helps to filter for new hires.
- Free HR staff time - for businesses that have many employees, the conversational chatbots help answer employee questions depending on their job function, geographical location and date. It’s also useful in reminding employees of tasks that need to be completed. This frees time for the HR staff to concentrate on other tasks that help improve job satisfaction and reduce staff turnover.
- Increased engagement – the ability to answer emails and queries instantly helps keep the customer engaged. This enhances a business brand differentiation.
- Fast information retrieval – a human can take a long time to retrieve information, especially for an e-commerce or real estate business. AI chatbots easily connect to the database and provide feedback in real-time as they serve as an internal knowledge base.
- Integration with other applications – AI chatbots are integrated with robotic process automation, enterprise resource planning or customer relationship management systems to carry out further tasks. Such tasks include booking appointments, filling out forms and making recommendations.
- Easy scalability – chatbots handle multiple conversations simultaneously. This means that even when a business grows, the bots still handle large volumes of chats without affecting business costs.
- In digital marketing – businesses are using AI chatbots to support the collection of customer data, new product launches, lead generation, and to increase brand loyalty.
AI technology is continuously progressing and no doubt chatbots will also keep changing.
As with every technology, there are some limitations, such as lack of emotional intelligence that affects the depth and scope of a conversation. This means that there are still complex communications that will require humans.
Nonetheless, having AI chatbots as an additional resource to run a business is a sure way to help boost revenue, improve customer experience, and provide a competitive advantage.
However, before jumping on the bandwagon, it is best to first identify areas in your business where you can deploy AI chatbots.