Live chats are slowly replacing phone lines for customer support or customer service —we will use CS in short for the rest of this article because chatbots serve as both. Almost half of the customers who visit mobile websites for services and products they buy expect live chat on websites according to a research. Employing people for live chat CS might be effective, but it’s costly. Also, sometimes it’s harder to provide 24/7 support if you employ someone, and it can be inhumane in some cases.
People expect to get in touch with you for support and connect as fast as possible because dialogues are fundamental for communication and problem-solving. If you want to communicate with your customers more economically and create dialogue, there’s a solution: chatbots!
What Is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a software that makes people’s work easier by understanding the inputs of a human at one end and responds accordingly. If you’ve entered a website and encountered an automatic message from a dialogue box like “hello, how can I help you?” it means that you have met a chatbot.
The sentences chatbots use may differ from each other, but they generally aim for the same purpose: to help the user. So how do they do this?
Chatbots help both customers and service/product providers by assisting with services, offering suggestions to customers for product sales, and even compensating for the complexity of the website interface. While providing this service, they can use text or voice response methods. Different chatbot features stand out for each method and service.
There is no consensus on the number of chatbot types, but we can roughly say that they work simply in two different principles. Some chatbots are rule-based and some use more complex algorithms. The latter is also known as AI chatbots.
These chatbots use keywords in messages to provide services to the user. While using keywords is quite common, this type of chatbot can run into some problems as they don’t quite know the way we talk every day. For example, the users may unconventionally express themselves, they can make too much noise, or they may not have an appropriate command for the service that they want.
Quick Reply Chatbots
This type of chatbot is very efficient for specific uses, but they have limited abilities. These chatbots are generally preferred when it comes to choosing an operation from a menu or following a decision tree. It asks the user appropriate questions and proceeds to the next stage according to the user’s choice. Among the examples we will mention below, WhatsApp compatible chatbot developed by WHO to inform the public about the pandemic fits in this type the most.
It is a chatbot type that combines the two above-mentioned types. While the users can use the keyword-focused chatbot, they can switch to the menu-based chatbot when they cannot get efficiency from the keyword-focused method. In other words, while taking advantage of the conversational appeal of the keyword-oriented chatbot, it compensates for the shortcomings of this method by offering menu-based options. In this way, it allows benefiting from the advantages of both types.
This type of chatbot develops a context by monitoring user experiences. With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, it recognizes the user intent and tries to predict their needs and questions. It constantly improves itself. So it is pretty complex.
This chatbot type can be developed by using text-to-speech or voice recognition application program interfaces. It works by communicating directly with the user by voice. It is a more preferred type because it is easier for people to talk than to write. Therefore, it is expected to be the dominant chatbot type in the future. Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri are examples of this type of chatbot.
What Chatbots Add to Our Lives
Chatbots brought our daily communication habits to digital contexts and offered inexpensive and effective solutions to common problems we usually experience in CS.
Advantages of Using Chatbots for Customer Service and Customer Support
Considering our current lifestyle and working styles, we can have problems with products and services anytime, anywhere. Beyond that, we may need a new product or service. Chatbots, compared to traditional customer service techniques, provide us following advantages.
- They decrease the time customers have to wait to access CS.
- They are online 24/7.
- They allow customers who find getting help repulsive to interact directly with the brand. In this way, they support brand loyalty.
- They give personality to the brand.
- They create personalized experiences for customers using artificial intelligence and machine learning.
- They decrease employment costs.
Affordable and Always Ready to Go
Brands have to spend a lot of money when they use manpower to provide quality service or support to their customers. In return, the benefit is very small because it is unclear how often CS workers will be needed. Besides that, employees are often reluctant to perform assistance services that involve simple sequential operations. With chatbots, brands can create a low-cost, highly efficient customer experience.
Providing Feedback from Users
By analyzing data provided by customers, chatbots could help brands with
- the aspects of the brand that need to be developed,
- additional services that can be provided,
- and providing general characteristics of the customer base.
Possible Problems of Using Chatbots
Although chatbots are very useful for the reasons we mentioned above, unfortunately, the technology is only a few years old. So they can create a wide variety of problems that brands don’t know how to solve. Chatbots develop themselves with artificial-intelligence-enabled techniques to deal with these problems. However, these problems can result in losing money or customers. Therefore, when using chatbots, you should pay attention to your purposes and should be careful to pick the chatbot software you will use. You should be careful about the following issues.
Security Flaws and Data Security
The chatbot should be resistant to situations such as hacker attacks, as well as convince customers about data security. Customers want to trust that their data will not be shared with third parties, and also only their necessary information is requested.
Understanding Customers’ Expressions
Chatbots —especially keyword-focused chatbots— may have trouble processing differences in customers’ expressions. The abbreviations used in the messaging method or the accent differences during the voice conversation can cause chatbots to underperform. In addition, using a chatbot that is sensitive to each of the differences such as the words used, too long or too short sentences, canonical/transpose sentences, both during conversation and in the messaging method, to be able to interact with customers is critical.
Customers may suddenly change their minds or want to deal with another issue during chatbot interaction. Chatbots sometimes have a hard time keeping up with this spontaneity. It’s good to use chatbots that can adapt to people’s spontaneity.
Ensuring Customer Satisfaction
Customers always expect more than what is offered and are hardly satisfied. Using chatbots that cannot improve themselves and that remain stable can disappoint customers.
Eight Different Chatbot Examples
We mentioned Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, and Apple’s Siri earlier. These chatbot examples are quite successful. But, our current topic is chatbots which include not only success but also creativity.
Have you heard of Her, the movie? Starring Joaquin Phoenix and the voice of Scarlett Johansson, it’s a movie about a man falling in love with his computer’s artificial intelligence. Inspired by this movie, one of Mitsuki’s co-founders developed a chatbot called Kuki. It interacts with users by reacting like a human to everyday topics. It uses specially designed images and gifs to make this relationship more realistic. Although it is not a complete solution to the growing loneliness problem in the world, it would not be wrong to say that it pioneered certain developments.
Lark is a healthcare assistant. It maintains real-time dialogues with its users. During the dialogues, it collects detailed information about the health status of the users. Lark, which provides its users with organized information about their health status, also offers health advice to its users.
Manychat works with Facebook Messenger. It helps business pages welcome their customers and keeps their attention.
4. KLM’s BlueBot
KLM is an airline company in The Netherlands. The airline has been improving the experience of its users for some time by using a chatbot called BlueBot. BlueBot arranges users’ flight appointments, prepares new travel routes, and even helps with packing their luggage. It increases its efficiency by working with Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant.
5. Ask Benji
Ask Benji was developed for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The purpose of development is to assist Arizona State University students with their education-related issues. Benji is currently online at 602-786-8171 to provide service via SMS.
6. WHO’s WhatsApp Chatbot
The World Health Organization has launched a WhatsApp-supported chatbot to prevent spreading misinformation about the Coronavirus pandemic. Working with commands selected from the list, the chatbot offers its users the most up-to-date and reliable information in their language.
Amy is a meeting organizer developed by X.AI. Amy, which is compatible with the calendars of the meeting participants and pleases everyone, is also appreciated with her personality.
Swelly is an app that started its journey as a solo survey program. Swelly, which collects information by providing surveys to its users, has evolved into a chatbot over time. Also called Instagram for opinions, Swelly is a practical chatbot for collecting useful information on various topics.