Post authored by: Kevin Huang MD, Gravity4 Asia
Chatbots have risen in the communication ecosystem so that some say they’ll replace mobile apps and even sites. The history of chatbots starts with ELIZA, an application built at MIT in 1966, that could carry on a text conversation with human interlocutors.
Messaging apps and social media long ago replaced conventional phone calls to connect with people. As the dynamics of communication change, consumers are more apt to use a similar service for customer support issues. A chatbot, in these instances, helps bridge the communication gap between customer and the brand. These bots essentially provide instant feedback and answers to a consumer’s urgent questions. Imagine having a medical question at 3 a.m. and no medical person to call.
This is one area of many areas where chatbots come handy in critical moment to provide consumers with much-needed answers and relief. For commercial brands, these lightweight applications aim to provide value to consumers and assist them in retrieving information as well as get product recommendations and getting information to consumers in a speedy and accurate manner in a world where consumers increasingly demand answers right here right now at any time of the day. Furthermore, these bots serve as trusted and reliable employees, ensuring brand loyalty
Next Immediate Disruption
Chatbots have had a great impact on consumers, so that they experience digital ecommerce and other services in a completely new way through AI-driven conversations. It’s undeniable these bots are the newest trend among the messenger apps. However, these bots’ rise is a mere signal to a huge upcoming disruption in the marketplace.
It’s expected these bots could eventually replace a lot of “call centers” and even sales people within the foreseeable future. Furthermore, they may potentially replace low-level business functions the web or mobile apps currently handle.
Imagine bots powered with machine learning and can recognize speech and data, learn natural language patterns and interpret historical engagement based on previous interactions. Sounds a lot like super-intelligent artificial intelligence, doesn’t it?
As structured data is compiled and imported, these applications hold the capacity to understand the users’ specific needs and provide appropriate solutions without human customer service. The chatbots’ intelligence enables them to handle multiple conversations with ease.
Brands and businesses are racing to adopt (or build) a chatbot for two main reasons. One, the chatbots let businesses talk to individual consumers in real time and engage in automated two-way conversations at scale. The second is data. Yup, a life without Big Data won’t be much of a life on the digital landscape. Data allows businesses to keep a measurable KPI to enhance their customer experiences and optimize the engagement or sales with the hope of future sales.
Our development efforts on these bots with powerful machine learning methods and continuing to improve them to actually understand conversation using natural language processing. With the layered capability of AI-powered engine, we’re focused on enabling these bots to communicate using both text and voice and retrieval of recommendations through searching on the open web.
For companies doing online and even offline sales, we think of this as the next generation search engine that serves your every need knowing your historical purchase patterns, current needs and expectations. Imagine telling chatbot you need coffee and it delivers it to you within the next 30 mins to your doorstep with the exact amount of milk and sugar in it. That is very close to happening in many parts of the world and Asia in particular China is racing to develop AI driven technology and there’s no doubt that Chatbots and voice based applications will play an important role to brining this to the man on the streets and serving their daily needs, ones as simple as getting coffee.
By 2020, it is estimated by Garner that 85% of the consumers will their relationships with brands without ever interacting with a human; every aspect of the interaction – from start to finish – will be AI driven.
Surprisingly, many key regulatory and business decision makers have not considered the implications of transitioning to utility to AI, or even tested it through chatbots for their own businesses and industries. Furthermore, some regulatory bodies have not assessed the deep social implications on the wider marketplace and economy either. Virtual assistants (Siri/Google Assistant), customer service chatbots (Gravity4 Asia/Pixels’ Chatbot), conversational e-commerce assistants (Alexa), autonomous cars, and medical techs – the list of AI powered chatbots is endless.
Whether the brands want to acknowledge it or ignore it, chatbots will continue to revolutionize the way that brands provide service to their customers, increase customer service engagement, brand loyalty and ultimately profits.
At the current pace of the AI powered chatbots, we will continue to see the acceleration of the automation. Furthermore, I feel chatbots potentially be an evolutionary process to a stand-alone mobile app, since they can learn our habits, understands our tastes and preferences and adopt each time we interact with them.
As we continue to evolve AI incrementally, these intelligent bots are drastically minimizing the barrier in making machines intelligently learn from prior interactions and preferences. On this road to discovery we’re singularly intent on ensuring conversational software will enable humans to talk to machines naturally.
Brands and marketers need to sit up and take chatbots seriously. As chatbots become more powerful with AI and machine learning layered on top, they not only will be able to connect you closer to your customers but help transform your business. Stay tuned as AI-powered chatbots continue to become the fastest-growing software segment.
Hong Kong: Adapt or fall behind
Hong Kong, a city with 238% mobile penetration with now close to 90% smartphone penetration, a population that is addicted to their phones and a market where brands thrive on cutting edge technology, aim to stand out from the clutter and increasingly rising cost in doing business including talent cost, Hong Kong brands have to play a leading role in the development and deployment of chatbots to aide their businesses.
It is vital that automation and deployment of instant customer service take center stage in Hong Kong as its already discerning consumers become even more demanding and expectations increase with every new piece of technology made available.
Amidst a rapidly changing business environment, rapidly rising cost and consumer expectations, Hong Kong brands need to up their game and be there when consumers want them to be. Yes, they can hire more people to deal with mundane questions such as what time does your shop open or how do I fix the display on my television to work around the clock or they can adopt technologies such as chatbot to take care of this. From there on, chatbots with AI can also be your sales rep to up-sell your customer.
All in all, the whole point of creating chatbots is to build superb customer experiences. As they say, the customer is always right and we need to be there for them, always.
I am a Data Engineer and support the APAC region of Gravity4. I have Masters in Computer Science with focus on Data Analytics. I have been working on projects related to machine learning & deep learning.