Chatbots — programs designed to simulate a conversation — are now rapidly developing and improving, becoming more human-like due to artificial intelligence. They are being applied by more and more companies working in different spheres. We have mentioned chatbots as eCommerce trend for 2017. What we can see in 2018, a year later, is that chatbots are still gaining popularity and it’s easy to forecast that they will continue as a trend in upcoming years, and in the future may even completely replace humans in customer service.
As chatbots are an issue of current concern, we decided to devote a separate article to them and show you the drawbacks and benefits of using chatbots for business. So let’s be unbiased and fair in considering both why chatbots are good and why chatbots are bad.
There are 2 main types of chatbots:
- Chatbots with a fixed information database, programmed for a limited range of behavior scenarios.
- AI chatbots, which work based on artificial intelligence and have more abilities, including self-learning and self-updating.
The advantages of chatbots
Using chatbots is more cost-effective for companies than hiring human resources. Like humans, different chatbots can execute a wide range of tasks from simple consulting to accomplishing purchases and bookings for customers.
In doing all this, chatbots never get tired or ill. They don’t ask for paid vacations or extra money for working night shifts, unlike employees.
Immediate response, no queues
Chatbots deliver fast and direct replies. They need less than a second to match requested information with a knowledge database and produce an output. They don’t spend time on guessing, searching, and opening lots of browser tabs like humans do.
Plus, they can multitask and can run many conversations at the same time so that customers don’t need to wait in a line, which they hate. Prompt responses provide a great UX and customer satisfaction.
Chatbots allow companies to constantly remain in touch with their users and not lose the chance to convert them into loyal clients. There are no lunch breaks and non-working hours for chatbots. Users are also glad when they can get help from customer service at any time of the day, week and year — exactly when they need it.
The disadvantages of chatbots
The lack of sarcasm understanding
Chatbots are designed to interact with humans, who, in contrast to bots, tend to put some implicit meaning in their words. So while dealing perfectly well with common, straightforward questions by generating rapid and precise answers, even AI chatbots find it challenging to recognise sarcasm, irony and humor. They treat all words as genuine and can’t read between the lines.
Scientists are working on improving artificial intelligence, trying to humanise computer programs, however for now AI chatbots’ capabilities aspect leave much to be desired in this area.
Bad at improvisation
Chatbots perform well as long as the conversation flows within the pre-programmed algorithm. However, it’s totally impossible for developers to forecast all the possible situations. So when a chatbot face an unpredictable behavior scenario, it get confused.
Trying to cope with this and figure out what a person means, a program generates leading questions. If customer’s answers keep on confusing the program, the program keeps on repeating the same clarifying questions. As a result, irritated and annoyed customer leaves a website or app without getting the needed information.
Not for every kind of business
Chatbot is not one-size-fits-all solution and not all kinds of businesses can benefit from it using. Chatbots are an apt implementation for companies providing such services as taxi, food delivery, hotel rooms booking, tickets selling, retail trade, and others where requests from customers are mainly very predictable and templated.
However, many B2B and other companies need to provide profound consultations with an individual approach and react properly to situations on the ground in order to keep customers satisfied and gain their trust. Unfortunately, chatbots can’t ensure a qualitative customer support for this kind of businesses, and can’t be a full-fledged substitute for a human-to-human interaction in this case.
Generally speaking, chatbots are a useful and desirable technology, aimed at easing customer’s journeys. For now they have many imperfections, but as a promising industry, they will be upgraded and perform much better, having their capabilities expanded.
Scientists will for sure continue working on their improvements, especially on AI chatbots. Artificial intelligence is getting a lot of attention nowadays and is rapidly developing, showing considerable progress, and chatbots are one of the top spheres of applying AI. More AI chatbots are expected to successfully pass Turing test in the future, so that customers can’t distinguish whether they are communicating with a bot or with a human assistant.
For now, evaluate all the advantages and disadvantages of using chatbots to decide whether it’s a right fit for your kind of business. If you don’t need a sophisticated performance, chatbots can be a lucrative solution for solving rudimentary tasks at any time of the day with lightning speed to help you run your business.
If you need a professional help with a chatbot on your website or app, contact out IT specialists.