Chatbots and the future of customer-centric communication

“…this won’t be quick or easy. Implementing () requires the right technology, the right data, the right use case, the right design, and the right cultural mindset.”

It could have been written 6 years ago, back when we were all wondering what to do about the brave new world of (b2b) social, but it’s actually from the recent report about chatbots from Altimeter Group.*

It’s a different technology, but in some ways, the same game: organizational culture, mindset, and strategy will continue to be vital in implementing new technology, because at the end of the day, it’s always more about people than technology.

chatbots_chriskja_customercentriccommunication

Are chatbots the future of customer-centric communication?

Plenty of smart people have covered Chatbots and customer experience. One of those smart people is Susan Etlinger at Altimeter, author of “The Conversational Business: How chatbots will reshape digital experiences.”

The report covers different applications and future business cases for the use of chatbots, as well as some general characteristics of chatbots. While Etlinger sees potential for chatbots in virtually every industry sector, let’s turn our focus toward some of the characteristics held by chatbots that may be the answer to many communication challenges.

Chatbots are generally:

  • about building Relationships
  • Instantaneous: independent of time and space
  • Conversational by nature

However, for a chatbot to lift the customer experience, it has to either solve a problem faster, better or more efficiently. I like to call this the lmgtfy – factor (I don’t know if thats a real term). If it’s faster to just Google it, the chatbot is virtually useless.

Alternatively, the chatbot has to solve or answer a problem the customer didnt even have prior to the existence of the chatbot.

The hard part will be finding the right balance of personal dynamics and artificial intelligence and fitting it into the individual organization’s needs.

I hope and believe that chatbots will never replace social contact and the dynamics found on social media.

I do have utopian hope that perhaps chatbots will pave the way for more streamlined and smooth customer experiences.

Imagine a world where bots can take care of routine questions and problems. Tech outsourcing, if you will. Leaving more resources for hands-on dialogue and personalized experiences, because employees are no longer tied up answering the same routine questions. I also see huge potential for dissemination of knowledge and news.

This is where I shamelessly plug the example of the feminist Bot: Femibot (sorry, in danish only). This chatbot was created specifically for the purpose of educating a younger audience on feminism, based on the idea of “reach them where they are”

 anthromorphism chriskja chatbots october 2017

Is the technology ready?

Smarter people than myself know much more about this than me, but from what I’ve gathered, the feedback is that for the most part, the technology is ready to go.

But one thing is the technology, which is still young, and another thing is people. Bots intended to replace human interaction in situations such as customer service or sales rely on massive amounts of machine learning, data, interconnected technology and not least: cultural mindset and transformation not just in the organization, but also with (some groups of) consumers.

Ideally speaking though, chatbots could hold the answer to many a prayer: It can reduce operational costs (bots are cheaper and more efficient, by the hour, than people). It is not limited to business hours, meaning that generation x, millenials and future generations can get what they want, when they want it, just as they have become accustomed.

And so far, we’ve mainly  discussed chatbots in the realm of customer service. Think of the possibilities for NGO’s, activism, media outlets, finance, healthcare, government, productivity, retail, personal assistants.

The possibilities are endless.

 

Resources:

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