As a startup, our dream has always been to be able to change the world and make it a better place. As cliché as it sounds, that is really what drives most startups to dredge on, even when the going gets tough, like really tough! And whilst many of us will not make it to the news, small steps do add up.
So, can chatbots change the world? And if so, how?
“Technology is most powerful when it empowers everyone.” – Apple.com
Chatbots can be designed to be accessible so as to be able to reach all audiences. Many chatbots today are programmed to speak and display text messages, and also accept both voice and type-written responses and queries.
Apart from being accessible to people with different physical abilities, chatbots are also easily accessible to people with different technical abilities.
Chatbots are intuitive because they use a natural way of engagement we are used to … conversation. Imagine trying to explain to your grandmother how to navigate through a website, versus just telling grandma to simply start chatting and asking questions.
Whilst it may be argued that there are many bad chatbots out there that have simply frustrated users, we remain optimistic that chatbots are getting better each day, natural language processing (NLP) algorithms are improving, and there are times we get into a chat, and are not entirely sure if we are speaking with a human or bot (a good sign!).
Chatbots can benefit both the end-users and the organisations or individuals who deploy the chatbot, in that it helps both parties save time. I used to dread calling up the bank or airline hotlines, as I would be put on hold for a very long time. This is now rarely the case as a lot more organisations are deploying chatbots for first level customer support. In fact, it has become second nature for me to first look for a chat icon on the website, rather than the hotline number. I can do it discretely during meetings (shh, don’t tell anyone!), and I know I can generally get my question resolved in a few minutes.
For the organisation, their employees can be freed up from mundane and time-consuming tasks, such as answering the same questions over and over again.
Individuals, such as teachers, can deploy chatbots to provide students with round-the-clock assistance on frequently asked questions or administrative matters, leaving teachers with more time for personalised tutoring, or simply more time for themselves.
It cannot be denied that this is a recent shift in the world – the need for physical distancing, in order to control the current pandemic situation. Chatbots can certainly help to cover the roles of front desk receptionists and allow for more remote interactions. Beyond just greeting the customers or answering questions, there are many workflow automation and integration possibilities with AI-powered chat platforms these days. Customer information and queries can be automatically logged into customer relationship management (CRM) systems, help desk requests can be performed automatically, workflow logic can even be incorporated to provide personalised concierge services.
Perhaps a less obvious benefit is the analytics that chatbots can provide. There is no need to try to connect what a user does on a screen with how he feels or what is going on. Chatbot interactions are very direct and easy to analyse. You can directly ask a customer – “Are you happy or sad? Do you like this? What is going on?” And because we are capturing each and every conversation, chat platforms also function as automatic note takers. You can easily analyse top questions asked, where conversations normally drop off, and how customers react to different comments. Your chat platform dashboard will not forget parts of the conversation history or leave out important details (unless there is a system fault!).
Let’s face it - we all like to be entertained. There are chatbots today that can tell you jokes to make you laugh, play games with you, serve up videos, and some are just good to have a chat with. Whilst I would not recommend any sort of a relationship with a chatbot, such casual, fun interactions can help to clear your mind and who knows, maybe spark some creativity or ideas in something you were working on.
While most chatbots today may not be making any big impact in the world, there are many small steps forward that are being taken. And sometimes, that is all that is needed, to be able to change the world one conversation at a time.
Dog crazy, martial arts enthusiast, dreamer and lifelong learner.