Virtual assistant and chatbots which began as a niche concept in technology have now become mainstream for every enterprise in India. According to cloud enterprise software company Ramco Systems, to date, chatbots have largely been limited to consumer applications. There are more than 50,000 known bots in the market—most of which are consumer centric—and a small number of these cater to enterprise needs. Looking at the trend, there are a number of factors about why chatbots and artificial intelligence-based virtual assistants are perceived as viable business tools which could enhance interactions at the enterprise level.
Why Were The Enterprises Hesitant Before?
However, there is a catch — AI assistants and chatbots are still not mature enough to handle complex requests and need human intervention. Even with the best speech processing, no chatbot has achieved 100 percent recognition. They can also fail due to common mistakes like if their purposes are not defined clearly, setting goals that are too ambitious for existing tech capabilities and launch them before they are ready. Let’s take a look at few disadvantages of chatbots:
Chatbots Are Hackable
Current chatbots are not entirely secure and can create an open passage for hackers to get an access to users data, organisation’s network, applications and databases through chatbot interface. “When running a chatbot, companies should consider how the information is stored, how long it’s stored for, how it’s used and who has access to it. This is especially important for banking and finance, that deals with sensitive customer information,” said Simon Bain.
Chatbots are faster than human customer agents but sometimes they can get confused by the customer’s request. Sometimes they lose track and can go off the topic completely. They do not understand sarcasm and can be easily bewildered. It also doesn’t cope up with a lot of queries, it fails to understand human and forget what they were told earlier.
Inability To Make Decisions
Chatbots are infamous for their inability to make decisions which can either land a company in trouble or hamper a brand. A similar situation has landed Microsoft in trouble when their AI chatbot Tay went on making racist, inflammatory and political statements an hour after its launch. Therefore, developers need to ensure proper programming of chatbot is done to prevent such incidents like Microsoft.
Though chatbots can save a lot of time and manpower by ensuring all-time availability and serving to several clients at once but unlike human customer agents, chatbots needs to be trained differently for different businesses which increases the installation cost.
Rise Of Chatbots And AI Assistants At Enterprise Level
Many big brands in banking, e-commerce, insurance and travel sectors have already deployed chatbots and AI assistants in core communicative functions. Enterprises such as HDFC Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank, YES Bank, Yatra.com, ICICI Bank, Meru Cab, Lenskart, State Bank of India, Oxigen Wallet, Bajaj Allianz and ICICI Lombard, among scores of others, are employing chatbots to communicate with their customers. Even government entity Indian Railways is reportedly considering the use of chatbots to answer queries of the passengers in a fast and efficient manner in order to enhance travellers’ experience.
In fact, according to a recent survey, 80 percent of businesses are predicted to be using chatbots by the year 2020.
A study by the Microsoft research team explored the idea of creating a chatbot that catered to the Indian youth. The team said that the chatbot was designed to be more of a “friend” rather than a typical machine interface. They also claimed that a smartphone and a messaging application was sufficient to interact with the chatbot.
“Most of the businesses today are making their services user-friendly for both Gen Y and Gen X customers. Thus, this is where a chatbot comes handy for all their communicational aids,” Ramesh SivaSubramanian, head of Innovation Lab at Ramco Systems told Analytics India Magazine.
But why are the enterprises are adopting chatbots and AI assistants into their domain? Let’s take a look at few of the advantages:
Data Analysis, Predictive Analytics For Creating Hyper Personalisation
With the help of data analysis, predictive analytics and pattern recognition, AI chatbots can create hyper-personalisation. Chatbots learn through experience, which means that continuous exposition enhances its capacity of processing data at a rapid pace. Chatbots generally use machine learning to gather conversational cadences. This enables the chatbot to mimic human conversation, and react to spoken or written prompts to deliver a service. Essentially, it serves as a user interface which reflects the ability to plug into several data sources through APIs. This enables a chatbot to deliver information or services on demand, for say weather forecasts or even breaking news. It also finds the data needed to solve a problem and answer a customer’s question from its data repositories. With the help of data, the chatbots can also identify what business intelligence tools are required to organise the data and produce perspective business insights. It converts every bit of information to an actionable insight that helps the organisation grow. It also develops a greater understanding of the communication pattern of a customer by analysing the queries, resulting in every response becoming more enriched than the latter.
Provides 24×7 Service
Chatbots can offer 24×7 customer support and can answer questions and offer insights and suggestion thereby lowering the costs and improving the customer experience. It eases the process of human interaction and query resolution.
Chatbots are designed to access big data which can support them answer customer’s queries. Due to smart algorithms and programming, they are able to process the data more accurately. One of the reasons why chatbots are utilised is because humans want to gain time and focus on other important things. Therefore, the companies outsource some of humans task to chatbots, which do not have the human-like tendency to forget. Hence the chances of error become zero.
A chatbot can be trained in a day or couple of hours compared to human service agents who require a week-long training and it can perform the task of several customer agents — hence enterprises get compelled to adopt AI. They are cost-effective customer service solution for any enterprise with a high or low budget. According to an IBM research, chatbots will save businesses over $8 billion per year by 2022.
“One of the biggest advantages of using chatbots is that they are a cheaper solution to customer service. They can serve and reach customers in a way that would otherwise require a tremendous amount of time and resources. This is an area where chatbots are gaining momentum,” Simon Bain, the cybersecurity expert and CEO of BOHH Labs said.
Helps In Recruitment Process
Smart and workflow save a lot of time for a company. Recruiting chatbots can perform a function like a resume parsing and asking relevant questions to narrow down the number of candidates for screening. According to a survey, more than 67 percent of candidates had a positive impression of companies that kept them updated through the application process.
When it comes to Employee Engagement, related pulse surveys could be floated via bots. For example, the Happiness Quotient can be tracked by triggering Mood sense through bots. In case of Talent Management, employees can check recommended training sessions with schedules. With respect to Performance Management Systems, day to day journal entries can be recorded via bot. Managers can check and compare appraisal info of the previous years.
To Sum Up
Despite the disadvantages, chatbots and AI assistant are a thing of future which is still at the nascent stage and yet to uncover its true potential, but with its popularity among businesses, it is are here to stay. Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence will help enhance the technology further in the coming years. This will also increase the usage by businesses to ensure they remain customer obsessed. As Gartner report suggests, by 2020, nearly 25 percent of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant or chatbots across engagement channels.
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I have over three-years of experience in editing, reporting. My career in journalism began with The Economic Times. When I am not busy, I read, I binge-watch web series.