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Would you know if you were chatting with a chatbot?

Posted by Julian DiMico on October 12, 2017

Artificial intelligence is improving ecommerce by leaps and bounds. The technology is improving customer service so rapidly that it can make you believe you are conversing with an actual human online. These tools respond to human requests in real time, in context and in natural language. So customers may not even know if they were chatting with a bot.

More than two thirds of shoppers have now interacted with a chatbot online or over text message.  Of those that remembered interacting, 65 percent enjoyed the experience.

chatbot-2.jpegCustomer interaction is never a one size fits all proposition. So it is very difficult to find a system that meets all of the expectations of of a true natural language interaction. Over an extended conversation, people are more likely to suspect that they are chatting with a bot. This may not be a negative as customers care more about their problems being solved than how that solution is delivered. 

The best bots have natural language processes. They are empathetic to the concerns of the client and are patient with responses. They provide thoughtful responses that do not come back immediately after a question. They provide helpful links with additional information to help clients make a purchasing decision. Additionally, these bots have a human avatar with a name and a picture.

Back Up With Human Interaction 

When it's obvious to a customer that they are engaged with a bot, it's often because it isn't going well. Often these signals are harmful to the customer experience and the result could be a lost sale. One indication is when the bot starts to offer links to landing pages, checkout pages or other FAQ sites. Chat bots should be supported with machine learning, improving the capability to respond to questions directly rather than redirect the consumer to another page online, effectively putting customers in an endless loop. At that point, it's far better to get a human involved.

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Growing Adoption

People are increasingly using messaging services to communicate with businesses and one another. Over 77% of American adults own a smart phone and the exchange 2 billion messages with one another over Facebook Messenger's 100,000 bots

People are getting more accustomed to interacting with retailers online through messaging rather than calling on the phone and talking with a human. In fact, 80% prefer to get their communication from retailers over email rather than a call, 79% have actually used chatbots or messaging to communicate with retailers. Additionally, 38% like to get information through multiple channels including a chatbot.

Still, email is the dominant way that people interact with companies. That is because it is a primary marketing tool for retailers reaching out to many people at one time. Additionally, people are comfortable with the asymmetric communication of email and believe they will get a real human response.

Overall, chatbots are becoming more and more sophisticated an it will soon become increasingly difficult to tell authentic humans from the machines. 

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Topics: Customer service, AI, chatbots

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