Monday, Apr 17 2017

The Future of Chatbots

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Chat Bots


Chatbots charged into the spotlight on the heels of artificial intelligence. They stood as an innovation within the customer service sector, providing simple interfaces for users to get the information they need without having to interact with a person. While the use of similar systems had been in place for some time, operating based on the abilities of language processing engines, chatbots took it a step further by allowing for additional depth within the conversation.


But the complexity of setting up these systems left many programs feeling clunky, and some were even considered practically useless. Additionally, chatbots could be taxing on a user’s system and provided little value when answering questions that could just as easily be looked up through a search engine or asked via an app.


News about chatbots has slowed since the later part of 2016, leaving many to wonder whether they would still play a role in today’s ever-evolving tech landscape. With that in mind, here are some challenges chatbots need to overcome to be considered valuable to users both today and tomorrow.


From a user perspective, interacting with a chatbot often adds a layer of complexity when seeking answers to questions instead of lowering them. For example, if a user wants to get information about the weather, it is much easier to open a weather app than use a bot, especially when you factor in the learning curve associated with interacting with a chatbot. Even if a user has a more complex question in mind, it is still simpler to input a question into a search engine that use a bot to dig for the information.


Accessing specific apps to get to certain information has become the societal norm. And, unless the chatbot has something more to offer, it isn’t a habit that will be easily broken. For example, systems like Amazon’s Echo allow users to interact quickly with simple questions and commands. The interface makes what was once a multistep process a single voice command. Instead of having to open a music app, search for a channel, and select it, you simply tell the system to play your chosen station. If a chatbot can’t eliminate steps between the user and their goals, then the old process will reign.


Further, the amount of effort required on the developer side is daunting. Many bot frameworks leave a lot of the design in the hands of various tech specialists. It relies highly on a company’s ability to predict how a user will interact with the service, leaving a significant amount of space for errors through incidental omission.


Much of the appeal of chatbots is from a business perspective. Being able to automate basic customer interactions for common issues would be a high-value development. However, many bots lack the necessary accuracy to ensure these interactions run smoothly, risking customer satisfaction in the process and potentially causing a loss of a customer along the way.


When examined for business communications, an issue with accuracy makes the solutions a non-start. While losing a customer on the B2C side is frustrating, losing one during a B2B interaction can be catastrophic. Errors related to bots are simply intolerable at this level, preventing most companies from even considering them as a solution.


While chatbots lack a certain level of sophistication, the potential for growth is there. Much of what will make them a success is finding the right problem for which they can be an ideal solution. Over time, as accuracy improves, their use in business may outweigh their potential for customers, especially when customers prioritize speed when asking simple questions.


Will 2017 be a big year for bots? Not likely. But the potential is there for those who truly want to solve the issues mentioned above for great developments in the future.


If you are interested in learning more about how tech will change in 2017 and what employees should be a priority, The Armada Group has the industry expertise you need to get ahead. Contact us today and see how you can better position your business to excel this year and beyond.