Chatbots can be great, if we learn from the early failures

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As you’re browsing the web you might happen across a pop-up imploring you to chat to a “representative” about the company or product you’re viewing.

While you might be chatting to a warm-blooded human, there’s a good chance that you are actually chatting with a chatbot.

In 2019 the chatbot market value was worth $2.6 billion and this is expected to grow to $9.4 billion by 2024 considering an compound annual growth rate of 29.7 percent.

This is not taking into account the savings a business can enjoy by freeing up call centre agents who deal with basic queries for most of their day.

But before you rush off to implement a chatbot in your business, there are some considerations to be made. The most important of which is that customers, are sceptical of chatbots.

This scepticism was brought on by poorly implemented solutions that added friction to customer service rather than helping things move smoothly.

“Organisations that got it wrong in the early days would suffer communication breakdowns as they prematurely launched solutions that had not been coded with the required understanding of customer intent or deployed them across channels that were unsuitable for their purpose,” enterprise presales engineer at Infobip, Josiah Njuku explains to Hypertext.

“As a result, not only did customers’ trust in the business suffer but so did the reputation of chatbot technology. Essentially, a chatbot is a trust-based platform, and at any time when a customer feels that they might be getting inaccurate, or irrelevant responses from the bot – even to something as simple as an FAQ – they are likely to migrate to another brand,” adds Njuku.

We’ve come a long way since those early days of chatbots especially as regards understanding. Natural language processing (NLP) helps to make things smoother as a bot can learn from a vast array of language sources, making conversations flow a bit more smoothly.

But even with NLP and clever coding, sometimes a bot isn’t the best tool for the job. And even if a chatbot is the right tool, selecting the right platform is even more important.

“For example, it would be catastrophic for a bank to think that Facebook Messenger is the right tool on which to deploy a banking bot. Aside from constant reports of Facebook accounts being hacked, Facebook Messenger also does not offer the amount of customisation that a bank would need to successfully reach its customers,” Njuku explains.

This goes a step further when a human should be brought into the conversation rather than a bot. While you might be able to solve most queries with a chatbot there should absolutely be support staff on hand to take over when necessary.

Chatbots are here to stay and with careful planning and implementation, your business can enjoy the benefits of the technology with a few simple measures.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.