Chatbots: The New Era of Customer Service

There was a poster that used to be present in most IT departments back in the 1980s that read ‘To err is human, to really foul things up requires a computer.’ It seems the computers have turned the tables on us, and they’re having the last laugh. So much so in fact, that it seems humans can’t be trusted to even interact properly with each other anymore, at least when it comes to customer service.

In today’s world where immediate access and multiple options have become the norm for consumers, companies are under constant pressure to deliver fast, reliable service across a variety of channels. But with long wait times, unsatisfactory resolutions and high costs that have come to be associated with using human client service representatives, more and more companies are turning to Chatbots.

Chatbots can best be described as automated customer service agents. Although initially used to solve simple, easy-to-resolve problems, chat bots are becoming more sophisticated, powered as they are by more advanced Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms that go beyond simply asking questions and giving you a series of options in response. Advances in intelligent technology has enabled programmers to create Chatbots that are more capable of understanding the intent behind customers’ queries and provide more ‘personalized’ responses.

Through a combination of advancements in AI, natural language processing and the use of deep learning which analyzes public customer information, chatbots are beginning to be able to “think.” They can process customer queries using extensive data available to them, and then come up with solutions that are more relevant to the customer, rather than simply spewing out pre-assigned answers.

You’ve probably noticed this difference yourself, if you’ve called your service provider – bank, cell-phone provider, cable etc. – in recent times. Compared to what obtained, say in the early 2000s, the chatbots sound less robotic, are easier to interact with and probably even have a human name.

The next evolution in chatbot technology, according to industry watchers is machine learning – ie advanced AI that allows chatbots to learn, instead of relying on existing code to function. This means they’ll be even more capable of adapting based on the tone and phrasing in a person’s voice or text submissions.

You need ask about the Nigeria’s Lara.ng, an AI for public transportation directions and fare quotes. Truly, we can make a lot happen with AI!