Chatbots – those little conversation boxes on websites that offer human-like help – are not on the path to world domination, despite some entertaining anecdotes. They include rogue chatbots in China reportedly being shut down this week after questioning the country’s regime (they just needed more rules). And the horror stories around Facebook’s chatbots making up their own language are just that – horror stories. A Terminator-esque Skynet was not discovered and destroyed, but rather two the bots were found not to speak coherently and were reprogrammed to do so.
In fact, although still an immature technology, according to Juniper Research chatbots are forecast to deliver $8 billion in cost savings by 2022 and as far back as 2011, Gartner predicted that people would manage more than 85 percent of their relationships with enterprises without human involvement by 2020.
I’d say this is good news for many industries that are using – or trying out – chatbots to improve customer experiences and business processes, from simple banking transactions to healthcare enquiries. The $8 billion in predicted savings is a substantial increase from the $20 million made so far this year. What’s more, while Juniper reports 20 percent success with banking chatbot interactions so far in 2017, this could grow to 93 percent by 2022. Healthcare meanwhile, will see bots “able to aid in more sophisticated healthcare diagnostics, such as monitoring and analysis of mental health.” All signs of how fast this technology is advancing, and of how sticky it is becoming.
Lauren Foye, Senior Analyst, Juniper Research stated, “We believe that healthcare and banking providers using bots can expect average time savings of just over four minutes per inquiry, equating to average cost savings in the range of $0.50 to $0.70 per interaction.”
Juniper notes that the banking sector in particular was to be most suited and prime for an immediate rollout of chatbots, although this is for inquiries that are more linear and straightforward like, “What is my balance?” and “When is my energy bill due to be paid?”. For a sector trying to increase its customer loyalty (reputational risks and better deals around elsewhere), delivering these kinds of fast, hassle-free services through chatbots is another means of retaining customers.
In May, chatbot builder Ubisend published a report from a survey of 2,000 UK consumers; 35 percent of whom want to see more companies using chatbots to solve their queries (which is a majority vote of confidence, given that 57 percent of those surveyed know what a chatbot is).
What’s more, though many firms have reservations about losing the human touch in their interactions, marketing platform Hubspot found that that 40 percent of the 1,400 global consumers it surveyed say it does not matter whether they are talking to a human or a robot, as long as they get help quickly and easily.
Chatbots are, of course, just one part of customers’ journeys (download our free Quick Insights report, Journey to the core of customer centricity), to better understand the potential of chatbots. You may also like our webinar, Using AI and machine learning to drive customer centricity in a connected world, which addresses how to drive value from customers who constantly seek the latest innovative, dynamic services.