2018 Will be the Year of Chatbots (Wait, What?)

Before focusing on today’s post, I’d like to wish a Happy New Year to all SugarCRM blog readers. We thank you for your support and hope you’ll regularly check back in with us as we are excited to bring you fresh, innovative and thought-provoking content in 2018.

If you’re like me, today is about shaking off the rust, getting caught up and getting back in the flow to make 2018 a great and productive year. For me, that means a lot of reading about what I missed over the holidays. While going through my inbox I saw all kinds of predictions and numerous articles from respected publications like:

Bots are about to get better at customer support than humans

2018 will be the year chatbot conversations get real

Chatbots? Really?

There is no question chatbots are getting much better. Customers’ questions, at least easy questions, are now effectively being handled by bots. And, that’s a good thing. Handling customer issues like a change of address, or an update about the status of a shipment should be handled by machines. These are the basic tasks that machines will handle that free up humans for more challenging and interesting interactions.

This all makes sense and feels like a good thing. However, the article in Wired says, “Thanks to machine learning, AI-enabled bots could gain a competitive advantage over human chat exchanges.”

I’m skeptical. Sure, you can only hire so many people, and chatbots can scale and interact with thousands of customers simultaneously. In addition, that one main advantage bots have over humans is they can capture and save data faster and without complaint (chatbots don’t find data entry tedious).

I’m still not convinced. Although AI technology is advancing at a rapid rate, there isn’t a chatbot, virtual assistant or voice-activated home device in existence which has the in-built intelligence to identify the full range of human emotions – and then adapt its responses accordingly to keep the customer on-board and not upset them further by saying the wrong thing. Despite claims by some, we have a long way to go before AI technology can prove it can offer products and services sophisticated enough to understand human sentiment, for example, and apply the learnings appropriately throughout the customer journey.

Instead of replacing or becoming better than humans, I see bots and humans teaming up to offer superior customer service in 2018.  Imagine a scenario where the human takes the lead in interacting with the customer. The bot is operating in the background and is available to instantly provide information to the human based on the customer’s requests. After the conversation ends, the bot makes sure all the details are saved and/or updated in the CRM system. In effect, the chatbot supports the employee, not the customer. If we, as an industry, can get there – then sure, 2018 is the year of the chatbot.

6 thoughts on “2018 Will be the Year of Chatbots (Wait, What?)

  1. Chatbots would easily become better than humans responses because of the nature of tons of existing data. And Andrew has correctly pointed out the pain of data entry would become the one big reason for the switch over. But we all have to come to the realization that we should not expect (fake or real) empathy from Chats anymore.

  2. The real issue I see is to make the customer feel enabled and that they are saving time also. It must be a win-win solution/fix.
    Only that will keep the customer engaged, once they feel like they are being held back, delayed, and wasting time, we have lost them.

  3. As more companies come to embrace chat functions to complement or reduce human phone centers, rudimentary human-to-human chat conversations will soon be a thing of the past, according to experts in the field. In the next three to five years alone, chatbots will become nearly ubiquitous, and work seamlessly with human customer support agents to provide customers with efficient, personalized responses. Engati is a chatbot platform that allows you to build, manage, integrate, train, analyse and publish your personalized bot in a matter of minutes. It presently supports eight major messaging platforms including messenger, kik, telegram, line, viber, skype, slack and webchat with a focus on customer engagement, conversational commerce, and customer service and fulfillments.

    Read more about it here http://www.engati.com

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