What is the future of chatbots in business?

2019 has seen many companies transform their customer service with chatbots. The chatbots we use today are the culmination of decades of work and innovation. In fact, it’s been over 70 years since the Turing Test, one of the first ventures into artificial intelligence technology. It’s certainly exciting to contemplate how far technology has come. That being said, in this article we’ll be looking ahead. As we continue to realise new possibilities, what is the future scope of AI chatbots?

A Growing Presence

Chatbots give companies a competitive edge in today’s market. They make services faster and more cost-effective, whilst remaining attentive to customer needs. But are we on the cusp of all customer service roles being automated? Studies in 2017 predicted that by 2025, 95% of customer interactions will be powered by artificial intelligence. While the exact numbers may vary, similar studies have found results in line with this trend. The benefits of chatbots for companies are clear, but the important question is whether customers are embracing them. Customer expectations have shifted over the last few years. Today’s consumers want instant results and round-the-clock access to customer service. A recent survey in the United States found that the top two benefits of chatbots are “24-hour service” and “instant responses.” Advanced chatbot technology means there no longer has to be a trade-off between convenience and quality. It’s important to remember that humans provide a benchmark for how chatbots help customers. No matter how far technology advances, humans will never be redundant. Chatbots may begin to handle the majority of customer interactions. However, they will be working in tandem with human beings to provide long-term value.

Advanced Decision Making

Chatbots serve as a cost-effective extension of a customer service team. They help meet audience demands for fast and accessible service. They may not instantly solve every query they encounter, but they provide an important first line of support. In the future, chatbots will be making more advanced, autonomous decisions. Deep learning gives chatbots the ability to think independently. As chatbots continue to analyse data, their ability to learn becomes more sophisticated. This means chatbots learn in a way that is similar to the human brain. You can learn more about deep learning in our introductory guide. So what kind of advanced decisions are chatbots now capable of making? Firstly, they are able to escalate a more complex query. Chatbots would always attempt to understand an issue, regardless of the complexity. However, customers would get frustrated if repeatedly asked for clarification. Therefore, chatbots can now independently decide to pass the query to an appropriate team member. Deep learning means chatbots can analyse data to identify patterns and trends. They can be proactive in identifying a customer’s desired result, or a sales opportunity. Soon, chatbots will be able to judge situations and predict outcomes with greater accuracy.

Human-Like Communication

While chatbots may be able to think like humans, the challenge lies in whether they are able to talk like humans. Conversations are dynamic and unpredictable, not to mention subjective. Chatbots need to be able to understand not only the words a customer is using but also the meaning behind them. This becomes more complex when we consider how meanings can shift based on context. Advances in Natural Language Processing (NLP) will help chatbots better understand human speech. NLP is a process in which algorithms are created to help chatbots understand language. All successful conversations abide by certain ‘rules’. These rules help chatbots interpret what is being asked of them, so they can provide an appropriate response. It may seem contradictory for chatbots to talk in a way that is less ‘robotic’. However, if chatbots are to become the norm in customer service they must be able to communicate ‘authentically.’ So how can this be achieved? Chatbots must be able to decipher language that is not only written but spoken. They can be confused by variations in tone, as well as different accents and dialects. This is explored in our article ‘Should AI Chatbots Employ Dialect?’ In 2019, the technology has made exciting progress. However, we have not yet fully reached that point where chatbots can communicate in a way that is indistinguishable from humans.

A Greater Understanding of Emotions

Empathy is key to effective communication in customer service. When a customer approaches a company they want to know that their feelings are being understood. But will chatbots ever be able to truly understand how humans ‘feel’? This formed the basis of pioneering research at the University of Beijing in 2017. Researchers collected 23,000 sentences and ‘tagged’ them with a certain emotion. These sentences and their respective emotions were compiled into a dataset. This dataset was then used to program a chatbot via a deep-learning algorithm. The bot would then be able to associate a sentence with a certain emotion and respond accordingly. There have been recent examples of 'companion chatbots' using this kind of technology. These chatbots gained public attention with the launch of Replika in November 2018. Described as the 'AI companion who cares', the Replika app has been downloaded over 2 million times. While we may never know exactly what the future may hold for chatbots, the benefits they have for organisations are undeniable. Do you want to be part of the future of artificial intelligence? If you want to future proof your service with an AI customer service chatbot, contact We Build Bots today to book a demo.