Technology has always been an enabler of sorts, from empowering the market to easing the lives of an everyday man. It’s tenacity in being the “most talked about” segment doesn’t seem to fade as new innovations are set to make the world look at wonderment. Yet, what one requires to talk more about is how technology has largely influenced the art of assistance by our cellular devices through the addition of chatbots in our system.

What are chatbots, you may wonder? This is a computer programme powered by artificial intelligence and machine learning, which performs a set of functionalities as per the user instructions by recognising speech and data. Does your beloved Siri come in mind? Certainly, Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s Allo are few of the most illustrious members of the chatbot role call and have contributed to the fame but the whole concept of assistance had started from Clippy, that memorable Ms Office assistant.

Of late, businesses have started deploying them for commercial usage despite their personal applications origins. Going forward, these are primed to store, synthesize and use the reserved data to channelise high end automation in businesses. Chatbots visualised by the tech industry combine the precision of artificial intelligence with the relatibility of voice recognition, coming together to create a seamless union of complete automation.

A simulated situation emerges where customers feel they are communicating with another human, rather than a sophisticated product of microchip and programming. Not surprisingly, businesses seemed to have warmed up to the idea of utilising this ubiquitous innovation for their own “assistance”. Businesses have been moving towards automation and the semantics of customer-centric messaging has been becoming prompt and expeditious with each passing day. For example, the CNN chatbot sends users news stories as they unfold.

Users can then reply to the stories requesting to read the full story, or receive a 50 word summary. Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp send over 60 billion messages per day. What’s also instilling hope in the advent of chatbots is the way market leaders like Google, Microsoft and Facebook are voicing their support for growth.

This has also been complemented by the recent advancements in the field of machine learning supplemented by mobile messenger domination and dramatic reduction in chatbot development costs.

The following use cases clarify the impact of chatbots on the business:

E-commerce

A typical use case for e-commerce would be that of a conversation between a shopper and his search patterns. The chatbot can assess the shopping patterns of the customer, shop for similar trends using the stored cards. This can assist with discount codes, shipping information, out of stock items, upsell, save your interests and filter recommendations for smarter and personalised shopping experience. Bots like ChatShopper are gaining prominence for the same.

Customer care

Chatbots typically got the potential to replace the existing conventional BPO or call center systems with automated chatbot mechanism. They can comprehensively absorb the human interaction and understand the query patterns and replicate the same for further queries. They can self detect the answers and be empowered to solve basic concerns automatically without human intervention. The best example for this scenario is the Facebook Messenger, which is vastly used by more than a million users per month and is growing faster than Facebook.

Travel and leisure

Chatbots can suggest the best places to visit, manage accommodation, and set up timely reminders to get there. What becomes easy with the chatbot is that the horrendous research that has to be done to plan a vacation becomes simple and organised. Bots like Instalocate and Kayak does the exact work for you.

Consumer behaviour

Chatbots have the potential to gain feedback and put to use the same for customer retention. This can figure out the search trends and suggest you the feasible option that you are looking for. It can engage customers by responding to their queries. It can also analyse the patterns of customer queries and help the business teams to improvise the whole process. As time progresses, an increase in usage and development of this programme would be seen, setting the stage in the field of communication and help businesses grow and enhance their service channels. Voice search is pretty exciting territory that is being utilised by chatbots, at the moment. This is the area that will see the largest development in the voice perspective.

(The writer is chief executive officer and co-founder, Solutions Infini)