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Anticipated Chatbot Trends for 2018

Conversational UI gained widespread attention in 2010 with Apple’s introduction of Siri to iPhones globally. In just months, users of all ages were employing voice assistants to compose emails, initiate Google searches, send texts, and set reminders. Siri revolutionized how consumers interacted with technology and businesses forever. Soon, giants like Google, Amazon, and Microsoft followed suit, unveiling AI-powered tools enabling individuals to converse with machines in a more human-like manner.

In a world where real-time messaging dominates our communication landscape, these platforms presented an ideal solution for businesses seeking to enhance customer engagement throughout the buyer’s journey. With a majority of Internet users acknowledging that issues like confusing navigation, insufficient communication, and a dearth of business information significantly impact their satisfaction with a website, chatbots empowered businesses to address common customer inquiries and guide their online experiences naturally and cost-effectively.

Chatbots in 2017

2017 witnessed the realization of many of these promises. Facebook introduced new chatbot capabilities to its Messenger system, enabling members to discover and interact with thousands of businesses via chatbots. The social network also extended chatbot functionality to other platforms, providing businesses with plug-ins to host chatbot messengers directly on their websites. Simultaneously, Microsoft integrated chatbots into its popular CRM platform, Dynamics 365, empowering businesses to seamlessly incorporate chatbots into their existing customer service workflows. Other chatbots like Shopify’s Kit and FirstJob’s Mya streamlined and optimized various business processes, from marketing and advertising to recruitment.

What Lies Ahead for Chatbots in 2018?

The journey of chatbots has only just begun. Presently, AI is in its nascent stages, tapping into the immense potential of NLP and deep learning to enable more dynamic customer interactions and operational capabilities. According to media agency Mindshare UK, 63% of individuals are open to using chatbots to engage with businesses and brands today. Additionally, a projected 27% of the global population is expected to be utilizing chatbots by 2019. Accenture estimates that the US chatbot market will triple to $1.86 billion over the next couple of years. Whichever way you look at it, we are entering the era of chatbots. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s on the horizon.

Continuity

As businesses integrate chatbots across their web and social media profiles, endeavors are underway to consolidate all conversations into one platform. This way, when users pose a question on Facebook and then navigate to your website, the website’s chatbot can seamlessly continue the conversation from where it left off. This spares customers the frustration of reiterating the same points across multiple platforms.

Widespread Adoption

A recent Oracle survey revealed that at least 80% of brands are planning to incorporate chatbots into their customer service functions this year. These intentions are not exclusive to established Fortune 500 companies. Travel agencies, small businesses, healthcare providers, and telecommunications firms are all looking to leverage chatbots to enhance their front-end.

Deeper Insights

Chatbots may also hold the key to extracting insights from big data. While analytics software and BI tools have been entrenched in corporate environments for years, non-technical executives still grapple with maximizing their utility. Emerging chatbots are equipped with formidable AI capabilities, potentially allowing them to turn deep learning toward comprehending business processes across the enterprise. Armed with these newfound capabilities, executives can engage with their analytics platforms conversationally to extract the strategic insights they require.

Streamlining Enterprise Processes

With digital adoption surging across organizations, many businesses are managing multiple critical applications. For employees, increasing technological complexity can hinder productivity, as they must navigate different interfaces and understand how to access and utilize each one. Chatbots could serve as a natural bridge between these diverse applications, enabling users to manage tasks, logins, updates, and information retrieval through a unified conversational platform.

Sentiment Analysis

A traditional shortcoming of chatbots has been their ability to understand the intentions and emotions of various users. This limitation has largely confined chatbots to first-line customer support until now. By integrating a sentiment analysis layer into the bot’s natural language processing engine, chatbots will be capable of extracting key phrases and words from user messages and comparing them to a database of terms weighted by emotional sentiment. This enables the bot to grasp the customer’s mood and adjust its messaging accordingly.

Sentiment analysis has long been employed in politics and marketing to gauge public sentiments on specific topics. Armed with these insights, businesses can fine-tune their communications to align with prevailing attitudes. In a chatbot, these capabilities can be used to discern positive or negative emotions in real-time and tailor responses accordingly. If a customer appears particularly agitated, the chatbot could even escalate the matter to a live representative for more in-depth assistance.

If this technology evolves as users anticipate, organizations could potentially scale back their increasingly costly call center departments. Instead, these centers could be reserved for a select group of expert agents capable of addressing more complex customer concerns.

Apps Embracing Conversational Interfaces

Rather than relying on users to navigate new software independently, app developers are integrating conversational platforms into their products. In-app chatbots can assist with urgent user queries, provide updates and changes, and facilitate navigation.

Chatbots as Live Assistants

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Recently, event organizers have begun integrating chatbots into live experiences. A chatbot-equipped app could be deployed to furnish information and personalized assistance to attendees in various ways.

  • Directing users to areas of interest or specific facilities.
  • Providing essential details like WiFi passwords.
  • Offering real-time schedules for planned activities.
  • Setting helpful reminders and notifying users of potential delays or no-shows.
  • Enabling users to provide feedback and ratings for activities throughout the event.

In Conclusion

All these Chatbot trends won’t materialize in isolation. There’s still much in the pipeline for the future development of NLP and other bot applications, awaiting more mature technology to stabilize and refine them. So, keep in mind: refrain from rushing into implementation before major players in the tech industry make their moves. Sit tight and await the next strides taken by these tech giants before making your move.

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