What's new with chatbots?

How have chatbots changed since they were being hyped as the next big thing in digital customer service back in 2018? Are they the actual big thing now?

Doctor Digital Says


Back in 2018, we were sold the dream of the chatbot. They were going to revolutionise the automation of customer enquiries in increasingly human-like interactions. Everyone needed to get on board the chatbot train, or miss the boat. To bot-ch a metaphor. As with all things tech hype, reality has some relation to fiction, so let's see what has evolved in the world of chatbots.

As a refresher, chatbots are those little boxes that pop up on websites asking if you need help, and performing searches and even transactions. They are also used for automated messaging on platforms like Messenger and Whatsapp. Rule based chatbots are programmed to use predefined answers, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots machine learn responses, gaining better human interface and responsiveness the more they are used, mirroring user's behavior.

While chat about bots began in 1950, it was in 2016 that social platforms welcomed them, and in 2018 when they really began to make their mark. So what about 2022, what are the chatbots up to now and what can they do for your business? The purpose of chatbots is to automate simple parts of your business so you can invest your time on other higher-value activities than answering the same customer service questions over and over.

Especially using apps like Messenger, which allows your customers to connect 24/7, a bot can provide enough information to engage, and help manage your flow until an actual human response is needed in the transaction. And it's not just customer support that benefits from chatbots, you can also use them for push marketing, communicating with your customers to educate, inform and build user data for more targeted marketing.

Chatbots are able to take customers through a sales funnel and transact, again this works better for simple transactions such as ordering food and drinks online, or setting up appointments, not so much for complex transactions that need real agile experienced problem solving such as buying a house or a car or comparing the functionality of a washing machine.

If you are beginning to see the benefit of a chatbot, you may be wondering how you get started using one. Good question. These days many bots are available through platforms where you can use a template, and then customise your content, within the limitations of the platform. These types of basic chatbots are simple and a good place to begin if you want to see how your customers engage and whether they are a good fit for your business.

If you are raring to go and want to get a bespoke chatbot, you can have one coded for your business that has its functionality designed for you and your customer's needs, this is a more expensive and time-consuming process, but will yield more targetted results.

Chatbots are almost ubiquitous for many big brands in their sales cycle, and as the chatbot evolves, it is being seamlessly stitched into our customer expectations of always available customer service. In this way chatbots are doing exactly what they were hyped to do, which is not to replace a human, but to streamline and automate the customer journey making transactions more frequent and more efficient.

Could you use a chatbot? Have a chat with our very human and very awesome coaches as part of your free four hours of Digital Ready Coaching available annually to Tasmanian businesses with an ABN. Book a session here.


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