Business transformation in 2023: Chatbots

Jan 27, 2023
Martech Thought Leadership

What’s all the hype around chatbots?

According to Mordor Intelligence, the chatbot market is growing over 34-35 per cent between 2021 and 2026, when the market is expected to reach $102 billion.

Driven by advances in natural language understanding, chatbots have become a staple of digital transformation in customer service, healthcare, and financial services by providing intelligent interactions between people and a digital interface. The hard fact is that virtual assistants are increasing because of deep neural networks, machine learning, and other advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies.

What is marketing’s role in promoting useful trustworthy chatbots as a part of most business solutions?

Marketers are primarily tasked with informing on a product or service’s unique selling proposition and competitive differentiators. This means focusing on value before simple FABs and price point. Right now, it’s more prevalent to see chatbots in retail compared to other industries. With chatbots being a hot buzzword, what remains top of mind for us these days is: Should brands transition towards fully automating their online customer experience and service pages with chatbots? Do chatbots even really matter? What are the benefits of using chatbots? A question for consideration is: What is the role of chatbots and conversational AI in business transformation today?

The chatbot market has seen increased interest and rapid adoption over the last five years. During that time, the products and platforms enabling the building of chatbots have been extremely diverse and have evolved considerably.

Types of chatbots

Essentially, there are three main types of chatbots: 

  • Task rule-based – referred to as ‘simple’
    • Simple chatbots have limited capabilities and are usually called rule-based bots. They are task-specific.
  • Content-based AI – referred to as ‘smart’ 
    • You will notice that content-based has a much more complicated functionality and contextual awareness that requires less training data and that can actually perform the task in a smart fashion for the customer without any human assistance.
  • Hybrid – a combination of both
    • Hybrid chatbots are a combination of simple and smart chatbots.

What are social media bots?

Social media allows marketers to connect and engage potential customers where they are at: LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and even some of the younger platforms like TikTok. With a strong social media strategy and the ability to create engaging content, marketers can attract their audience. Here are seven methods to determine if an account is a bot and if an influencer has a bot following:

  1. Abnormal account activity
  2. Ratio of engagements
  3. Followers versus engagements
  4. Follower origin
  5. Follower bios/copy
  6. Percentage of followers with newly created accounts
  7. The retweet test

Freshdesk has a simple infographic to illustrate the four types of marketing chatbots:

  1. Support bot
  2. Social media bot
  3. Agent-assist bot
  4. RPA bot

What type of AI are chatbots?

Chatbots are a form of AI used in messaging apps. They are automated programs that interact with customers like a human would and cost little to nothing to engage with. This tool helps add convenience for customers.

The most recent hype is around OpenAI’s brand new chatbot, ChatGPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer). This transformer architecture model is capable of processing large amounts of text to perform natural language processing tasks very effectively. While CX chatbots might leave web surfers and customers with more questions, the ability of ChatGPT to parse and present information is impressive.

How are chatbots changing the overall customer experience?

A customer data platform (CDP) is designed for marketing. It collects and unifies first-party customer data from multiple sources to build a single, coherent, complete view of each customer. It then makes that data available to marketers to create targeted and personalized marketing campaigns.

According to Forrester Research, 90 per cent of customer service leaders agree that personalization is core to the future of automation, and existing chatbot technology is stalling their efforts towards digital transformation. What does this mean for marketers? Quite simply, it means that the right chatbot personality can improve brand and customer experience. 

As marketers, we can do a better job of communicating the benefits of using chatbots.

Interview on chatbots

Hear from Jamie Beach, Technologist-Solutions Architect at Interac Corp, whose primary area of expertise is emerging technology and AI.

Q&A with Jamie Beach:

1. What is your chatbot strategy, goals and objectives? 

Supporting the customer base and offsetting their customer support (CS) call volume and inexpensive approach – the benefit of the financial industry and organizations with a large customer base. The answer is repeatable because they see similar questions and provide answers without customers having to call into the CS support line. It's only been feasible in the last decade with AI, the ability to answer questions using natural language processing, anticipating what the customer is going to ask (25 per cent of calls are for password resets, for example) and then people slowly and naturally get used to using a chatbot.

2. Do you have an automated omnichannel strategy? Tell me about how you will incorporate chatbots in your automated omnichannel strategy.

Chatbots are out of the box with omnichannel capability. A chatbot enables you to interact with the person or ask questions about company services, like the experience you have on a website. For example, the automated agent takes you through the more common questions, then eventually takes you to an actual human, which supports numerous engagement channels.

3. What are your KPIs to measure the success of using chatbots to help with your customer service?

Never set KPIs. It really comes down to the amount of time that your call volume has been decreased in customer service. Some cost is related to this as well, so measure customer experience around that. NPS score can be reflected with poor or really great feedback. The good news is that the technology and user experience is getting better and better.

4. Are you using a static or conversational AI approach for your chatbots? Tell me about that approach.

Here's our knowledge-base customer being able to understand the questions and what the AI understands (less structured approach and being able to leverage various knowledge bases that already exist) versus a press 1, 2 or 3 static AI approach which brings the user into a more structured approach and understanding their intent.

5. Have you deployed chatbots to additional channels? If so, which ones? If not, what are your plans for the future?

It’s best to think about how chatbots are being used by company giants such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Google; They are using out of the box experiences. For example:

    1. Microsoft Azure can handle SMS, email, web and Cortana
    2. Amazon can support all traditional channels of interacting with the chatbot
    3. Google uses the same channel of engagement; the capability is one single capability
  • In each case, you can build up your Q&A but will ultimately interact through text or voice (out of the box).
  • More and more companies introduce an omnichannel experience with a core chatbot capability. You get a similar chatbot experience whether via text or voice or guided workflow that it will take the user through.

6. Are you using rich text and content in your chatbot replies? Tell me more about your reply strategy to customers.

When you use a text-based approach, there's an opportunity to bring up images and things that aren't necessarily on the web – a rich experience pointing to videos and diagrams. Another area is for chatbots to onboard new customers – getting a lot of information from them and taking them through a guided journey to get their information, create a package and set up an account. For example, financial services and insurance companies use the guided journey, incorporating rich elements, even buttons. We’ll probably see more of that.

7. Are you embedding process automation in your chatbot experience? Tell me more about how you use step-by-step guides with your automated processes. 

Again, with customer onboarding for example, there's a process there. There's a huge opportunity to leverage customer automation to take the customer through guided workflows. You see this heavily in the insurance industry, when filling out the myriad of insurance forms to make a claim. It’s a guided journey that is pleasant to fill these things out. Using natural language processing is a way better experience than printing out a form and sending it in. More and more users are leveraging chatbot technology for an easier user experience.

Special shout out to Martech Council member,
Michael Annett, who assisted with the development of these interview questions.

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Lidia Feraco

Professor, School of Business, Conestoga College




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