AI & Chatbots: the future is yesterday

Chatbots and artificial intelligence. Two concepts from which we can no longer escape. For those who are not occupied with it on a regular basis, it’s hard to understand what they can do and how they can help our organizations. Luckily Maarten Verschuere  came to give us a glimpse into this world. With his years of experience as data analyst and CEO of Clever, he is the perfect person for this.

Clever designs customer service automation systems, also known as chatbots. They are fully customized and made as human as possible so that the customer can have a positive, informative and personal experience with an automated interlocutor. The ultimate goal of these chatbots is to make sure that customers are helped faster, at any time of the day and without having to wait on the phone for someone from the customer service department to be available.

The new era

Whether we like it or not, the world is moving forward. We are more connected than ever. Not just amongst people, but also with our devices. Your mobile phone automatically links to your car, to make hands-free calls and listen to Spotify. Your computer makes an automatic connection with your sound system and your television when you are at home. And some even activate the lights in their home when they’re almost home. All logical and handy, right?

Well, now we’re entering the next era: that of Artificial Intelligence & Robotics. The era where people and machines will work together. In fact, digital natives are already used to it and have already developed a completely different expectation pattern. They expect everything to happen faster than real time, they expect everything to be hyper-personalized and want products or brands to make their lives noticeably easier. Any brand or product that doesn’t meet these requirements will unfortunately no longer be on the agenda.

Customer satisfaction: how?

In order to maintain maximum customer satisfaction, there is one medium that remains essential: customer service. What often leads to annoyance now, can be streamlined by implementing customer service automation (chatbots). If you know that in retail 80% of all questions to a customer service concern the same 6 subjects, you immediately get a first idea of the opportunities that there are for chatbots. And of course the bot isn’t entirely there to replace the customer service, but rather to complement it. The employees can follow the conversations of the bot, and when the bot can no longer help or is on a wrong track, they can intervene. This allows them to focus on questions that really require human interference.

Chatbot 101

When do you benefit from using a bot? You first need to get an idea of the scope of the questions your customer service department receives. If a large part (at least 60%) of the questions are about 4 to 5 subjects, you are good to go. Afterwards, you have to consider in which manner people talk about these subjects. In other words: how do they formulate their questions and how can the bot answer them. These have to be entered manually. And possible spellings and spelling mistakes must also be taken into account. Other important details, such as store locations, opening hours, etc., also have to be entered manually. Of course, the flow of the conversation also needs to be considered thoroughly. When you ask about the availability of products, it is of no use at all if, at that point, the bot tells you where to find a store.

This is one of the biggest annoyances when people are in contact with bots. There is a need for a solid API (application programming interface). This ensures that different systems and databases can communicate.

Secondly, the user experience must be good. Illogical twists in conversations or dead ends are a no-go. Customers want the conversations to feel as natural and human as possible, so that we hardly need to be aware that we are talking to a bot. Other irritations are spelling mistakes that lead to the end of a conversation because the bot does not understand the question, or a bot that asks for data when this is not really necessary.

Chatbots are a process

Chatbots need time to learn. It makes no sense to install the bot, to work on it for a few weeks and then to leave it as is. The AI only works when there is enough input. Just like a website is dynamic, so is a chatbot: it needs to be monitored, adjusted and supplemented continuously. It is necessary to provide sufficient resources to maintain this.

Something to think about

Anyone who thinks that this whole bot-thing and AI-story is science fiction, should get back to his bed and dream on. All of this is no longer knocking at our door, but is already a reality. Just look at the increasing presence of Google Home’s and Alexa’s in the Netherlands for example.

When the newest digital natives grow up with these voice assistants, and they don’t know other ways to search anymore, then everyone who is involved in this development will reap the benefits. And anyone who is too late will be left dazed. Something to think about and… not let pass by unnoticed!


Written by Peggy Storme – Junior Marketing Consultant

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