Chatbots: From Conversation to Transaction – Part 1

Retailers and service providers recently adopted Chatbot technology as it’s an important addition to the variety of channels they use for customer communication and lead generation. It doesn’t cost as much as human–agent interactions, and the interface is quite casual, compared to the more formal and sometimes intimidating classic self-service user interfaces. These benefits position bots as a favored method for exchanging useful information with customers.

At least, in theory they are…

Every technology has its late adopters, but even early-adopting, avid technology buffs would be discouraged from using a chatbot if it failed in one of the two major use-aspects, which are conducting a reasonably fluent conversation with a first-time user, and providing actual value to the user. "Value" in the context of chatbots typically means saving the user considerable time compared to the alternatives, such as waiting on hold for a human agent, or browsing through a lot of webpages in search for an answer to a question.

Conversational fluency requires both choosing the right bot and AI technology platforms, and creating vocabulary and conversation flows that are appropriate to the context in which the bot is expected to operate. From an implementation perspective, you’d expect that getting this combination set up right would be the complicated aspect of a chatbot project.

But as it turns out, while AI technologies rapidly evolve to deliver better conversational experiences, it’s actually the value side of things that businesses need to nurture; particularly how their bot users perceive the value offered. Bots designed to "do everything" typically end up being rather overwhelming and fail in their mission of guiding users quickly and efficiently to getting the desired information or service. Bots focused on a few simple tasks are more likely to actually assist the user.

As Q-nomy operates mainly in the field of omnichannel customer journey management, we have recently been studying what value chatbots can bring to users in the context of the omnichannel, i.e. providing a better experience to customers wishing to inquire online for information on other available channels, and streamlining the journey from the digital to the physical channels.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we'll discuss what we’ve learned and developed!