When I’m usually speaking about Artificial Intelligence, I’m involved in ethical conversations ranging from self-driving cars programmed to kill you in a crash for the bigger benefit of others – like school kids running front of your vehicle – to a robot world domination and human slavery.
But today I wanted to write about chat bots. Yes, those little bots that will be appearing on your messenger apps in no time.
What is a chat bot?
Chat bot is an artificially intelligent bot, which allows you to have a pre-programmed conversation with a company or a media in your messenger app. It works just like you’d have a chat with your friends – except that you’re speaking with a machine. Quite handy if you want to order for example a burger or a taxi via messenger app instead of browsing through different apps and sites. Equipped with AI, more you chat with them, more they will learn to anticipate your needs (Pizza Friday!)
Artificial intelligence has come a long way with systems like Microsoft ‘s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, Google Now, and Amazon’s Alexa, but it’s still in its infancy. And just like kids in a bad company, sometimes the little chat bots can learn bad behaviour and manners from the people they hang around with. On the other hand, if you give them a chance and have a normal conversation with the little bots, they can be very helpful like Xiaolce “the therapist” chat bot in China used by 40 million people.
But can chat bots replace human social engagement in the future?
Until recently, majority of companies still found thousands of excuses not to engage personally with the customers on social networks. Why? Because it takes work and effort to engage and have real conversations with people, and it’s far easier to just post one-way content like on the good old days.
So of course, chat bots seem to be the time-saving, efficient answer for the above dilemma that will bring higher ROI. Why to engage with people personally, or via community managers, when you can just pre-program a machine to do it for you?
“When given the choice, people will always spend their time around people they like. When it’s expedient and practical, they’d also rather do business with and buy stuff from people they like. And now, they can.”
Gary Vaynerchuk, The Thank You Economy
Customers want to feel special
With all these technical advancements we sometimes forget that we are talking about human beings with real emotions, opinions and a desire to be heard, to belong. People have an overwhelming amount of choice and they are looking for relationships, they want to be someone who matters. They want to build identity through their brand, and the products and services that they use.
Customers are more than a number in your balance sheet and they know it. To build loyalty, you have to make them feel appreciated. They need to feel they’re more than just a simple transaction.
Making them feel special requires work and personal interaction that AI chat bots can’t provide. However, building a long term relationship with your customers means that they will be buying more from you more often, and will praise you to all their networks. Never underestimate the power of Worth-of-Mouth. It can bring some serious ROI for you.
Artificial Intelligence is a tool, not an alternative
While we’re more and more submerged in a digital world, we still live in a physical world full of people with emotions and a desire to feel special. Considering that over 90% of the global consumers expect brand or company to have a self-service portal, chat bots with AI can become incredibly useful additional tool to provide support as well as easy transactions and orders.
But what comes to social engagement – let us humans speak with our fellow humans.