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30.11.2023

Chatbots in companies: Examples, opportunities and challenges

The integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into the world of work is no longer an exception these days and it continues to advance. Alongside voice assistants, chatbots are among the most popular types of AI. According to a study from EOS from 2021, 65% of companies with private customer contact are already using chatbots – and the trend is rising. It is therefore important to look at the areas of application of AI and chatbots in companies.

Anyone considering the use of chatbots should know that they cannot replace employees in a company. Rather, they serve to channel the burden of tasks, or at best reduce it, because by automating simple tasks, chatbots can help to shorten the processing time of customer inquiries and make customer service more efficient. In addition, by relieving employees of routine tasks, they have more time to focus on complex tasks, which can have a positive impact on productivity and job satisfaction.

Choosing areas of application of chatbots

If you have decided to introduce a chatbot in your company, you should make the first use case as simple as possible. This will help you to ensure a high level of acceptance among customers and increase user-friendliness. In addition, by gradually expanding the chatbot's functions, for example by integrating artificial intelligence or machine learning, you can continuously improve the chatbot's capabilities and align them with customer needs.

Furthermore, your company should generally have mastered the use of messengers if you are planning to use the chatbot to interact with customers. This is recommended as these chatbots are currently mostly used on Facebook, WhatsApp or similar platforms.

When using chatbots, it makes sense to assign them to a specific domain and to communicate transparently with end customers about the areas in which they can provide support. This is particularly important when it comes to transparently demonstrating the limitations to an end customer.

Chatbots in customer service and virtual assistants for data collection

One of the most important areas of application for chatbots in companies is customer service. Customer inquiries can be answered around the clock by chatbots using AI, thus relieving the burden on customer support. Time and resources can be saved because employees only intervene in more complex matters.

Another way in which chatbots can be used is to automate data collection: for example, surveys can be used to record customer preferences and needs and the information gained can be used to improve the product range and marketing strategy.

In addition to customer service and data collection, chatbots are also increasingly being used in sales and enable companies to automate their sales process and thus increase turnover and efficiency. In this way, companies can also generate sales outside of business hours and without additional staff.

In summary, chatbots offer companies numerous application possibilities and are mainly used in initial contact. They can be used to improve customer communication, collect data and generate sales.

Factors influencing costs in various sectors

Developing a bot for highly regulated sectors, such as healthcare or financial services, requires the implementation of comprehensive security protocols, which can lead to higher development costs. In industries with a lot of customer contact, such as travel or retail, chatbots need to integrate a wider range of dialogs and have a robust design, which also leads to higher overall costs.

The level of interaction also influences the development costs of chatbots. If they use a simple flow of questions and simple rules are implemented for the communication structure, development costs can be reduced. In contrast, pursuing an NLP (Natural Language Processing) based approach, which attempts to capture the mood and tonality of the user, increases complexity and therefore costs.

Limits for use

So far, only a few end customers can imagine talking exclusively to (intelligent) chatbots in customer service in the future. According to surveys, the majority of consumers prefer to interact with a human employee rather than using a chatbot.

As a general rule, chatbots should always identify themselves as such (machines), as it is important for the majority of end customers to know who they are interacting with. Action steps such as retrieving weather information, flight status and FAQs usually cost less to develop than more complex functions.

Conclusion

Each company has to decide individually whether a chatbot makes sense for its particular use case. However, the technology has potential for every industry. Whether exciting stories for end customers, informative content in the B2B sector or good service in customer relationship management – direct and individualized contact always has the potential to inspire and retain customers in the long term. Although people initially only think of consumer products and services when it comes to chatbots, this can also be an exciting solution for suppliers, for example. However, it should not be forgotten that operating a chatbot also involves effort, as decision trees and phrases have to be continuously adapted. It therefore takes time to plan and implement a chatbot project, but if you start too late, you will miss out on potential opportunities.

About the author Mathias Latzko

Mathias Latzko from Hamburg has been working in the IT industry since 2001. His experience ranges from the position of IT consultant to software engineer, where he is proficient in various programming languages. He has extensive knowledge in the migration of development and business processes as well as the modernization of software architectures. The focus of his current work is on technical consulting in the ServiceNow environment.

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