Why chatbots are set to dominate customer support and service operations

Why chatbots are set to dominate customer support and service operations
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19 Feb, 2018

Nearly a quarter of customer service and support operations will integrate virtual customer assistant (VCA) including chatbot technology across engagement channels by 2020, according to a report from market research firm Gartner.

This will represent a significant jump as less than 2% of such operations used this technology in 2017.

VCAs can be used in a variety of technologies, from informational kiosks to business phone systems building upon older interactive voice response (IVR) technologies.

Chatbots, a type of VCA, are tech-enabled assistants equipped to facilitate customer service engagement by ensuring straightforward and quick-responses, thereby freeing up time for personnel to concentrate on more complex demands.

"As more customers engage on digital channels, VCAs are being implemented for handling customer requests on websites, mobile apps, consumer messaging apps and social networks," Gene Alvarez, managing vice president at Gartner, said. "This is underpinned by improvements in natural-language processing, machine learning and intent-matching capabilities."

According to the report, organisations say that call, chat and/or email enquiries have reduced by up to 70% after implementing VCA. These organisations have also seen an increase in customer satisfaction.

"A great VCA offers more than just information," said Alvarez. "It should enrich the customer experience, help the customer throughout the interaction and process transactions on behalf of the customer."

A Gartner survey last year found that 84% of organisations expected to increase investments in customer experience technology in the near term. 
Gartner also estimates that by next year, 20% of brands will abandon their flagship apps. The firm expects that by 2020, a third of all business-to-business (B2B companies will deploy artificial intelligence (AI) to boost at least one of their primary sales processes. 

In addition, more than 40% of all data analytics projects will relate to an aspect of customer experience, according to the report.

In the last couple of years alone, the use of bot-enhanced customer support has been on the rise, largely due to pioneering technologies that allows businesses to identify and resolve customer grievances through messaging services. 

In India, leading banks such HDFC Bank and Federal Bank have been working with AI startups to roll out chatbots.

KT Prasad, country sales director at Zendesk India, a company which offers helpdesk solutions, said that bot technology is certainly headed in the right direction but there is undoubtedly a long way to go in achieving the level of perfection that customers have come to expect.

"Companies need to make sure that the bots they integrate possess the scale, technology and intelligence to conduct their tasks smoothly," he said.