Chatbots are a huge untapped resource for businesses. In 2016, over 1.5 billion people used messaging apps, and every one of those people is a potential user of a chatbot.
As a guest editor over the AI and bots section at VentureBeat, I see many submissions come through that discuss how chatbots will revolutionize one industry or another. Most of the hype about chatbots that we’ve seen so far has centered on the consumer-facing side of things, with companies using the bots to interact with customers. Unfortunately, this ignores one of the largest potential markets for chatbots: streamlining internal business operations. There is untapped potential here that business owners need to be taking advantage of.
The impact this resource can have on your business is hard to overstate. People love having access to help whenever they need it, and chatbots can be interactive enough to give the illusion that you’re dealing with an actual person. In fact, Gartner predicts that by 2020 only 15% of a customer’s relationship with a company will be handled by a human. And with internet speeds constantly increasing (almost 25% of the United States now has fiber access), the interactions can be seamless.
Let’s look at some ways chatbots can be used to turn your workplace into a well-oiled machine.
1. They Can Streamline Customer Relationship Management
Some companies that use chatbots for support and customer relationship management (CRM) report over 30% increased efficiency, and this is with them being used in only one relatively limited capacity. As they spread to other areas of business, like sales and recruitment, experts predict even more efficiency and impact on margins.
2. They Can Help Cut Expenses
Chatbots essentially perform the functions of an employee in your company, without requiring the paycheck that an actual employee would. They can also help free up time for your employees by handling mundane tasks, allowing employees to focus more on what you pay them for. The end result is lower payroll per project—you don’t need to pay an assistant, and your employees can get more done with their time.
3. They Can Serve as Personal Assistants
They can’t fully replace a human worker, but chatbots can serve as automated assistants for staff, helping schedule meetings, set alarms, create to-do lists, and more—essentially streamlining workflows for employees. This not only makes life easier for them but can also keep everyone on the same page, which improves overall organizational efficiency.
Many companies already use chat and messaging services like Slack, and implementing a chatbot in that environment would be a natural extension of the service.
4. They Can Offer Always-On Customer Support
Chatbots can provide on-demand customer support 24/7 without needing to have a support staff on hand at all times. While a bot isn’t likely to be walking anyone through anything too complex, they can handle the basic queries themselves, and automatically escalate tougher situations for when actual human beings will be in the office. Some companies report up to 20% fewer questions for staff to deal with thanks to chatbots.
Like other AI tech, chatbots have the capacity to broadly integrate into almost any company. By using chatbots, you can improve efficiency, and you can rest assured you aren’t falling behind the latest technology. If the benefits above sound appealing, maybe chatbots can help you out. The next steps in integrating chatbots at an organizational level would be to come up with a strategy that is best-suited for your company and its unique needs. Contrary to common belief, chatbots aren’t a ‘one-solution-fits-all’ technology. You will need a plan in place for the creation of a custom bot in order to obtain optimal benefit from the integration.