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What if I were to describe to you a woman who would brighten up every time you called her name, always ready to do what you ask, never argued, never said ‘Not tonight, dear’. Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? Well, there sure exists an identity with such features, with a name too, Alexa. Only, Alexa’s not a flesh-and-blood woman, but Amazon’s Artificial Intelligence-based personal assistant developed for the Amazon Echo devices. With an ability to perform a plethora of tasks simultaneously, Alexa and its related products have ensured that from mending shoes to placing food orders, everything can be easily managed by this bot.

AI: From Research Lab To Movie Halls

Since 2015, the chatbot market has seen an explosive growth of 35% since 2015, with a CAGR of 35% with over 80% businesses expected to develop chatbots which are estimated to bring in $8 billion in annual savings. Within a span of five years, Artificial Intelligence has moved from the domain of academic research to mainstream business communication.

From Google’s DeepMind to the FAIR (Facebook AI Research) program, most tech giants including Microsoft, Apple and Amazon are dedicating a greater part of their services towards developing sophisticated AI programs. These companies are also being given a constant competition from innovative chatbot-dedicated start-ups that are developing new AI and machine learning-based tools. This is also exponentially increasing the presence of AI in various sectors: hospitality, tourism, education, the scope of AI has seen unparalleled expansion.

Chatbots: Most Potent Weapon For Targeted Audience Communication

All our agents are currently busy. We will get back to you as soon as we can. (Music)”

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Remember this all too familiar message? Probably the single most frustrating couple of lines, this kind of recorded message was the zenith of enterprises trying to attain a highly professional image in front of their customers. More often than not, however, this backfired, as customers longed for a human interaction that could register their query and at least provide them with a window by when required action will be taken.

However, this situation is now changing. Today, enterprises are employing chatbots in core communicative functions. Some of the premier enterprises in the country such as State Bank of India, HDFC Bank, Oxigen Wallet, ICICI Bank, Bajaj Allianz, ICICI Lombard, Yatra, Lenskart etc. deploying chatbots to communicate with their customers.

But why is there such frenzy amongst businesses to adopt chatbots into every operational domain? Unlike human sales agents, chatbots provide a 24×7 communication option, which gladly eases the process of consumer interaction and query resolution. Furthermore, the instant and detailed response generated by a chatbot prompt quick action from a customer, elevating the satisfaction they derive from the entire sales process instantly. Also, the communication style of chatbots can be easily personalized according to the preferences of individual customers as well of brands. Their non-intrusive, direct and informed process of communication reduces wastage of effort. Being program based, they can easily be adapted into a brand’s existing digital channel and established a style of communication.

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Data analysis, predictive analytics and pattern recognition, these are three pillars of success of AI chatbots. One of the biggest strengths of a chatbot is that it learns through experience, which effectively means that continuous exposition enhances its capacity of processing data at a rapid speed. While earlier, computers needed programming to react to certain situations, with machine learning, it just needs data feeding, and that is the essential difference.

A chatbot also offers the opportunity of optimization according to an individual audience, thus accounting for more effective communication. By analyzing successive queries, a chatbot develops a greater understanding of the communication patterns of an individual, resulting in every response becoming much more enriched than the latter. The amount of excellence of AI communication can be gauged from the fact that some enterprises are even employing it in the core human interactive domains such as HR!

While there is no doubt that operational efficiency has been improved by automating repeated tasks, the verdict is still out on whether AI conversations can lead to increased customer satisfaction.

Can organizations really cut down manual support costs? Will chatbots lead to a direct positive impact on the NPS? Or do customers still prefer the warmth of humane interactions? These are questions that both enterprises and chatbot companies are still trying to find an answer to in India and globally, but I am confident we will get there. Much like any large paradigm shift, it will take some time and patience to see consumer behavior change to start seeing a material impact. Those who get in early will benefit most in the long term.

Note: The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the author and does not necessarily reflect the views held by Inc42, its creators or employees. Inc42 is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by guest bloggers.