Chatbots are a well-known concept. It is quite likely that many of us have already interacted with a bot in our everyday life – whether on social media such as Facebook, WhatsApp, mobile applications, websites or even SMS. These virtual assistants have, in recent years, become very popular support tools for companies.
In fact, because they simulate human conversation – both written and spoken – they have ended up becoming the perfect business allies, whatever the industry in which they are integrated. This rise in popularity is mainly due to consumer expectations around being able to enjoy the digital experience 24/7, without having to limit their interaction with brands to opening hours or the availability of telephone lines.
At Xpand IT, we’ve been involved in different bot development projects for some years now and, therefore, we understand the importance these tools hold for any business. Utilising this valuable experience, we’ve written a chatbot playbook where we explain in detail what a chatbot is, what the different types of chatbots are, and how they apply to different business realities; without forgetting the advantages that can be obtained by implementing these virtual assistants.
Chatbots’ implementation approaches
Chatbots are tools that ensure a company is always accessible and available to answer customer requests – whether these are simple chatbots able to answer your customers’ most frequently asked questions or more complex chatbots that can utilise artificial intelligence technology throughout the interaction with the customer. We follow two different approaches for implementing this kind of digital channel:
- Programmatic approach, building highly personalised bots according to our customer’s needs – at both functional and UX/UI levels;
- Low-code approach where, taking advantage of Microsoft’s Power Platform and Power Virtual Agents, we can build a bot without the need for programming or knowledge of artificial intelligence.
Regardless of the implementation approach, chatbots are becoming essential tools for any business but they become even more important in disruptive times such as the crisis we’re all currently experiencing, as they can alleviate and help companies handle unexpected customer demand. This kind of customer support guarantees that no customer is left without an answer in times of need. In reality, chatbots are tools that can make a real difference in scenarios that are absolutely crucial, (e.g. helping to free contact centres, so that employees can be available to serve those who really need help).
100% digital is the new normal
It is no surprise that, at the present time, the vast majority of companies and their employees are working remotely, having been required to adapt their work methods in order to be able to remain active during this period. This is, in fact, the new normality for an increasing number of countries and what this new normality demonstrates is that it is becoming increasingly essential that companies be prepared to keep their operations going remotely in the event of catastrophes (regardless of their nature) or any other changes in the social, political or economic context that occurs on a national or global scale.
If even before this pandemic we advocated the importance of digital channels for companies that wished to keep up with their customer needs and expectations, now – at a time when we all have to allow the world is changing – it becomes even more obvious that digital is the new normal. Companies that are digitally prepared, using appropriate channels, are best equipped to resist the economic and social impact that will be the result of the many changes we are currently going through.
Being an agile company is not just about having the appropriate knowledge or the resources to be able to understand the constant unpredictability of the markets, the needs of consumers and their changes in behaviour or even the constant technological innovation. Being an agile company means finding creative solutions, exploring new paths and new tools that allows a company to act – in a timely manner – in a relevant way during uncertain times. These capacities, not only of preparation but also of action, are what often decides the survival of some companies and not of others.
Uncertain times can become pivotal moments for any company or business, as they can often present an opportunity to reinvent internal processes that originate new ways of thinking and acting, not only within the company but also to the outside world. In our view, uncertain times are also opportunities to reinvent the way companies interact with customers and find ways to offer more value to their daily lives. This is exactly what a chatbot allows you to do.