As artificial intelligence advances by leaps and bounds, the websites are equipped with novelty tech marvels. The hype around the chatbots has been building up for some time, and this year we see it going through the roof. Consequently, chatbots are springing up across the digital universe like mushrooms after the rain. They might be more that a new buzzword, but are they heralds of the new age of robots? Well, those who think their takeover is inevitable should remember that call centers have survived the internet revolution.
Customer service departments in a slew of industry sectors have embraced chatbots. These autonomous applications help users achieve a wide array of tasks via conversation (chat). Many enterprises are even going an extra mile and developing their own versions of chatbots. The social media behemoth Facebook has announced that the Messenger will host more and more of these AI helpers in the following years. These developments point out to the trend of widespread adoption.
It’s clear that such a surge is rooted in the benefits that chatbots offer. Why waste human resources on tasks if the technology can do the heavy lifting? Digital assistants are capable of gathering a vast amount of information: Using rule-based logic and language processing capacities, they can also address simple needs. These cutting-edge working behind chatbots are the driving force, but also a hurdle on the road to their takeover.
A double-edged sword
Namely, surveys have shown that the majority of users do not recognize the clear value that the rule-based digital assistants add. Many of them take chatbots with a grain of salt, while others feel deceived. Hence, the real question is not what can chatbots do, but what lies beyond their capability. Automated chats are a pale reflection of the real conversations and chatbots merely a formless effigy compared to real humans.
As a result, customers still seem to prefer human representatives because they seek empathy, assurance, and fulfillment of their complex needs. In other words, chatbots have not yet evolved to the stage that is necessary to garner emotions and connect with customers on a deeper, meaningful level. They simply fail to grasp the nuances in conversation and cannot go beyond mimicking empathy.
Human after all
Many would agree that in the tumultuous digital era, the human face of the brand is even more important. Experts argue that company representatives must be ready to jump in should the customer feel the urge to speak to a real human being. Thus, ease of implementation and possibility of cutting costs on customer service accounts for just one segment of the equation. Chatbots are a viable method of interacting with customers, but as service agents, they perform poorly.
Of course, that does not stop chatbots from being an integral part of user experience and customer service. Besides, there is no stopping the roaring locomotive of progress and there is no doubt that the AI will become even more sophisticated. That being said, we are still light years away from the world in which chatbots are on par with humans when it comes to the power of emphasizing, conceptualizing, and binding.
A long way to go
The use of chatbots will rise in 2017 and beyond. Yet, this is not to say they will make human employees obsolete. The benefits are evident, but so are their shortcomings. As the former abound and the latter vane, the proliferation of digital assistants is expected to gain even more traction. At the same time, their adoption will depend on the ability of brands to employ them as tools for addressing customers’ wants and needs. So, as it turns out, chatbots cannot yet fully replace humans. At least they cannot pull it off yet.