When Conversation Bots Overthrow their Text Bot Grandparents

A recent column on the SalesForce newsletter highlights the growing acceptance of chatbots on service websites. They are ubiquitous for ecommerce, but some innovative programming at Georgia State University created an example of transforming real outcomes using the technology. Using the chatbot for admitted students, GSU provided more than 200,000 answers to questions and reduced the attrition of students matriculating by 22 percent. That meant 324 students stayed enrolled and made it to class.

The new SalesForce Report shows that most business is not yet as sophisticated as GSU. The chatbots tend to greet customers, collect initial customer data for service inquiries, accept payments, and explore the goods in stock.

None of these tasks are particularly intelligent. The answers are often hard coded into the Bot, though some sophisticated AI may be helping to sort the way the questions are asked. As the AI becomes better at unstructured data, this should further improve.

The real usage spike will occur when the Bot moves from text to voice. If the consumer can pick up the phone and get a Bot on the line in seconds that can answer most questions and provide helpful information and a return call for those services requiring human intervention, then the growth will truly take off.

The public already expects this promise to be met. The SalesForce data shows that 78% expect a response in under five minutes from a service provider, and 42 percent of the public think the response should be immediate. As demonstrated by the chart below, the expectations of the use cases are also much broader than currently employed in industry.

The real lesson, however, comes from the Georgia State University experience. By engaging with customers, identifying the questions the customer wants answered, and then being able to answer all of them, the discussion between Bot and customer will lead to satisfaction and retention.

One can only wonder how soon before TutorBot and TeacherBot will be upstaging the classroom.

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