Bots may lack the initiative that true, fully realized AI promises, but this doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful to us right now.
Day-to-day bots are taking over simpler functions and receiving plenty of press for it. Travel bots are cropping up on many of the major travel booking sites. News and shopping bots are available now from a wide source of outlets to augment, assist, and engage the customer experience.
When it comes to mundane activities, bots are the new black.
Much of life comes down to managing routine tasks like scheduling, shopping or paying bills. The same goes for professional tasks that consume vast amounts of time like paying employees, operations, or marketing. More than an app, bots can take over these repetitive tasks and help humans focus on more advanced work. Here are the things that bots can do better than humans right now — and that you should be using them for.
One of the strong technical abilities bots offer is in executing repetitive tasks like back and forth messages about scheduling meetings. X.ai’s bot Amy, for example, takes over email conversations about scheduling meeting times and then enters results into a user’s calendar. Some bots, like Amazon’s Siri, allow you to use natural language to request that an event be scheduled. Others connect with various services, like Google Calendar and Slack.
Need the same stats on an ongoing basis? Bots are great at compiling numbers and automatically crunching them down into digestible states. Fast and reliable, bots can pull data from multiple sources and keep a running total of sales figures, inventories, and even contacts. Comparing sales figures for customers contacted through email versus social media versus the phone — and many other business analytics functions — can now be done automatically.
3. Customer service
Companies are really cashing in on the power of bots to take care of the first level of customer service. From automated phone trees to little chat bots on websites asking if visitors need help or have questions, bots can assess initial needs and get customers transferred to the appropriate department. This saves money for the company by not having to pay an employee to sit and answer basic questions.
4. Customer relationship management (CRM)
Bots are now built to manage the intricate relationships of businesses with consumers. They can automatically capture customer data and execute marketing efforts to drive new customers, 5-star reviews, and loyalty. Historically, managing customer information and using it to drive revenue for the business has been an arduous and time-consuming task, but now companies can turn to an automated marketing assistant.
5. Conversational commerce
For users wanting quick access to products and services, like a particular pair of shoes or ordering food, bots are the wave of the future. A number of companies are already experimenting with this, from placing orders or requesting an Uber through Facebook Messenger to sending money with Snapchat Snapcash to ordering products with Amazon Echo simply by asking Alexa to do it. Direct sales with bots is a hit with businesses and seems to be taking off with consumers too.
Just like RSS feeds, bots can deliver customized search results. From news to sports, these bots gather what users want to read and deliver it straight to their device. Users can drill down with questions about players’ stats, market indices, or highlights of news stories they want to follow. No more manual searches for the best sites or stories! Plus summary bots do it automatically, providing nearly endless reading material tailored to individual tastes.
Now, a few things to keep in mind about bots.
Not all bots are easy to use: Bots that depend on natural language processing, or the ability to converse with a customer/consumer as if they were a person, can be a bit unpredictable. The technology required to replicate conversations is not quite foolproof and in some cases, using a bot can actually produce more friction than talking to a human.
Make sure the bot is omniscient: In most cases bots are only as effective as the information you feed it. If your data lacks integrity or completeness, the bot is useless.
Give the bot control: Along with good data, give the bot authority to automate these tasks. While you or your marketers may think you know what your customers want, a bot is able to process millions of records in real time before making a decision.
Bots can help your business save time right now, and as their technology advances, so too will their intelligence and abilities. As bots continue to permeate the business sector, they offer an indispensable partnership, yielding increased efficiency and tangible results that can lend your business a competitive advantage.
And who doesn’t want all the help they can get?