Chat bots for enterprise: Is the business world ready?

Rob McNair, CEO of Myclever agency discusses if businesses are ready for chat bots as a customer service tool

In the last year we have seen chat bots take the consumer market by storm and this trend shows no signs of slowing down. Chat bots are add-ons for messenger platforms such as Facebook’s Messenger platform or Microsoft’s Cortana that provide automated, intelligent responses to questions, mimicking a conversation with a real human being. Brands using chat bots aim to provide users with a seamless experience, enabling them to access services and information directly and instantaneously. The potential gains for big brands are undeniable, but could businesses be using chat bots to get ahead too? And if so, what are the big considerations?                                          

Recent research shows that customers have already warmed to the idea of using chat bots to communicate with brands, with many believing they hold the key to speed of service and unlocking immediacy in online stores. When asked for the most useful applications of the chat bot, 46% of those surveyed believed they could respond to emergency answers and 40% to be forwarded to the appropriate human advisor. These results suggest that the chat bot could be just as effective in the B2B space too, as providing customers with a communication tool to solve complex problems quickly could save time, resources and improve satisfaction rates.

Overhauling old school processes

While the current buzz around chat bots has mainly focused upon big consumer brands and household names, under the radar enterprise chat bots are also making waves. In the accounting sector, bots have enabled the automation of tasks such as ordering a part, giving an estimate and answering customer queries. Accounting giant Sage recently announced the beta launch of its chat bot Pegg, which is built to manage all business admin through familiar messaging apps.

Chat bots can also provide businesses with a platform to turn their expertise into an interactive dialogue, with the potential to revolutionise the way in which information is shared both internally and externally. This could not come soon enough, as there is a real demand to improve efficiency and drive value for money in enterprise - a technological shake up could be the way to phase out dated processes.

Potential for chat bots within enterprise

Chat bots could transform the B2B market by taking command of the more tedious business tasks such as filling in forms, answering customer enquiries and compiling data. Liberating staff from these tasks as a result can save time for more innovation and business development.   

Bots are particularly useful when they are introduced as an extension of an existing messenger platform that a business has in place. Mobile messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger are generally a good bet when it comes to chat bots, as they maximise the potential for adoption amongst employees, as the platform is already used regularly.

So, what are the key considerations when it comes to developing an enterprise chat bot?

1. How wide should deployment be?

Once the developers get the go-ahead to build a chat bot for a specific business, one of the most important things to consider is how widely it is introduced. The bot should be able to correctly answer general questions about all areas of the business and right across the supply chain, from manufacturing to delivery. The integration of enterprise chat bots into the communication mix needs to be slow and steady, as it is likely that there will be some initial teething problems. However, as bots continue to proliferate in the consumer space, it is expected that we will see the pressure mount on enterprises to develop software that matches and even surpasses consumer counterparts.  

2. Does the bot have artificial intelligence (AI) capabilities?

Where standard chat bots can provide simple answers to simple questions, AI chat bots can go a step further and learn as they go, delivering helpful responses based on commonly used phrases, such as ‘where is my order?’. Whilst AI bots are still in their infancy, given enough time these bots can learn about more complex phrases and even recognise language patterns from users all round the world. For businesses, chat bots could answer customer enquiries internationally, which in turn could help to bring in new business and save on resource.  

If an AI chat bot is required, then it is important that the artificial intelligence engine is bespoke to the enterprise itself. This means that the chat bot can be taught information that is specific to the organisation, without a risk that this information could be shared anywhere else. 

3. Is the chat bot secure?

To prevent classified information leaking outside the organisation, it is essential that chat bots provide a high level of security when it comes to giving out information. Measures must be put in place to ensure the information is delivered securely and is protected during and following transport. However, this must not impede the chat bot’s ability to learn and engage with new information.   

Chat bots could hold the key to unlocking a whole new era of business where staff are free to create and generate ideas whilst technology handles the rest. However, chat bot technology will only be effective if it is supported by the right people and processes. To strike the perfect balance, businesses should find the right mixture of technology and the human touch to provide a streamlined approach. If implemented correctly, chat bots have the potential to improve productivity across the board.