Chatbots are now becoming a mainstay in enterprises.
Chatbots can help enterprises engage clients in a more human-like fashion.

These are fast becoming a tool for enterprises to enhance customer interaction, writes Sharil Abdul Rahman

“HI!” says the chat window as users converse with the person on the other side of the screen to help them complete important but mundane HR tasks like requesting leave or even calling in sick. With every line of the chat sounding natural, you may think that the person responding to your request is a human.

But it is not. Chatbots are now becoming a mainstay in enterprises, as they help companies to save cost and be more efficient in delivering personalised data and experience to their employees and customers.

What is a chat bot? How does it help companies achieve better performance?

A recent webinar, organised by Microsoft and Ramco, revealed a few insights into the phenomenon that is gaining traction in the enterprise world.

While it is something new in the business world, chatbots are not exactly cutting-edge technology. It has already gained a big following and garners a big engagement number in the consumer sector. Chat applications such as WeChat, Line and Kik have long featured chatbots where users can ask questions in the chat window. It replies as if a human is answering it in real-time.

NEXT NEW TREND

Brands have taken advantage of these platforms to engage with customers in a more personal manner, as the chat window is a one-on-one interaction between the brand and the user.

For the enterprise space, the concept is still the same, but the application that uses the interface and system is geared towards increasing productivity. Sandeep Ray from Ramco Systems believes that the chatbot is the next new trend that companies should be banking on to add value to their services — both for their employees as well as customers.

“This year is a great year for chatbots. Microsoft is leading the pack in giving the needed tools to push Conversation as a Platform (CaaP) in the enterprise space. CaaP has existed in the consumer space, but what is catching the eyes of the industry now is the ability to connect the bots directly to the enterprise space, as well as the applications that have been built previously, but in an interactive and intuitive way,” says Sandeep.

These new waves of intelligent agents can help enterprises take the next step in client engagement, in a more natural and human-like fashion. Unlike the sterile and impersonal emails that are usually sent back and forth between recipients, chatbots are more engaging and even learn from previous interactions, thanks to machine-learning and natural language processing.

Another big plus for enterprise is that system is available virtually 24/7, giving employees and customers on the field instant access to data, regardless of location or time zone.

Danette Seward, senior director for Microsoft Asia, talks about how the intelligent aspect of the chatbot can bring changes to how enterprises operate on a day-to-day basis. “Microsoft believes that the most impactful data-driven solution is not only analytical, but also has built-in intelligence that can assist and augment organisational capabilities in new ways.

Different markets can take full advantage of the chatbot that can intelligently retrieve the required data in context to the query given. For example, a chatbot in a healthcare environment can interact with a patient, which can deduct the state of the patient’s health by reading the tone of the reply given. This, in turn, can help the system alert the necessary medical staff for potential emergencies that may arise.

These scenario are still in development, but the power of intelligent system, machine-learning and Big Data can help make this vision come true in the near future,” Seward said.

NEW CHAPTER OF CUSTOMER INTERACTION

Developing a chatbot for enterprise use involves deploying a single system that can be rolled out to many platforms, as chatbots are mainly web-based applications. This saves on development cost and allows a rapid rollout throughout the enterprise, as compared to a tailor-made app-based help platform that may or may not be supported by environments that are currently deployed.

Another advantage of chatbots is the ability for enterprises to quickly customise and personalise each different chatbot to cater for a specific target market. This flexibility is crucial as it gives the companies leverage to be one step ahead of their competition in delivering an experience that is well-received by their customers.

The enterprise space is primed to leapfrog into a new chapter of customer interaction — and it all starts with a simple “Hello” in a chat window.