Last week we attended the premier Gartner event on customer experience in London. With a full 2-day schedule of in-depth sessions, workshops and use cases, the event was a whirlwind tour of all things customer experience and support related. Coverage was world class with excellent speakers talking about the latest on the topic. Our eye was out for the development of virtual customer agents (chatbots) and the way in which enterprise is adopting artificial intelligence. There was much more discussed that I have written down below and if you have any further questions, reach out indrek (at) alphablues.com, but here are the key learnings we took:
- The chatbot space for enterprise is still early. 2016 was the year when Facebook Messenger lead the charge in chatbots but enterprise is slowly starting to pilot first use cases. Needless to say, customer service is one of the top items on their agenda but expect pilots to evaluate the use of such solutions.
- The terminology is evolving. What we have are Virtual Personal Assistants (think Siri, Google Assistant), Virtual Customer Assistants or VCAs (what we do), Virtual Employee Assistants (e.g. Slack chatbots for supporting employees) and chatbots (specific use case based narrow chat agents). It shows how the world of chatbots is evolving into multiple streams with specific functionality for a variety of applications.
- The vendor landscape is not mature yet. There is a wide variety of technologies from large tech companies to CRM companies to startups and everything in between. Companies are suggested to try out those technologies as pilots rather than build solutions in-house.
- Customer service improvements inside enterprise are happening as multi-year internal projects. VCAs can be additional value to those projects.
- The main benefits that VCAs can bring is the increase in speed (instantaneous replies with 24/7 availability) and increase in customer satisfaction (the company actually answered my question 🙂 ).
- For enterprise one of the main assessment factors when considering chatbot is the ability to scale as the volumes that need support are considerable.
Having talked to multiple large enterprises and also tech vendors it is visible how companies are getting increasingly interested in chatbots and VCAs. While it is still early days, the short-mid term benefits that chatbot adoption can bring in terms of cost savings and speed of delivery is understood by many and remains to be seen how the landscape will have evolved by next year’s summit!