Last fall, San Francisco-based Intercom launched Answer Bot, a bot that uses machine learning to answer customers’ most frequently asked questions. Answer Bot enables businesses to tap into AI and see value from bots by combining a powerful machine learning engine with an easy-to-use curation tool, making it easier than ever for businesses to implement and actually get value from bots.
On average, Intercom said, Answer Bot instantly resolves 29 percent of customers' most common questions and improves customer response time by 44 percent.
Intercom is a U.S.-based software company that produces a messaging platform which allows businesses to communicate with prospective and existing customers within their app, on their website, through social media, or via email. As of October 2018, Intercom had 30,000 paying customers. In this eWEEK Data Points article, the company’s Director of Product Management, Brian Donohue, presents his point of view on the bot landscape and offers advice on how and why businesses should be adopting automation.
Data Point No. 1: We’re Entering the Age of Automation, and There Will be Three Outcomes for Businesses
Automation is inevitable and will drive the next step change. There are three possible outcomes for businesses in the age of automation.
- Outcome #1: Businesses wait too long to see where this new technology goes. They will get left behind by the competition.
- Outcome #2: Businesses adopt it early, but in the wrong way. Businesses who don’t respect their customer and use bots to juice their short-term KPIs will damage their brand.
- Outcome #3: Businesses who incorporate the right automation technologies in the right way as soon as possible and before the competition will experience unprecedented growth. The fastest-growing businesses in the future will understand and implement automation that works for them and their customers.
Data Point No. 2: Bad Automation Will Destroy Brands
Bad automation will become the hallmark of a bad brand, while good automation will become the expectation. Good automation that will drive growth and transcend human scale across every stage of the customer lifecycle.
Data Point No. 3: Bots, Counterintuitively, Can Make Business Personal
Before the internet, all business was personal. The internet introduced scale but stripped away the personal. Intercom reintroduced the personal, but initially put the scale at risk. Being “personal” isn’t just about having an actual person available. It’s about giving customers a personalized experience, respecting their time and space, and getting them to their ideal outcomes, as fast as possible.
We see time and time again in research that customers are happy to engage with bots when their answers are relevant and the experience is smooth. Convenience always wins, as long as it doesn’t come with cost of frustration. Bots doing their job well can actually deliver a magical experience to the customer, because they didn’t have to wait around to get their answer.
Data Point No. 4: Bots Aren’t Driving Value Because They’re too Hard to Build
We’re on the upswing of the hype curve, where after the initial disappointment and over-hyped expectation of bots, we’re now starting to see more modest, but very real, value delivered. This will value will only grow.
Bots are getting smarter, but even the smartest bots from the biggest companies are failing to make an impact because they’re incredibly complicated to build. They require a ton of learning, a lot of work and are really technical--you essentially need a degree in bot building to get up and running.
The opportunity is there for the company who can make smart bot technology approachable to the companies who need to use it, and set it up. This means companies will be able to adopt bots successfully, at scale, and will start seeing real value of AI and machine learning.
Data Point No. 5: The Best Bots Will Connect to Messenger Apps
Messengers are beginning to power more than chat and messenger apps let business happen inside the messenger for increased efficiency and a frictionless customer experience. Google’s Meet Intercom app, for example, lets customers start a video call without ever leaving the Messenger. Bots that are connected to messenger apps bring new levels of automation to businesses and streamline workflows that would be otherwise silo-ed. Messenger apps allow every bot conversation to end with an actionable and personalized next step.