Guest post: Can chatbots live up to the hype?

Guest post, written by Chris Booth from Pillar.

The short answer is almost. But not quite.

Chatbots have been getting a lot of traction recently, proving to be useful in many ways. Whether this is through collecting customer details in a conversational manner, like our live chatbot at Pillar, or using bots to create basic conversations to learn a language, like the Duolingo app, chatbots are starting to pop up all over the place.

However, when a company claims to use a “chatbot” or “A.I” the customer usually assumes that the robot can have a full conversation but unfortunately, they fail miserably. The truth is, conversational A.I is still a long way off. Part of the problem lies in the fact that we, as humans, use language as a fundamental part of how we think and thus find it easy to be conversational. Computers, on the other hand, find it incredibly difficult and so we can usually pick out with ease when we’re talking to a robot or a human.

For the data scientist, it’s a hard challenge to tackle because there are small nuances in the every-day language that are hard to pin down but make such a critical impact in communication. The amusing thing is, chatbots have been around since the 80’s and yet they haven’t really progressed much since! At least not for the everyday person.

To be honest, unless you’re a powerhouse, like Google or RBS, who have the funds to develop their own A.I service, we mere mortals are going to find ourselves falling further behind competing against these enterprises.

That’s what we’re trying to change at Pillar. We want to bring the current benefits of A.I and chatbots that enterprises are developing and bring it to the hand of the everyday people. This means that even micro businesses can provide good customer service.

So far, it’s early days, and we’re only new ourselves. But the impact we’re making is huge. One of our clients, Leading Lights Tuition, is already saving an hour a day thanks to us automating their tutor booking process through our chatbots.

Overall, chatbots and A.I are still in their infancy and haven’t progressed much despite the hype. However, with the pace that technology is developing at, it’s well worth investing in one and jumping on the band wagon now. Just think, 10 years ago every business needed a website. 5 years ago, every business needed an app. Today, I believe that every business needs a chatbot.

If you’d like to talk more about chatbots and how they can help in your business, please get in touch.