We’ve mentioned the Griefbot and the Dadbot, some of the more unconventional uses of artificial intelligence over in the States. But closer to home, the good old customer-facing chatbot is really coming into its own – and in a big way.
“Follow the money,” a catchphrase made popular by the 1976 film about Watergate, All The President’s Men, has entered the lexicon as a piece of advice for anyone wanting to get to the truth. It’s certainly worth bearing in mind if you want to get a handle on the future of artificial intelligence/chatbots in customer service.
Australian company Flamingo, which offers artificial intelligence intelligence-based customer service assistants, has gone from startup to ASX-listed company worth $42.4m in just three years.
Flamingo has developed two virtual artificial assistants that use machine learning to help financial services providers interact with their customers through what the company describes as a “conversational commerce platform”.
In 2014, Flamingo raised $2.11m in angel investor funding. This was quickly followed by $3m in 2015 in a venture funding round led by Otsana Capital, ahead of a listing on the ASX as Cre8tek.
Flamingo listed with market capitalisation of $24m, and by October 2017 was worth $42.4m. Their major clients are located in the US and Asia-Pacific, including Nationwide Insurance, MetLife Asia, AMP and DirectMoney, Smart Money reports.
In October, Flamingo also raised a further $5.1m via a share placement. According to the Smartcompany website, “The oversubscribed round closed after just 12 minutes, with $10m in bids vying for the 128.1 million in shares that were on offer for $0.04 each.”
Flamingo’s two virtual artificial assistants are called Rosie and Maggie. Rosie deals with complex customer journeys involving sales, quotation, application and payments. Maggie is a virtual enquiry assistant that deals with frequently asked questions.
No agents, just bots
But if following the money doesn’t convince you of the growing power of artificial intelligence, New Zealand insurance startup Cove Insurance says it will soon introduce the first insurance product to be fully managed by chatbot.
The company has been working for a year on the project, and has said that traditional insurance companies were “struggling to connect with [the] younger, digitally-focused market.”
“Chatbots offer a way to open the conversation and educate this audience of the role life insurance plays in their lives, and provide a simple manner to purchase the policy that best suits the individual.”
Cove aims to make insurance easy for the younger generation – moving away from complex procedures and reams of paperwork, towards 90-second policy purchases and even 3-second claims payments.
Bots in all aspects of life
But it isn’t just life insurance – the use of chatbots across all areas is growing in New Zealand. In May, Community Law Wellington launched a chatbot to provide information to parents and students about schools and education throughout New Zealand, saying it would use machine learning and artificial intelligence to ‘learn on the job’.
In September nib said it had become the first health insurer in New Zealand to offer customer assistance from a chatbot. nib said the chatbot, dubbed ‘Frankie’, would “help provide convenient, timely responses to our customers’ enquiries about our recently launched new range of health covers,” and would enable the company to provide 24 x 7 service.
Is it any wonder the smart money is on chatbots?
Customer enchantment with bots
In another previous post, we spoke about enchanting your customers; leaving them delighted by their interactions with you, and creating lasting, positive memories. When your customers are delighted to be doing business with you, they’ll keep coming back, and even better, they’ll be telling everyone about you.
The arrival of Amazon
Not for the first time, however, the imminent arrival of Amazon to Australia and New Zealand has prompted warnings to local retailers, who stand to be left behind in the shadow of the American retail giant.
Market research firm Frost & Sullivan’s ANZ Head of Research, Audrey William, stipulates that Australian and New Zealand retailers will experience “immense pressure to transform themselves because Amazon comes with very sophisticated analytics, a very sophisticated way even of providing logistics and shipping.
“It’s how Amazon incorporates AI, big data, analytics and how they provide a very seamless experience for the customer and at the same time know how to delight the customer, taking them through the journey.”
Artificial intelligence that dramatically simplifies and streamlines your customer experience, all via a helpful and efficient chatbot, could therefore be extremely influential in the journey to start enchanting your customers.
Bots and Premier Contact Point Mobility
At Premier Technologies, we’ve reimagined the contact experience for customers who call organisations with their smartphones (and since 2016, there are more than 50% who do).
With the Premier Contact Point Mobility application, you can easily start delighting customers by using chatbots to manage smartphone communications with your customers.
Provide your customers with a mobile number they can SMS you on, and use chatbots to handle the conversations with them. Delight today’s time-poor customers with the convenience of only having to send a quick text, rather than putting aside time to speak to an agent.
For example, a customer who wants to check on her order’s delivery status need only type a few short messages, and be provided with quick, personalised service when the bot locates her order.
Stay one step ahead and delight your customers with conversational, personalised SMS messages to remind them of key dates.
With AI, your bots can emulate the natural, friendly speech of a human agent, and make each individual customer feel valued. Sending text messages also means customers can reply when it’s convenient for them – and even send follow-up messages much later on if they’ve forgotten to ask any questions.