AI Chatbots: The Dream vs. The Reality (Pt. 1 – Delight)

The concept of “artificial intelligence” often gets invoked as a buzzword by enthusiastic tech theorists or marketers, but in this series, I’ll show you how AI chatbots are used right now by real companies with real business objectives. I’m not a theorist or a marketer, I’m someone with experience implementing AI chatbot solutions which provide value to businesses, as well as their customers.

So what could your AI Chatbot do for you? If you’ve got a vision of what a perfect bot could contribute, it might look something like this:

The Dream

  1. It delights my customers
  2. It automates tasks, saving my customers and employees time
  3. It “learns” about my business and improves itself automatically over time

In this article, we’ll take a close look at that first dream state and see if the current chatbot reality lives up to the hype.

Q: Will an AI Chatbot Delight My Customers?

A: Probably not–but does that matter?

While consistently delighting customers is a stretch for most chatbots, I’d keep the following in mind before losing any sleep:

It’s effortlessness, not delight, that users want

A chatbot should be optimized to give customers fast, easy answers and resolutions. The bot’s responses and flows should be designed not to elicit smiles, but to avoid smashed keyboards or phones. Using data, testing, and intuition, you can build a chatbot that can answer a large percentage of your customers’ questions.

Now, I’m not saying your chatbot should be devoid of personality. In fact, giving your chatbot a distinctive persona can make the experience enjoyable for your customers (while showcasing your brand voice).

Humans love anthropomorphizing things. Whether it’s a cat, a car, or a chatbot, it’s easy for us to ascribe human attributes to things we interact with. Though your customers should know they’re speaking to an AI, if you have vibrant, consistent language, and a clear visual identity, it’s likely that they’ll start interacting with the bot more as if it were a human.

This is a great opportunity to enlist other departments in your company like marketing, PR, or design, as a chatbot can be an awesome representative for your company’s brand. This can definitely be a fun part of the bot building process and an opportunity to get creative.

Once your bot is out in the wild, you’ll be able to better understand how your customers will use it. Learning from these interactions, you’ll gradually increase the number of situations the bot can smartly respond to, and inject moments of fun, humour, or joy.

I’ve worked on a chatbot for a B2C telecommunications company which has been live and improving for a few months. For some reason, intrigued customers were asking it about food (its favourite food, what they should have for dinner, etc). So we made an intent which would respond suggesting a food the customer might try for dinner that night.

Later that week, a customer came in to the chat and, after having his question answered, started testing the chatbot. After entering in some queries that the chatbot didn’t have a good answer for, he told the bot to “Eat s**t”. The bot replied, “For dinner tonight, how about a good old pot roast. Doesn’t that sound nice?”.

I like to think the customer cracked a smile at that 😉

In Conclusion

When building a chatbot, focus on making the experience effortless for your customers, and don’t spend too many cycles brainstorming how to delight them. Consistent customer delight, the way a top-notch hotel concierge is both charming and useful, is still years away.

Basically, the dream of a delightful chatbot isn’t quite a reality, but nor should it be a top priority. Effortlessness, not delight, drives customer satisfaction.

In the next article in this series, we’ll learn how chatbots can automate workflows to save you and your customers’ time, and we’ll see if the reality can live up to the hype.

About Cale Shapera

Cale Shapera is a Chatbot Architect at Comm100. He uses his experience in web development, knowledge management, and technical writing to create cutting-edge AI chatbot solutions. Connect with him on linkedin