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Chatbots

A chatbot is a conversational software that has become commonplace, whether you open a website or call customer service. It is a bot that chats like humans, i.e., it mimics human capacity to comprehend languages with increasing accuracy as they evolve. Chatbots can understand and interpret both written and spoken text. It is a software that typically carries out automated tasks or performs a workflow. Chatbots’ role to completely replace human intervention is arguable. However, their increasing popularity makes it pertinent to understand their position in today’s business world.

What makes Chatbots so widespread is the way they seamlessly integrate with existing systems. Bots are finding their uses in broader platforms and are expected to make interactions with software easier. Chatbots are used in messaging applications, websites, mobile apps, and through the telephone. The majority of the existing solutions can be added to the bot framework without hassle.

There are mainly two categories of chatbots. Command based chatbots can answer a fairly reasonable number of typical questions. However, for any nonconforming requests, human intervention is required. Command based chatbots use template search or dynamic search to understand questions. Their ability is conditional on the scope of the programming. On the other hand, AI-based chatbots learn continuously, depending on the inputs they receive. Once a thing in movies, we have Artificial Intelligence in chatbots, where humans and machines interact through natural languages. Machine learning enables these bots to learn from human conversations and use that information to provide better responses in the future. AI chatbots use artificial intelligence to establish the users’ intent and return a predetermined response that may include text, pictures, external links, videos, or product recommendations. These chatbots can be used in various contexts, from sentiment analysis to determining the likelihood of the purpose of visits on a website.

Chatbots have led to enhanced customer service. Without waiting for the call center agent’s response, a chatbot can handle various queries around the clock. Instead of long lists of FAQs, customers find it convenient that chatbots return answers to specific FAQs. Chatbots also make online shopping an exceptional experience. Chatbots remember the preferences and use the information for subsequent visits. Personalized communication with chatbots stimulates the customer’s desire to purchase. The speed of processing customers’ requests helps gain their satisfaction and loyalty.

One of the primary uses of chatbots in a business is that of lead generation. Using a conversational approach to marketing, organizations engage lead generation bots to identify potential customers, generate their interest, and foster rapport with the prospects. According to a survey cited in Chatbots Magazine, 67% of the respondents expressed a higher likelihood of purchasing products and services from businesses using a chatbot. Lead generation bots ensure that a visitor is attended 24/7 and receives a timely response. Furthermore, visitors are more comfortable talking to chatbots in this scenario to avoid potential hard-selling exposure. Therefore, lead generation chatbots are the perfect way to automate sales and lead generation processes by turning prospects into leads across client websites and platforms on social media.

Besides, businesses use chatbots to get rid of routine tasks and instantaneously process multiple requests. While many customer queries remain unanswered, or at best get a late response due to bogged down agents, chatbots respond to 100% of messages irrespective of the time of a day or a week. There is substantial evidence based on the trend in sales statistics suggesting that the businesses that use conversational software will be at an advantage over those that don’t.

A combination of chatbots and live chat offers entirety to a communication process in various scenarios. Chatbots help users with search, leaving contact information, or suggesting products and services. However, live chat is preferred when an existing customer wants to register a complaint, or a potential customer needs to derive a price based on certain exemptions. To avoid undue back and forth of messaging, live agents may resolve the issue and improve customer experience. Furthermore, it is cost-effective to live chat with a customer compared to phone support. Live chat agents can share information on various media and multitask that isn’t possible over the phone. Nevertheless, implementing live chat to substitute phone support can improve operational efficiency and overcome chatbots’ limitations when human intervention is essential.

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RPA for SMEs

Organizations are increasingly automating business processes through software automation. Software automation has been simplified and made more accessible to larger populations of businesses through Robotic Process Automation (RPA). A breakthrough in technology, RPA is used to automate rules-based business processes that entail routine tasks, structured data and deterministic outcomes. Organizations report the benefits in terms of costs, speed and error reduction leading to higher ROIs, precisely explaining the popularity of RPA.

At its infancy, RPA was expensive and hence really the technology for larger organizations. However, just as any other technology takes off, RPA has become more and more affordable over time and has broken its barriers to entry into the Small and Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs). While SMEs might be constrained in terms of resources and funds, their flexibility to adopt new technology quickly makes them a better candidate for RPA. According to PwC White Paper, Organize your Future with Robotic Process Automation, “Besides the cost and efficiency advantages, a couple of RPA’s greatest benefits are often overlooked: its ease of deployment and the speed and agility it confers on the enterprise”. SMEs tend to take advantage of RPA through lower costs of implementation alongside their agility to adapt swiftly and hence realize the timely benefits of automation. One can argue that SMEs have a competitive advantage in implementing RPA solutions with negligible delays due to size, complexity and cumbersome administrative procedures faced by larger organizations.

RPA enables businesses to mimic a variety of repetitive tasks that are otherwise carried out by humans in an organization. RPA releases human workforce from repetitive and error prone tasks to be more creative and engage in cognitive problem solving.  As SMEs depend upon a smaller workforce, RPA allows to leverage on a more productive team of employees. With RPA bots working around the clock, there is no downtime for the processes and hence better time and operations management. The implementation and migration to RPA is straightforward as RPA tools interact easily with existing infrastructures, leading to integration with legacy systems completely trouble-free.

RPA tools are usually based on Graphic User Interface (GUI) that connects applications and tasks. This kind of user interface again favors SMEs as users access various functions by single clicks and/or drag-and-drop options with no programming requirements. GUI allows easy switch between automatic and manual modes, transparent bot actions and convenient diagnostics. Since these actions do not require any programming and automation can be carried out by users without involvement of IT, SMEs do not require on-premise IT teams.

SMEs can choose, from the RPA suite, not only what and when to automate but also, how to automate. SMEs can choose a service model i.e., Robotic Process Automation as a Service (RPAaaS) that further slashes the modifications required to current business systems. RPAaaS is a cloud-based subscription solution that uses artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies to help automate vital tasks over the internet. The SMEs enjoy lower initial infrastructure costs and other costs of implementation, lower liabilities and easier exit options. In addition, the automation selection options are flexible and driven by the customer; and implementation is agile and can be managed in multiple phases. Using web-based solutions, SMEs do not need an IT team to handle on-premise hardware and software. For processes where data discretion or regulatory compliances are pertinent, bots can be made to work locally. This hybrid solution provides extra layer of safety and flexibility given that the bots need to be developed only once for both cloud and local applications. Hence, with a hybrid RPA, most organizational issues are resolved!

To sum up, SMEs stand to benefit greatly from RPA. SMEs find it more costly to have their small workforce do less meaningful and more mundane tasks. Through RPA, SMEs can get their employees do more meaningful jobs more productively. In the age of competition, SMEs can stay on top by using efficient workflows and effective systems leading to higher ROIs that come through both efficiency and resilience.