What does the future hold for chatbots?

In our latest report, Tech Trends Transforming The Insight Industry, we identified chatbots as a key area to watch. Chatbots are being used by brands to help consumers do everything from finding their nearest store to checking opening hours. But they’re still a relatively early-stage technology. So, what’s next for chatbots?

From customer service to sales and marketing

The main use of chatbots to date has been for customer service. In the coming years, we expect to see ever more brands adopting the technology to aid their sales and marketing efforts. According to Oracle, a whopping 80% of businesses plan to use chatbots for sales and marketing by 2020.

Facebook Messenger will play in a key role in driving sales through chatbots. In November 2017, the firm announced the ability to make payments within the Messenger interface, mimicking a service that’s already available on WeChat, China’s leading messaging app. This will allow brands to provide automated, yet personalised, virtual sales assistants the platform. And there’s certainly appetite for this: 37% of Americans say they would be willing to make a purchase through a chatbot.

“It’s likely that your consumers are going to be buying products and services through Facebook Messenger” says Murray Newlands, CEO and Co-Founder of ChattyPeople, and one of the experts we spoke to as part of our research. “Bots are the interface for how businesses deal with consumers, so if you’re not following that and you’re not going to be part of that, it could be like not having your business on the internet.”

From text to voice

In addition to social networking sites like Facebook Messenger, another platform that could spur the growth of chatbots – albeit in a different form – is voice assistants.

Smart speakers, with in-built voice assistants, such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home have become a real hit with consumers with 9% of UK households owning an Amazon Echo just 12 months after release.

Chatbots, via a voice assistant, would provide an even quicker service than text-based chatbots by removing the need to type questions. As smart speakers continue to grow in popularity, we expect this type of voice-enabled chatbot to really take off.

From pre-set responses to AI

As chatbots become more advanced, they will move beyond providing fixed answers to a limited set of questions and start using AI to intelligently learn and respond to the inputs they’re given.

This is a really exciting development. As the AI capabilities of chatbots become more sophisticated, the technology has the potential to take on a wide range of roles, replicating services traditionally provided by people. This will reduce labour requirements and costs for brands. And allow them to deliver a highly personalised service at the same time. Applied in this way, chatbots have the power to disrupt entire industries.

Interested in learning more about chatbots and how they could change the way we approach research? Download Decidedly’s latest report: Tech Trends Set To Transform The Insight Industry.