Why are chatbots gaining traction amidst COVID-19?

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has occurred at a time when connectivity and communication is at its peak. Still, keeping pace with the distribution of information remains a challenge for some industries. Many are struggling to address multiple user queries, not to mention the stress it is causing on employees; this is especially the case with the travel sector. As more and more flights started to cancel, travel and hospitality experts were and continue to be flooded with calls and chats. At times like these, brands are realizing the importance of chatbot technology to ease the pressure and create a systematic customer service process. A chatbot is an artificial intelligence (AI) software that has the ability to simulate human like responses. It is one of the most popular channels for brand communication today. In fact, as soon as COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, Google was one of the first platforms to launch its own chatbot with the help of AI.

The primary function of chatbots is to act like a virtual assistant and provide answers. In the current scenario, conversational automation which includes chatbots and voicebots are able to regulate tasks and promises an exceptional conversational and digital user experience.

Sharing critical information

Chatbots have the ability to serve the most pressing updates without spamming people. With a crisis on one hand and changing customer needs on the other, chatbots are in high demand from several industries because of their capability and functionality. Brands can share information updates through push notifications during a crisis instead of waiting for users to get in touch with them. They play a critical role in helping people receive crucial news and updates and are becoming increasing important and relevant during the novel coronavirus.

Chatbot capabilities:

  • Interpretation Skills

Customers can ask questions using their own words and chatbots can deliver intuitive and intelligent online experiences. They are able to process the user’s query and respond according to an algorithm that infers the message and shares a suitable response. With NLP (Natural Language Processing) algorithms, chatbots can interpret, determine and define a series of appropriate actions based on the user’s query. For e.g, classifying your query as urgent/non-urgent.

  • Long-term memory

Before responding, chatbots follow a series of algorithms to process the intent of the question, these algorithms are stored in the memory. A chatbot’s job is to remember you as a user and store your details intelligently so as to refer to them whenever you revisit. It is thus able to answer most questions in a smart way by remembering you and evolving over time to be able to answer questions that are off-topic as well. For e.g., remembering your postponed flight tickets.

  • Emotionally Aware

With the use of psychology, chatbots are able to use customer insights from the chat contexts to provide them with better service. They are also able to detect instances that need human intervention so as to prevent any unwanted situation. It is not just the words used by the user that helps chatbots determine the level of urgency or the type of response, but also the tone in voice and the context. For e.g., a user using words with negative connotations would help the chatbots categorize them as negative reactions.

  • Playing different roles

Chatbots can be classified depending on the purpose they solve. Either they help you collect information or help you complete a task. As intelligent agents, they play many roles such as; processing, collecting, storing and eventually converting data. They take ownership of all roles and identify the problem and present a solution to the end customer. A chatbot offers strong potential for curated updates and information. Many companies are using chatbots to provide information on COVID-19.

Conversational automation in times of crisis

B2B and B2C brands are switching to chatbot technology for sales support, customer services, as booking agents and more. When a crisis such as the one we are currently facing occurs, it becomes difficult to accurately gauge where affected members will seek out information. To attend to your customers, there is a need for proper tools that can manage several tasks at once. Chatbots help in evaluating customer’s needs, can handle high traffic on multiple platforms and help funnel information to users as per their requirement.

IGT’s conversational automation features are equipped with the right tools, partners, procedures, frameworks and experts who have experience in solving travel business problems thus not only bringing operational efficiencies but also enhancing end user experience.

Our cognitive capabilities include:

  • Natural Language Processing (NLP)
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR)
  • Speech Recognition & Transcription
  • Machine Learning

Companies have started looking at chatbots as an important part of the COVID-19 crisis situation as opposed to just an addition. They only enhance the efforts of humans and in times of a crisis, it’s important we leverage its features so that we are there for our customers in times like these.

Author :

 

Gurmeet Oberoi is a researcher and writer of change tactics and technologies in travel and other verticals, she frequently posts across the digital ecosystem. With 9-yrs of experience in communications and marketing, Gurmeet has a passion for travel and reading among other things. She can be reached at gurmeet.oberoi@igtsolutions.com