Are chatbots right for your business?

Written by: Phillip Nones

As artificial intelligence leaches into seemingly every corner of our lives, it’s no surprise that the same thing is happening in customer support.  Chatbots are one manifestation of the AI phenomenon.

Thanks to the rising use of text and online messaging as well as voice assistants, people have become more comfortable “chatting” with brands in their search for information and answers.  Chatbots harness AI-enabled technology to connect people with a “conversational” program to answer their questions or engage in other brand interactions.

They’re growing, too.  Gartner forecasts that by 2020, close to half of all large and medium-sized businesses will have incorporated chatbots into their digital strategies, with non-human online interactions making up more than 80% of the online interactions between consumers and brands.

Essentially, chatbots take static FAQs and move them to the next level.  Like FAQs, they’re available 24/7 — but they’re more robust and can respond to more pointed queries and conversations.

That’s where it may become challenging to implement.  To determine the amount of complexity your company may be taking on, consider the level of chatbot interaction is needed for your business:

·      “Bronze”:  Immediate connection to important, frequent and/or recent information

·      “Silver”:  An intuitive chatbot functionality that delivers answers from a repository of information

·      “Gold”:  Functionality that understands complex sentences and unstructured data to return accurate information

When considering the chatbot solution that’s best for your particular situation, begin the process by conducting a thorough conversational flowchart analysis of the types of questions your website or customer service area receives from everyday users, and develop scenarios of answers that a chatbot could provide.

As for the technical tools to guide your chatbot creation, numerous resources have sprung up over the past few years.  If you’re having difficulty knowing where to start, working with a seasoned outside resource makes sense.


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Important COVID-19 Announcement

At Mullin/Ashley, we’re very concerned about the well-being of our customers, employees, business partners and communities currently battling to control the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) threat.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan announced that effective Monday, March 23, 2020, all non-essential businesses in the state must close their offices.  A follow-up pronouncement on March 30 instituted further “stay-at-home” orders for Maryland residents.

We are complying with these mandates.  In fact, in anticipation of the Governor’s announcements, we had already taken steps to reduce our social footprint by setting up all Mullin/Ashley employees to work from home, with no interruption in the delivery of services.

In addition, travel activities by our staff have been severely curtailed since early March.

By taking these steps, we’re committed to continuing to provide our customers with the services they need, even as we work to reduce our social footprint.

As of July, certain workplace restrictions have been lifted but social distancing mandates continue in force.  We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will continue to take all necessary steps to minimize the risks from the COVID-19 virus.  Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work collectively to control the Coronavirus threat.

— The Mullin/Ashley Team