Chatbot Technology in 2022: What to ExpectChatbot technology advanced leaps and bounds in 2021. But this year is shaping up to be even bigger and better for everyone’s favourite money-saving, problem-solving customer service tool. With this in mind, we thought it would be a good idea to take an in-depth look at what we can expect from Chatbot technology in 2022. State of the Sector Today, Chatbots can no longer be described as ‘the next big thing’ in customer service technology. They are the big thing. There’s no ‘next’ about it. In 2021, the worldwide Chatbot market hit approximately £62.8 million in revenue (Statista). That’s almost double the total for 2018. By 2027, it’s anticipated the market will bring in £342.7 million in revenue. The industry is well-established but continuing to grow at a remarkable rate. https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/chatbot-technology-in-2022-what-to-expect-1.jpg The COVID pandemic has had a significant effect on the way customers engage with businesses and public sector services. It’s driven more people online and placed greater emphasis on digital communication channels. McKinsey suggests that the pandemic has forced organisations to cram three years of digital development into a matter of months and rapidly accelerated the speed at which new digital tools are adopted. This lightning quick development also reflects a drastic change in customer behaviour. In July 2020, 58% of customer interactions were digital - that’s more than a 20-point jump on the pre-pandemic figure (McKinsey). For many companies, Chatbots have been the primary means of managing this large increase in digital enquiries. But what does the coming year hold for Chatbots? What emerging trends look like they’re going to really shake up the customer service industry? Where will the technology be at the end of 2022? Let’s take a look. Chatbots as Payment Portals One of the key Chatbot trends in 2022 will be the move towards greater payment processing power. While many Chatbots already process basic transactions or link to an approved gateway, we’re likely to see ‘Bots play a much larger role in guiding customers through the process. Chatbots will also allow for integration with a wider range of payment services, such as Paypal and digital wallets. This will ensure they’re more versatile, more comprehensive and better equipped to fully automate customer enquiries. At the same time, organisations will be able to utilise the payment data shared with Chatbots to upsell and offer recommendations via the conversational interface. Natural Language Processing and Sentiment Analysis Over the next year, there will be an increased focus on developing Chatbots’ abilities to understand the meaning, intention and sentiment behind text-based interactions. This will largely be achieved through the use of two types of technology. https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/chatbot-technology-in-2022-what-to-expect-2.jpg The first, Natural Language Processing (NLP), is a broad technological and scientific field that attempts to equip computers with the ability to understand and process human languages. This is necessary due to the way machines aren’t able to “understand” meaning or intent. In other words, they cannot read between the lines and they have trouble understanding figurative or metaphorical language. Unfortunately for Chatbots, these are key features of human conversation. NLP technologies utilise machine learning techniques to teach computers to better comprehend the nuances of language, allowing them to communicate in a more personal and human manner. Within the broader category of NLP, exists a specific field known as sentiment analysis. Sentiment analysis attempts to provide machines with the means by which they can extract subjective information (opinions) from written text. This means that, rather than just pulling hard data from inputs, they’ll be able to “understand” the author’s attitude and intention when writing it. For a Chatbot, this would be remarkably useful, as it would give it the ability to understand, predict, and pre-empt the customer’s purpose in calling, allowing it to provide a quicker solution to their problem. Looking at the bigger picture, these technologies pave the way for Chatbots that are ‘more human.’ This benefits organisations in two main ways: \t‘More human’ Chatbots are better able to understand human conversation, ensuring they provide more accurate responses - improving their chances of offering a satisfactory response and resolving the enquiry without the need for agent intervention. \t‘More human’ Chatbots hold better conversations and are more versatile. Chatbots are designed to automate customer enquiries through a conversational format, so their ability to understand and participate in the conversation is intrinsic to their success. A more natural conversational flow is both more engaging and more effective. find out about our Chatbot service A Little Language Learning We live in a globalised world, in which businesses operate across borders, through different currencies, and in various languages. Consequently, emerging customer service technologies need to reflect this reality. Though 2021 was the year in which we witnessed an explosion in the popularity of polyglot Chatbots, this will be the year that multilingual machines take over customer service provision. Coupled with NLP technologies, the multi-lingual approach is astoundingly powerful. Not only does fluency in numerous languages enhance the machines’ ability to learn the specific characteristics and contexts of individual words, but it also allows organisations to centralise and concentrate their customer service provision into fewer applications and technologies. A Growing Market Means More Choice – But Quality Still Rules Now established as a powerful customer service tool and a popular choice amongst forward-thinking organisations across both the public and private sectors, Chatbots will spend much of 2022 consolidating their position as a leading AI technology. This will involve rapid expansion of the Chatbot market and the introduction of new businesses aiming their 'Bots at one of two extremes – the low end or the high end of the market. The proliferation of free Chatbot developers has shaken up the sector and some businesses have opted for low-cost over long-term quality by investing in these lower-end options. https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/chatbot-technology-in-2022-what-to-expect-3.jpgHowever, 2022 is likely to be defined by a growing awareness of the value of experienced professional support when it comes to factors such as Chatbot design, set-up, implementation, analysis, and evolution. The beating heart of Chatbot technology is AI – a technological discipline that’s advancing at a remarkable pace and that requires expertise to keep abreast of. While some organisations will be happy to go for an easy freebie Chatbot because all they’re looking for is a gimmick, those who believe in the potential of AI will aim to establish long-term professional partnerships with Chatbot specialists. In other words, a Chatbot is not just for Christmas, it’s a long-term investment that needs to be well-maintained if it’s to maximise its ROI. Analytics is All-Important In 2021, most organisations understand the importance of customer data. Whether they’re equipped to collect and utilise data is another matter altogether. Over the coming year, we believe Chatbots will become a vital component of many organisations’ data-processing capabilities. Chatbots are so brilliant at collecting valuable customer data because the data they’re processing - the conversational flow - is so rich with information. Traditional analytics have proven remarkably successful in predicting behaviour based on clicks and keyword searches. Backed by advanced AI, NLP and Sentiment Analysis, Chatbots are likely to push analytical abilities even further, giving you greater insight into what customers want, how they want it and when they want it. Social Media is Driving Greater Engagement In recent years, social media platforms have become one of the most important and influential customer service channels. In some ways, this has benefitted organisations. BrandWatch research shows that resolving customer enquiries via social media is up to 12 times cheaper than doing so over the phone. However, there are also complications. For instance, failure to respond to social media comments can lead to a 15% increase in churn rate (Gartner). https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/chatbot-technology-in-2022-what-to-expect-4.jpg With Chatbots being introduced to several key messaging and social media platforms (Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram, to name a few), we can expect to see an enormous increase in interactions over 2022. The tech is well suited to these platforms for several reasons: \tCustomers want to interact with brands via messaging services. Chatbots make this feasible and cost-effective \tChatbots minimise the issues many organisations have with social media-based customer service. Failure to promptly respond to enquiries can have a dramatic impact on customer satisfaction. Chatbots sidestep this problem by automating responses. \tChatbots mesh perfectly with social media’s preferred means of communication - text. We’re already WhatsApping, DMing and Facebook Messaging, so organisations don’t have to convince customers to alter their behaviour or try something new. A Move Beyond Customer Service As 'Bots become ever more powerful, they will begin to be utilised to fulfil functions outside of the purview of customer service departments. For instance, it’s likely we’ll soon see them employed in the context of IT helpdesks, as well as in intranet portals and Customer Relationship Management platforms. In 2022, we expect Chatbots to move from interacting exclusively with customers to being used internally to resolve relatively simple issues and provide guidance, too. Widespread Adoption by Local Government Throughout 2021, there has been a considerable increase in the number of local government bodies looking to introduce Chatbot technology into their customer service systems. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a pronounced effect on the demand for customer service automation technology, particularly as hard-pressed council contact centres look for ways to relieve the pressure on their staff. https://www.inform-comms.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/12/chatbot-technology-in-2022-what-to-expect-5.jpg While the implementation of Chatbot technology in the public sector poses certain challenges, it has already proven astoundingly successful. However, this success is dependent on understanding the local government environment and the specific set of circumstances that makes running a corporate contact centre different from a private sector call centre. At Inform, we have over 30 years of experience working side by side with local government contact centres. We understand the culture, the mission, and the challenges faced by those working for Local Authorities (LAs) and we’ve also been instrumental in helping the sector change over the last three decades. This puts us in the perfect position to partner with Local Authorities to successfully introduce the technology into their systems, driving down costs, whilst also improving services. View our Chatbot range, designed specifically for LAs What Next? There is no doubt that Chatbots will be one of the most exciting and valuable customer service technologies in 2022. In large part, this is because they act as a confluence where several developing technologies meet and interact. Chatbots take some of the world’s most innovative and exciting technological developments – AI, real-time, chat-based communication and language acquisition processes – and make use of them all. In doing so, they provide customer service departments with a powerful tool that cuts costs, automates increasingly complex tasks, and interacts with customers in a conversational manner. Our expert team have been providing customer self-service solutions for over 30 years. Call us on 01344 595800 or drop us a line to find out more.