Like most forms of automation, chatbots have the potential to be superfluous or to provide immense and significant efficiencies. The past two years have demonstrated the pitfalls and embarrassments that accompany using chatbots as a novelty rather than a targeted, productive form of automation. The past year has demonstrated the potential savings and customer service advantages of using chatbots for targeted, narrow purposes.
The chatbots of the future will certainly get smarter, but it’s unlikely that multi-purpose chatbots designed to carry on conversations as humans do on myriad topics will emerge again for quite some time.
Based on the NewtonX executive survey, these are the biggest trends for enterprise chatbots in late 2018 and 2019.
1. Messaging is King: Business Functions Will Move Away From Apps/Web Into Messaging
The proliferation of apps in recent years has caused many users to get app fatigue — which is why messaging services including iMessage (Apple Business Chat), FB Messenger, and WeChat have integrated with businesses to allow mobile-friendly interactions between users and brands without making downloading an app a necessity.
China’s WeChat is already much more than a messaging platform: it’s also a payment solution, a news feed, a social media platform, and even an HR tool for enterprises. Businesses can integrate with WeChat for myriad functions, and in China, most do. Apple and Facebook have taken notice of the “Super App” trend in China, and followed suit, with Facebook releasing a bots and payments solution and Apple releasing Apple Business Chat.
Leaders in the chatbots space who participated in the NewtonX survey indicated that consumers will increasingly want to minimize the number of enterprise apps they keep on their phone, and will instead turn to messaging services for interactions with companies.
2. Disclosure Is Necessary: Customers Need to Know if They’re Speaking With a Bot
Recently California passed a law that will require companies to disclose whether customers are speaking with a human or a bot. While the law was written with the express intent of targeting deceptive political bots, it has significant implications for companies as well. For instance, many companies will have bots sign off as the agent they represent in order to make the transition between bot and agent more seamless. This law, however, will prevent companies from sending automated messages on behalf of employees without revealing that it is an automated message.
It’s likely that other states will follow California’s lead, particularly around election season. This means that chatbots won’t be intended to fool customers into thinking they’re chatting with a human; rather, they’ll be a convenient path to finding products, receiving basic customer service help, and getting onboarded.
The Enterprise Chatbots of 2018: Useful, Narrow, and Integrated
Enterprise chatbots today are highly useful for building scalable, mobile/tablet friendly user experiences. They’re not human replacements, rather human appendages, that can be used to guide users down certain paths and customer journeys. If employed correctly, 2018 enterprise chatbots can make user experiences more efficient and intuitive.
The insights and data used in this article were collected from 1,000 top executives at Fortune 1,000 companies. To learn more about NewtonX C-Suite Enterprise Surveys, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.