Twitter Releases Customer Service Study, Defends Against Chatbots

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It only takes a quick look at Facebook Messenger to realize that there are already a large number of businesses that have chatbots ready to respond to your needs, or a least take your order for pizza. Chatbots are a rapidly growing area of development at the moment and could be set to see huge growth over the next year. Twitter now wants to remind businesses about the benefits of its own platform, and has been sharing the results of a recent survey to show how effective it can be in encouraging customer spending and boosting customer satisfaction.

The Twitter survey, started last year in conjunction with Applied Marketing Science, initially focused on the airline industry in the US, before being extended to incorporate the telecoms and food industries. The survey concluded that when a customer tweets about a business and then receives a response from that business, they are then willing to spend between 3 percent and 20 percent extra from that business when they next make a purchase. That spending also tends to be at the higher end of the range if the response to their tweet initial is received quickly. The survey also noted that customers were more likely to then talk about the business online, and also recommend it to others.

Twitter is keen to remind businesses of the value of its platform in customer communications, at least partly because it will come under increasing threat from the use of chatbots. Of course businesses can use both platforms, but the financial benefits of the automation provided by chatbots are likely to become increasingly tempting to businesses, even if the response to a customer is less personal and less likely to generate the same level of customer loyalty.

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Chatbots are becoming more prevalent on the back of ongoing improvements in AI technology, allowing for a natural conversation. Many of the chatbots available at the moment are still very limited in the interactions that are possible, but they do provide a customer with the means to get an immediate response to a much wider variety of questions or concerns that an app or website could easily provide. The other main advantage is that in theory they require less jumping between apps. If you're already within a messaging app, you can engage with a chatbot without leaving your existing conversation.

Chatbots aren't particularly visible yet. If you didn't know they existed it could be easy to miss them. But that's likely to change as they improve, as companies start to rely on them more, and as the various messaging apps continue to compete for users. Twitter has a fight on its hands, but still provides a level of personal interaction that, at least for now, chatbots can't match.

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Writer, photographer and gadget fan since the Commodore 64, Psion organizers and earliest cell phones. Born on the south coast of England with Scottish blood, I moved to Paris, then New York. A fan of Nexus phones, a good sci-fi epic, street photography and small soccer team called Raith Rovers. Quietly optimistic and full of ideas.

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