Customer satisfaction, improved user knowledge or medical reassurance are just some of the outcomes that companies or providers are keen to see from their chatbots and AIs. Now into their second decade of operation, the latest results show just how bots can improve customer awareness or confidence, whatever the bot’s aim or the market.

Even as chatbot and AI service adoption continue to grow, there are still plenty of businesses sat on the fence waiting to see some magic number before launching their own project to deliver bots.

The direct benefits of time savings and business efficiency/improved staff focus have been demonstrated time and time again, but what about the end-user benefit? There is already plenty of data across most verticals and markets highlighting where bots can fit into the business, but the focus on the needs of the are thinner on the ground.

New data shows just how a bot can help improve a situation when it comes to helping satisfaction or understanding. Kudos to Buoy Health with the first bot stats of the 2020s, showing how their medical bot platform helped patients as a first line of triage, according to their research:

“Researchers found that the rate of uncertainty among patients about their health concerns decreased from 34% to 21% after using the technology. Overall, 32% of users reduced the urgency of their intended level of care, 65% reported that the urgency of their care remained the same and 4% increased the urgency of care. Reproductive health was the top reason that patients used the service (18%), followed by general (17%) and gastrointestinal (15%) conditions.”

The key takeaways there are:

  • People prefer to talk to a bot about sensitive issues or to seek reassurance.
  • Most are happy with the feedback they get from a bot and are prepared to take the appropriate level of action.
  • If almost a third of the 150,000 sample reduced their planned level of care after reassurance from the bot, imagine the savings for patient care across the whole health market if bots were common across all GP services.

If customers are that trusting of a medical bot, their belief in AI-powered customer support for banking, services and other areas should be somewhat higher. That’s why the likes of Vodafone witnessed a 68% improvement in customer satisfaction with their TOBi chatbot powered by machine learning.

AI and emotion in the end-user sphere

Good results from a bot or AI service will result in greater engagement and likely word of mouth as people share their stories. Naturally, customers are more invested in their health than some other areas of life, but from banking to marketing, the rise of bots and AI will play a key in guiding the conversation to a successful outcome.

For example, when it comes to marketing personalization, research firm Gartner reckons that by 2024, artificial intelligence will be used to identify emotions that will influence over 50% of online adverts that people see. Happier customers are likely to see more cheery adverts, improving the chance of a sale.

Link those adverts to bot engagements and the AI can validate if its senses were correct, through use of language, smart home device listening in or web camera monitoring of the user and other methods. As AIs get better at detecting emotions they can be used in the $2.5 billion dating market to help guide dating choices

The rise of trust in AI

As with any emerging field, there will be mistakes and errors from the AI side. If one person doesn’t go to the doctor because a bot told them they had a cold, which turns out to be something much worse, there will be a tabloid field day, but most technology-led businesses are already used to these dramas.

As with the rise of smart self-driving cars, the actual errors made by an AI are small compared to the general driving population, but make for more salacious headlines. People will still need to take responsibility for their actions, like being aware at the wheel when not driving or feeling worse, even though “the bot said…” and accepting responsibility for their actions.

And with the better accuracy of AI over human experience in some fields, like the latest DeepMind AI that can spot cancer as well as a medical professional, reducing false positives and negatives. “Compared to human experts, the system saw a reduction in false positives by 5.7% in the US and 1.2% in the UK, and in false negatives of 9.4% in the US and 2.7% in the UK.”, trust in bots will continue to grow.

Overall, stats show trust in AI is on the rise, with even the workforce preferring to trust their bots (64%) over human managers. Once the general population is trusting of their AIs, then businesses will be more confident in deploying advanced services or going all-in on AI to reduce the reliance on traditional support or customer services.

The business too must have trust in their AI tools. Racing to launch a quick-and-dirty solution for a quick win to appease the boss or match a rival’s efforts will result in a bot or AI effort doomed to failure and leaving a trail of negative end-user reaction and loss of trust and other sentiments.

Any bot, even one matching current support tools, needs to be well thought out, aligned to business and end-user needs. It needs to be well tested and flexible enough to deliver what customers expect from a modern service. There should be a feature to link to other support mechanisms if the bot cannot cope and plenty of feedback points to provide the business with data and pointers on how to improve the service over time.

Whatever the project or market, bots are changing how businesses operate and what customers expect from them. And the market is moving rapidly on, to virtual assistants, avatars, in-store or branch robots, all moving customers toward that automated future.