Healthcare Chatbot: Improving Telemedicine & Enhancing Patient Communication

The healthcare industry is constantly evolving to meet its customers’ needs. A noteworthy trend that is emerging is the use of chatbots. These computer programs, which use artificial intelligence to automate customer service, make it easier for medical providers and patients to communicate.

Chatbots in healthcare are gaining traction, and research suggests that by 2032, the global market for healthcare chatbots will be worth $944.65 billion. The increase in internet penetration, smart device adoption, and the demand for remote medical assistance drive this market forward.

healthcare chatbot market size

In this article, we’ll cover the three main types of healthcare chatbots, how they are used, their advantages and disadvantages, and which one is right for your organization.

BEST CHATBOT DEVELOPMENT TRENDS AND BUSINESS APPLICATIONS

Primary Categories of Medical Chatbots

Chatbots can be broadly divided into three main categories: clinical support, decision support, and healthcare. Let’s take a closer look at each one.

  • Decision-support chatbots provide medical advice based on the data collected from the patient. They can be used to remind patients of drug interactions, suggested doses, and so on.
  • Clinical support chatbots are developed to offer professional medical advice to doctors, helping them make more accurate diagnoses and treatment plans.
  • Healthcare-focused chatbots are used to promote communication between health providers and patients. These chatbots are commonly employed in healthcare to respond quickly to common queries and provide general medical advice.

How Exactly are AI Chatbots being used in Healthcare?

Chatbots, powered by artificial intelligence, are used in various ways to improve the patient experience and simplify medical procedures. To get a better handle on the application of AI bots in healthcare, check out these examples: 

  • Appointment Booking: 

Chatbots can be integrated with online booking systems, making it a cinch for patients to set up or change visits with their medics. 

  • Virtual Health Guides: 

Chatbots use natural language processing (NLP) to comprehend and answer patient queries. For example, they can give information on common medical conditions and symptoms and even link to electronic health records so people can access their health information.

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  • Clinical Studies: 

AI chatbots can assess patients for clinical trial eligibility and supply information about ongoing trials, accelerating the process of enrolling participants and collecting data.

  • Prescription Refills:

Chatbots make it quicker than ever to get refills on prescriptions – no more waiting around.

Chatbots specially designed for mental health are invaluable for those struggling with depression, anxiety, and other issues. They provide a secure outlet for communication and lessen feelings of loneliness.

  • Remote Monitoring:

Thanks to AI chatbot healthcare, remote patient health status monitoring is easier than ever. In addition, wearable devices can now supply data to healthcare providers to keep tabs on potential problems.

HOW MENTAL HEALTH CHATBOTS HANDLE STRESS?


It’s important to note that chatbots are never meant to supplant healthcare professionals – they make their jobs more straightforward and accessible to patients.

 

The Role of Intelligent Chatbots in Healthcare [2023 New Applications]

Health organizations are increasingly turning to chatbots, and this tendency will continue to gain momentum in 2023 and beyond. Some of the novel and creative approaches include the following:

Making a splash in the world of telemedicine is one of the most promising areas of application. Healthcare chatbots provide patients with virtual medical consultations and advice so they can avoid leaving the coziness of their homes to get professional assistance.

Chatbots can also be handy in managing and administering medication. These bots can remind patients to take their meds, give info regarding drug interactions, and alert them if there are any issues with their treatment.

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Medical data analysis is another area where chatbots can prove useful. AI bots assist physicians in quickly processing vast amounts of patient data, enabling healthcare workers to acquire info about potential health issues and receive personalized care plans.

healthcare chatbot for routine diagnostic tasks

A healthcare chatbot can link patients and trials according to their health data and demographics, boosting clinical trial participation and accelerating research.

Chatbots can manage mundane tasks like scheduling appointments and providing simple answers about treatments and insurance.

The medical chatbot can assist as an interpreter for non-English speaking patients. The bot can then interpret during consultations and appointments, eliminating language issues.

AI chatbots are also being used to uphold and teach people about their well-being. It will give advice on healthy eating, offer lifestyle modifications, and remind them of other important activities.

Suicides are a growing epidemic, so let’s tackle it head-on with technology. We can design an app and chatbot with mental health resources that deliver tailored Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. AI tech can help those in need by reminding them of appointments, offering tips for treatment, and providing invaluable assistance in tackling their mental health issues.

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The Pros and Cons of Healthcare Chatbots

There are benefits and drawbacks to using chatbots in medicine, just as with any new technology. So why don’t we briefly talk about some of them below?

According to Statista, by 2022, the market size of customer service from artificial intelligence chatbots in China will amount to around 7.1 billion Yuan. AI can be a real “plus” for the healthcare industry too. 

ai market

Some of the many rewards it offers include:

Chatbots can help the health sector save an estimated $11 billion annually! Automating some tasks and quickly responding to basic questions result in reduced medical service expenses and free up doctors to tackle more complex issues.

Chatbots can be used to streamline and make healthcare services more efficient.

In addition to saving money, medical bots can offer faster access to healthcare services. According to a survey, 78% of people prefer using bots for medical services. 

AI-powered chatbots are able to provide comprehensive support and advice to patients and follow-up services.

Harnessing AI capabilities, chatbots can provide thorough aid and counsel to patients, as well as follow-up consultations and treatments.

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advantages of ai chatbots in healthcare

A further benefit of a medical chatbot is that it can furnish individualized healthcare services, guidance, and assistance to patients. Utilizing the power of AI, these chatbots can provide every patient with personalized advice and reminders tailored to their requirements.

On the opposite side of the coin, there are a few obstacles to consider when contemplating the development of healthcare chatbots. Let’s take a gander at the downsides. 

Putting together an AI that can handle delicate medical information can be pretty intricate and take longer than expected.

One major disadvantage is that, for the time being, chatbots cannot deliver thorough medical counsel. Thus, these should be employed in conjunction with the direction of certified medical experts and not as a substitution.

Also, ethical and security problems may appear when bots access patient records. Some chatbots may not include the necessary safety measures to securely store and process confidential patient data, thereby risking patient privacy. Health services that employ a chatbot for medical reasons must take precautions to prevent data breaches.

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The stellar performance of healthcare chatbots is only as good as the info they’re fed. Feed them incorrect details, and their misdiagnoses or shady treatments flummox you. To ensure accurate results, keep patient data up-to-date and current!

cloud computing for ai chatbots

Chatbots may not be able to provide the full scope of mental health support, so healthcare organizations must pair them with dedicated medical professionals for comprehensive aid.

How to Choose an AI Chatbot for Your Healthcare Organization

When choosing an AI chatbot for your healthcare organization, there are several factors to consider.

  • Type

The first step in developing a healthcare chatbot is determining its purpose. Specifically, do you need one that can help you make decisions and support you clinically or one that focuses on providing general medical guidance to patients?

  • Features┬á

Think about what the chatbot can do and what features it has. Askings questions like “can I get specific recommendations and reminders from the chatbot?” “Can patient information be safely stored and processed?” can help you make the right choice.

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  • Costs

Also, take into account the cost of the chatbot. They can be expensive, so you should consider the price and make sure it fits your budget.

Costs of implementing a healthcare chatbot
  • Security

Pay close attention to the chatbot’s security settings and how to protect patient data is essential. Ensure that it has the right security measures to keep sensitive patient information from getting into the wrong hands.

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN HEALTHCARE?

Chatbots and Their Place in Healthcare

Chatbots could help improve health care by providing information, answering patients’ questions, and helping to sort out symptoms. A chatbot can tell you about general health or how to deal with a certain condition, for example. They also help healthcare providers by answering patients’ frequently asked questions and directing them to the right care. 

Healthcare facilities must use chatbots in a responsible and protected manner. They can’t replace doctors and nurses, so that’s something to remember. For the best results in patient care, hospitals, clinics, and other organizations should integrate bots with medical professionals and psychologists.

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Outcomes

Healthcare chatbots have the potential to revolutionize the health industry. They are a powerful and cost-effective way to provide medical advice and support to patients and health providers. They also provide personalized advice and reminders tailored to the individual patient’s needs.  

Technology is still in its early stages, and chatbots still need to be built, tested, and regulated based on their usage in medical care. It is important, though, that healthcare organizations use these bots safely and responsibly. Nevertheless, we are excited about the future!

Do you need a team of specialists who will work with you to create a healthcare chatbot for your app and protect against cyberattacks?

The APP Solutions is a leading healthcare technology company that creates innovative products to improve patient outcomes and streamline healthcare processes. Our talented developers and designers work hard to give our clients the most advanced, secure, and effective solutions to improve patient outcomes and streamline healthcare processes. 

We have a proven track record of delivering high-quality, user-friendly, and scalable healthcare technology solutions. Our expertise includes developing electronic health records (EHR) systems, telemedicine platforms, patient portals, and chatbots for mobile health, among other things. Our solutions are designed to comply fully with HIPAA and HITECH. Contact us today, and you will be glad you did.



How Mental Health Chatbots handle stress?

The rapid development of natural language processing and conversational interfaces has enabled a more progressive way of dealing with mental health problems, stress management, and psychological relief. 

It’s a big deal. According to the World Health Organization research, more than 300 million people are suffering from depression alone, not to mention other types of mental issues. Just a couple of months ago burnout was officially recognized as a medical condition. And this kind of thing is almost inevitable among professionals of any field. 

According to a Scientific American study, the economic cost of depression in the United States accounts for hundreds of billions of losses per year.

And while the need for mental health services is getting higher, its availability is unable to catch up. In this environment, the traditional means of psychological relief and stress management aren’t efficient enough. 

If you want to make Mental Health Chatbot, this article is right for you. In this article, we will look at: 

  • What mental health chatbots are?
  • How do mental health chatbots work?
  • Four major mental health chatbot applications and their business models;

What are mental health chatbots? 

A mental health chatbot is a type of a conversational interface application designed to: 

  • Have a conversation with the patient regarding his mental wellbeing; 
  • Provide instant 24/7 available chat;
  • Deliver detached statistics for the patient to self-regulate his mental state; 
  • Give users basic recommendations on how to improve a patient’s mental wellbeing; 

The primary goal of a mental health chatbot is: 

  • to help patients to manage and understand their mental states on their own as much as possible; 
  • connect with mental health professionals upon necessity. 

Mental health chatbots originate from the very beginnings of natural language processing conversational interfaces – ELIZA

Joseph Weizenbaum developed this chatbot in 1964-1966. Originally, ELIZA was proof of the concept “to demonstrate the superficiality of communication between humans and machines.” However, ELIZA quickly proved itself to be more than that. 

As it turned out, ELIZA was good at talking with people. At its core, ELIZA had mere pattern matching and substitution scripts that gave the illusion of machine understanding of the user’s input message. 

One of its scripts, titled DOCTOR, imitated a classic person-centered psychotherapy session blueprint. It wasn’t anything sophisticated – just a couple of template phrases, but it worked incredibly well. 

Despite its simplistic design, ELIZA was engaging enough to let people speak out about their problems (which is the simplest model of providing psychological relief). This laid the groundwork for future healthcare chatbots.

These days, mental health chatbots are not just a couple of template phrases that imitate language understanding. 

Modern mental health chatbots integrate into the healthcare system and involve certified medical professionals. These chatbots automate specific processes and also streamline the interaction between the patient/user and mental health professionals. 

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How do Mental Health Chatbots work?

Mental health chatbots are designed to maintain a conversation, not to lead it. In a way, using a mental health chatbot resembles practicing tennis against a wall. 

The general functional framework of mental health chatbots is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy methodology. CBT is a form of talking therapy designed to manage mental health states by rearranging the way the patient perceives it, i.e., making negative thoughts positive.

The list of chatbot features revolves around: 

  • Kickstarting a topic for conversation, 
  • asking directional questions, 
  • providing follow-ups to expand responses. 

The NLP algorithm, with Sentiment Analysis features, handles the flow of the conversation. It recognizes keywords and terms. Each trigger word has a decision tree. It is designed to gather as much information as possible and provide a viable resolution – either a simple conclusion, a piece of advice or contact professional help. 

The critical design component in mental health chatbots is the so-called empathetic engagement. 

In the context of a conversational interface, empathetic engagement means: 

  • making the impression of a credible and trustworthy conversation partner that can hear you out and offer a detached point of view on things.

Since the user is already aware of the artificial nature of the conversational interface, there is no need to bend over backward to imitate a full-blown human-human conversation. Instead, the chatbot needs to provide the necessary minimum credibility to enable the user’s suspension of disbelief. 

One of the biggest challenges of mental health chatbots is privacy and confidentiality. Since the entirety of user activity is related to personal matters and thus is sensitive information – it is necessary to address this issue.

The most effective solutions for this are:

  • End-to-end encryption of the user-bot interaction;
  • Making the user profile in the application database anonymous.  

Now let’s look at several major mental health chatbot applications and explain their inner workings.

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Major Mental Health Chatbot application overview

1 Moodkit & Moodnotes – paid app

Moodkit and Moodnotes are products of the company Thriveport. Both apps aim at managing the state of mental health. 

Both Moodkit and Moodnotes are traditional paid apps that charge $4.99 for an install, after which you get the full scope of features and customer support.

Moodkit was the first mental health app of the company. Launched in 2011, it is less of a chatbot and more of a mental health CRM. Moodkit was one of the trailblazers of mental health applications in the early 2010s. From a modern point of view, it is more of a proof of concept that was later perfected in Moodnotes.

Moodkit’s framework is specifically designed to engage users as much as possible to have control over their mental state and substantially improve it. In a way, Moodkit motivates the user to improve his mood and mental state with its handy tools.

The application itself consists of four tools:

  • Moodkit Activities – a tool that suggests what things to do to improve the user’s mood (for example, take a walk or talk to somebody);
  • Thought checker to manage negative feelings caused by a specific situation. It is used to identify and subsequently reiterate the thoughts into more positive ones;
  • Mood Tracker – designed to chart the permutations of the mood over the day, week, month, and so on;
  • Moodkit Journal – a kind of a notebook for a user to keep thoughts and comments on his mood and related events. 

Moodnotes is a kind of more sophisticated and elaborate version of Moodkit. The app was released in 2015, its framework is similar to Moodkit, but there is more thorough automation involved. Moodnotes applies Natural Language Processing and Sentiment Analysis to provide more profound and helpful insights into the user’s mental state. 

  • The user needs to describe his mood of the moment, rate it, and add some comments
  • Next, the app runs an NLP Sentiment Analysis algorithm that recognizes the polarity of the mood, and also its pattern, based on the available user activity.
  • After that, the application’s chatbot engages with the user in a conversation to determine the current thought pattern of the user
  • The questions are designed to reflect emotions and iterate them into more positive patterns

As a result, the bot provides some words of encouragement in a manner of “keep on keeping on.” It is very similar to how Grammarly engages with users to methodically fix texts.

2 Woebot – free app

At the time of writing this article, Woebot is one of the most prominent players in the field of mental health chatbots with over 100k downloads in GooglePlay alone. Founded back in 2017, it managed to take over the game by simply making the most efficient version of the product. In 2018, Woebot had managed to raise $8 million in series A funding. 

Woebot is a distillation of the best conversational interface solutions of the decade, streamlined and adapted for healthcare purposes. The other reason for its rising popularity is the fact that it is a free application. 

At its core, Woebot is a chatbot that keeps an eye on the mood of the user. It provides a platform for the user to speak out, contemplate, and reflect through meticulously designed conversation trees. 

Every once in a while the bot asks the user how he feels and how he’s doing. In response, the bot provides some handy advice or drops relevant contacts with mental health professionals if the situation is that dire. 

  • The NLP component provides a necessary level of personalization and spices up the conversation with a bit of humor
  • Sentiment Analysis is used to identify critical patterns in the user’s input and drive the conversation in a more positive direction

The continuous use of application accumulates its efficiency. There is daily check-in that provides the bot with the necessary information for analysis and, that in turn contributes to better healthcare advice in the future.

According to 2017 research by Stanford School of Medicine, throughout a two week test period, mental health chatbot users reported a decrease in anxiety and depression compared to a control group.

3 Wysa – free app with in-app purchases

Wysa is a kind of more ambitious spin on a mental health chatbot concept. Launched in 2015, Wysa is a result of a collaboration between Columbia and Cambridge universities (and also Touchkin, who did the development). 

Wysa markets itself as an “emotionally intelligent” chatbot to manage emotions and thoughts. The bot itself is built on a Facebook Messenger framework, compatible with IOs and Android so that it is available to as many people as possible.

One of Wysa’s key competitive advantages over other mental health chatbots is its scope. 

  • In addition to the standard Cognitive Behavioral Therapy method, which handles more casuals moods, Wysa applies Dialectical Behavior Therapy (something Woebot is currently working on)
  • It is a big deal because DBT aims at unhealthy, suicidal, and self-destructive behavior, and finds ways of getting out of such situations

The other Wysa innovation is the addition of meditation and yoga advice. While it is not everyone’s cup of tea, it might be a solution for some.

The rest of the framework is similar to Woebot. The user interacts with the bot, provides some information, and, based on that, the bot gives a custom response. There are daily check-ins and detailed stats. 

The other features that differentiate Wysa from the rest are in-app purchases. There is a subscription fee ($29.99 monthly) that enables a more personalized approach with a human operator.  

4 Sanvello – freemium app

Sanvello is a more glamorous variation of mental health chatbots. Developed by PacificaLabs in 2014, Sanvello (known initially as Pacifica) is more inclined to so-called “mindfulness” than straightforward “psychological relief” that is the core of CBT-based chatbots.

As such, Sanvellois a much broader tool that adds to mood tracking and management meditation and relaxation features.

Unlike the other bots on the list, Sanvello adds audio and video recognition tools to traditional text input. The use of image and voice machine learning algorithms helps to determine the state of the user and provide some relevant and helpful advice.  

The app’s features include: 

  • General mood tracking for everyday use
  • Human help feature for emergency cases
  • Coping tools to handle stressful situations
  • Progress assessment feature to see things from a long-term perspective

The other significant feature of Sanvello is the social element. Unlike other mental health apps, Sanvello connects users to share experiences and provide mutual support. While the quality of expertise of such help might be questionable, the concept itself is worth exploring. 

Sanvello’s business model is more in line with traditional mobile applications. There is a free version with a basic set of features, and a premium version with more tools and in-depth customization of service for a monthly ($8.99), yearly ($53.99), or lifetime ($199.99) fee.

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Mental Health Chatbot Development: Final Thoughts

Mental health is one of the healthcare fields that require cutting edge technologies to provide an effective and equally available service for anybody who needs it. 

The conversational interface seems to be a viable solution capable of handling basic needs for anxiety and depression management. Even if the ultimate benefit is encouraging people to speak out about their worries and relieve stress – that’s already a giant step forward.

In this article, we have looked at four different approaches to mental health chatbots.

Such chatbots can significantly contribute to the refinement of natural language processing and sentiment analysis algorithms. Interaction with humans and different case studies may drastically expand the scope of language models and their capabilities. 

What is even more important, in the long term perspective, this will help in further psychological research. 

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Best chatbot development trends and business applications

Predictions suggest that 80% of businesses will use chatbots by 2020. If you still haven’t integrated a chatbot to your business operations, you may be falling behind the competition. However, you have an opportunity to develop one in 2020. But before hiring chatbot development companies you need to be aware of the most popular chatbot trends for 2020. 

Below we have gathered industries that apply chatbots, benefits chatbots bring to business operations, and main trends to build a conversation interface for your business. 

Let’s start. 

Chatbot Overview: adoption across different industries 

Many industries currently apply chatbots however, the effectiveness of user interfaces varies from one industry to another. To find out whether a chatbot will suit your particular industry, check out the top industries profiting from chatbots:

Real estate

Every person who is looking for a house or apartment to buy has unique requirements. Real estate chatbots help businesses to gather customers’ needs for more personalized recommendations and validate leads, which helps sales managers spend less time answering questions. 

E-commerce

Apart from more personalized product recommendation chatbot usage, online retailers use chatbots to streamline the sales process. Now, chatbots help customers search for a product, place an order and pay for it, and even track the delivery of the order. 

Travel

Travel agencies use chatbots to help travelers to find the best trip, book a hotel, and even buy tickets. Besides this, chatbots are handy for providing travelers with local insights, weather forecasts and booking tables, and restaurants. 

Education 

Artificial Intelligence-powered chatbots perform as intelligent tutoring systems, providing a personalized learning environment for students. Chatbots analyze a student’s response and how well they learn new material. Moreover, an AI chatbot can teach students by sending them lecture material in the form of messages, like in a chat.

Related readings: 

HR and recruiting

In this industry, chatbots can automate each stage of communicating with a candidate. Recruitment agency chatbots can perform as advisors, automate the search for candidates, evaluate their skill set, and give feedback on whether or not a candidate qualifies for a particular job. 

Healthcare 

Healthcare chatbots help patients to book appointments, refill prescriptions, and remind patients to take medications on time. Moreover, more advanced chatbots can monitor a patient’s health periodically, make diagnoses, and give advice on treatment plans. 

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Finance

Adopted by banks, chatbots can provide the user with information on their current account balance, report on expenditures, calculate taxes, and make money transfers to other bank accounts. 

chatbot adoption across industries

Consider that there are different types of chatbots. Rule-based or scripted chatbots answer simple questions, and smart agents help the user solve particular tasks via voice commands.

Accenture chatbot statistics show that rule-based bots bring the most benefits for such industries as: 

  • Healthcare (64%), 
  • Telecommunications (59%)
  • Banking (50%)

At the same time, voice assistants are handy in:

  • Food (56%), 
  • Banking (44%), 
  • And retail (35%)

Chatbots are also handy in the following business areas:

  • Customer service (95%)
  • Sales and marketing (55%) 
  • Order processing (48%)

Business benefits from using a chatbot 

Many businesses that have adopted chatbots are already receiving advantages from this technology. But how exactly do chatbots improve business operations? Let’s find out. 

  • Reduce customer support costs by 30%. A vast amount of chatbots are used for customer service by answering simple questions. In this way, by 2020, 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent, helping businesses to cut costs by $8 billion.
  • Increase income by 40%. Research shows that customers who interact with brands via social media networks spend 20-40% more than average customers. In this way, to receive the same benefits, you can integrate a chatbot into the social media accounts of your company. 
  • Increase lead generation. Thanks to their proactive nature, chatbots can start communication with your clients, taking them through the sales funnel. Besides this, chatbots can event capture customer’s details, thus, generate more leads.  
  • Increase user retention rate. As you may know, some chatbots are powered by Artificial Intelligence and machine learning. Thus, they can learn from each interaction and remember a client’s preferences. Since customers receive more personalized product recommendations, they become loyal to your brand. 

Top 5 chatbot predictions for 2021

Now, let’s find out what the future holds for the chatbot industry. 

1. Voice recognition chatbot technology 

Voice recognition chatbots will become more widespread in 2020. Why? Because this year, Google and Amazon, recognized tech industry giants, continue driving the “smart speakers” market. For example, Amazon alone has sold 100 million devices with built-in voice assistant Alexa. Moreover, 110 million Americans use voice assistants at least once a month. This market trend shows us that voice-based chatbots, driven by tech industry leaders and voice-powered chatbot platforms, such as PullString, will become even more popular in 2020. 

voice assistant chatbots

2. Smarter Bots

Rule-based chatbots no longer satisfy the needs of modern business, especially in terms of personal recommendations and customer engagement. Thus, it is expected that most companies that want to automate processes, will choose AI-based chatbots over scripted ones. As well as this, the high adoption of AI-based chatbots is also expected in mass media and live news. In this way, readers will no longer search for relevant news but instead receive personalized news recommendations. 

how ai chatbot works

[AI chatbot working logic]

3. Banking and insurance chatbots 

Chatbots for the banking sphere allow delivering more personalized customer service. According to statistics, 43% of online banking users want to solve their issues via a chatbot. 

A great example is Erica, a Bank of America chatbot that handles customer queries, anticipates customer needs by applying predictive analysis, and guides clients through complicated banking procedures. 

[Erica, a Bank of America chatbot ]

As for the insurance sector, businesses will continue to adopt AI chatbots since they have proven their effectiveness. Chatbots help insurance companies to educate clients in various fields, including inspections, submissions, documentation claim adjustments, and update them on the status of their claims. 

4. Data analysis 

Chatbots are becoming, not only a new form of communication but also a sales channel. Moreover, AI chatbots are able to, not only provide users with more personalized and relevant results but also help in data mining and analytic activities. Thus, by analyzing customer data received from interaction with clients, businesses can get even more valuable insights. 

5. Chatbot call centers 

Chatbots are no longer only conversation interfaces. In the year 2020, chatbots are expected to be used for automated call centers. Call centers will use this technology to receive information about an issue, as well as personal details. Thus, based on the information received, chatbots can switch a customer to the most qualified human agent. In this way, chatbots reduce the waiting time and improve the quality of customer care. 

The future of chatbots

chatbot matket prediction

[US chatbot market prediction]

In 2021, the chatbot market is expected to grow as over 80% of businesses will adopt chatbots. AI chatbots help businesses across different industries to automate sales, marketing, and customer care. 

With the high adoption of voice assistants produced by Amazon and Google, in 2020, there will be even more which are voice-based. Furthermore,  chatbots that participate in the sales funnel will become the new source of valuable customer information for online businesses. Next year, it is also expected that chatbots for banking and insurance companies will become even more popular. 

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5 Challenges of Chatbots for Business and How to Overcome Them

Back in the day, chatbots were nothing more than a fancy toy. They were extremely limited and there was somewhat perverted pleasure in making them uncomfortably baffled by asking something way beyond their reach. All these “Sorry, but I don’t understand” were fun to read. However, with the addition of the Internet to the mix – things have changed. Numerous projects one-upped each other one after another.

Then machine learning was fully implemented and the truly majestic thing happened – chatbots became capable of maintaining more or less adequate conversations based on the expansive dictionary, context, and specifics of syntax. Sure, there is still an uncanny valley element in play, but no one really strives for make-believe anymore.

Because of such improvements chatbots quickly found and solidified their place in the market. Benefits of chatbots are easy to understand. Over time their involvement started to change the way the business is handled. They took over such mundane and overbearing things as casual customer support and turned it into powerful intelligence tools and it looks like people understand their benefits. Just check out this MarketingCharts.com data below:

Potential Benefits of Using Chatbots (per Consumer) via MarketingCharts

However, no matter how mighty and reaching chatbots are – they are just sets of ones and zeroes which need to be taken care off. And there is more than one challenge that comes in a way. They are rather big and they need to be taken seriously. If not – be prepared to utter “mistakes were made” while going through a door.

Here are some of the most common.

Message Interpreting

One of the biggest challenges with using chatbots in customer support comes with interpreting the messages and understanding the user intention. Programming flexible algorithms for interpreting the intention of the message is a top priority upon making a chatbot.

Unlike machines who know one and only possible way of saying things – people do it in a variety of ways. Some write short sentences. Some write long. Some write in colloquial, some write with bitter err’s. And customer doesn’t really care if that is inappropriate for the machine to understand and they will take no “sorry, I can’t stand it” for an answer.

There are several solutions. The simplest one is cautioning the user that he needs to express his cause in general terms so that it will ease the processing of the request. That works for some segment of the customers. But not everybody’s so generous. Because of that, there must be an algorithm to piece together the message from an existing customer’s request and compare it with possible variants based on context. You can go as far as setting up a separate reaction with chatbot doing the second guessing if the term is beyond the database or if there several possible variants.

Machine-to-human transition

There must be a switching algorithm for a seamless transition from chatbot to a human in certain instances. The solution is based on analyzing the nature of responses with predetermined patterned in order to decide whether or not human advice is needed. Sometimes it can go with direct asking “are satisfied with an answer?”

Personalization

When chatbot is capable of understanding the user and making more or less adequate replies – next logical step is to use gained context to your advantage. In terms of user experience, that means personalization. The simplest way is keeping user history intact. The bot must be able to save and access it according. That really helps to engage the user and keep him happy with the whole affair.

Personalization also eases the whole “you might also like” thing that often puzzles some. Based off already existing requests and tendencies among multiple users – the bot will be able to calculate more feasible offer to the user.

The challenge comes with calculating the most appropriate ways of adapting to the user. But it is solved solely through a series of tries and fails in every particular instance.

Chatbot style

Another thing that needs to be considered is the style of chatbot. The user doesn’t really like to deal with answering machine (which chatbot basically is). They want a little bit more affecting interaction. That means chatbots needs to have some attitude. It can go as far as selecting the gender of a bot. But the most common is selecting several manners of conversing – more formal, informal or flowery or excessively minimalist.

Data Gathering

Chatbots serve as a double-edged sword. On one side – they help users to sort out the causes. On the other – they provide you with vital information on the said user.

While this information is only a fracture of what you are gathering with Ad Tech toolset – it provides vital insights into audience behavior and preferences. And that is the thing you would like to take into consideration.

You need to see the big picture in order to assess the effectiveness of the chatbot. In order to do that it must be integrated into the management system with a certain set of metrics so that the incoming information will be sorted out and utilized. This also helps to understand what engages and what scares the audience in a particular episode. That helps to adjust the behavior of the bot and the manner of the replies. It also helps to expose weak points in the presentation of the products.

Natural Language Processing

Another big challenge that comes with customizing and adjusting chatbots behavior is understanding the limits of Natural Language Processing (NLP). While it is the backbone of any chatbot – if gone too far it may be as good as dreaming out an elephant in a gulp of a cloud looking exasperated upside down. In other words – it may end up being as incomprehensible as any cat-sitting-on-keyboard sessions. But that is an extreme example – it doesn’t really happen that way.

What happens is miscommunication. For example, you have a user request to explain how to perform registration on a website. If not programmed properly, chatbot can churn instead an incomprehensive set of commands based on keywords found in the coding that de-facto represent a reply to the bot but are essentially useless for a user. (Even though it is considered to be a legitimate literary style by some scholars.)

Such things are solved by studying most requested and frequently asked questions. Around this information sets of replies (AKA decision trees) are constructed. In order to make cohesive messages – linking sentences are composed. Note that this thing is perfected in the process on an incoming data thus every good chatbot is unique in its own way.

Machine learning is another solution but it needs a very defined set of rules in order to be effective. If not – it will be a mess. However, it makes the process of personalization much easier and significantly improves finding proper answers for user requests.

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In conclusion

Every mentioned challenge can be solved easily if the professional development team is involved and there is a strong feeling of trust between the project owner and the team. And people are talking more and more about the chatbots, just check out the Google Trends below. So it might be a good thing to think ahead and prepare for your business. 

Chatbots Popularity (According to Google Trends)

Chatbots became more than just gimmicky automated responders – they became valuable sources of information. In many ways, they helped to improve already existing methods of interaction with the customers.  On the other hand – they opened up whole new perspectives on a concept. It may be a Pandora’s Box in the end but at the moment it looks more than intriguing.

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Benefits of Using Chatbots for your Business

One of a trend that has shaped a previous year and definitely is going to influence the year 2017 is the increasing popularity of chatbots.
Chatbots is a program that simulates a real conversation with users by using artificial intelligence.

To understand this technology and find use cases that will fit your business and your customers` needs, let’s analyze the background that drives this trend.

Factors Influencing the Rise of Chatbots

  1. The exploding popularity of messaging apps is hard to deny. The GlobalWebIndex Statistics says that 75% of Internet users are adopters of one or few messengers. Also, take a look at the Business Insider statistics that shows how quickly growth the popularity of messengers:READ ALSO: HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO DEVELOP A MESSAGING APP LIKE WHATSAPP?
  2. The rise of artificial intelligence technologies brings chatbots to a new level. Together with natural language processing AI brings up to 90% the accuracy of machine parsing and understanding of requests. Another significant factor here is sophistication notifications that take into account the context of the situation and are always on across devices.
  3. The accelerated development of all kinds of sensors and wearables in addition to analytics and data science boosted the personalization of virtual communication and the capabilities of predictive assistance.
  4. Payment integration to third parties via APIs brings, even more, options to the chatbot functionality.

Adopting Chatbots for business

There is one interesting nuance you probably haven’t ever realized. In-app stores, you can find millions of different apps available. However, Forrester Research shows us, that users use about 24 apps per month wherein 80 percent of the time is on just five apps. Without any doubt among them are Facebook, WhatsApp, and Snapchat. That means that you hardly can shoot ahead with a new app for your business, but you still have high chances to integrate your chatbot into one of the platforms from your user’s everyday routine.

Of course, bots have not appeared just now, but at the Annual F8 Conference in April 2016 Facebook has announced its platform. That gave a massive impulse for the implementation of this technology for business needs.

Chatbot app development has all chances to be one of the hottest trends and a new challenge for companies and software vendors.

When Building a Chatbot Makes Sense

  1. You receive many requests that are similar to each other
    For every business, there is always a set of typical questions that your employees have to answer over and over again. You can gather all these matters in the FAQ form on the website or Facebook page, or you can create a chatbot for that. Also, chatbots are essential when customers need to get a consultation ASAP.
  2. Products you sell are low involvement
    Low involvement goods and services mean that the clients do not spend much time making a decision to buy or not to buy. Emotions dictate such purchases, and I bet you do not want to miss such a customer`s impulse by not providing info in time. By one single request bots immediately understand what the customer wants and offer it without human interaction.
  3. Your customers need information that is easy to provide
    Everything is simple. The more you can give to your client conditionally for free, the more loyalty you get. That is how your chatbot actually can become another channel of winning sympathy. From another hand, by providing info automatically also you save some money for human recourses. Also, take note that this information can be easily personalized.
  4. You work in a highly competitive niche
    Working in a field where products, services, and prices for them are mostly the same, it is hard to compete. Most likely that your customer will choose the vendor that requires spending fewer efforts to get a product. Moreover, again your chatbot is a winning strategy! First of all, your customer will get information regardless of the day of the week, time, holiday, etc. Secondly, no one likes to speak by phone nowadays.

5 Inspiring Chatbot Use Cases

Chatbots change the form of communication between the brand and the consumer. Of course, some of them will stay with us longer, and others are going to evolve further. Anyway, there is no doubt that both users and brands can get benefits from this technology. We have gathered five inspiring chatbot use cases.

1. Shopping

The percentage of consumers who prefer to buy online is inexorably increasing every year. Today this number tends up to 45%. At the same moment, there is another curious fact. 64% of consumers search online before making a purchase, which means that even those who prefer offline shopping spend some time looking online before this.

That is why chatbots can become one of the most important channels for your retail business. As it is written above, this model will better work for the products with little involvement like clothes or accessories. Furthermore, the chatbot helps you to ensure your customer with a personalized experience.

A good example of a retail chatbot is Shop Spring. You do not need to chat with it, only to pick up some answers from the list of questions to narrow down the options for the final choice. The main advantage of the bot before the marketplace is that it minimizes the number of actions and clicks that the user needs to do.

2. Payments

With the help of a chatbot, you can not only choose the product or service but also and buy it. At the TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2016, the Head of Messenger David Marcus has announced that bots are going to accept payments. So indeed, from late September 2016, Facebook Messenger users can not only initiate orders but complete them through payment systems like Visa, MasterCard, American Express, PayPal, Stripe, and Braintree.

Of course, every financial operation requires a high level of privacy and security. At The App Solutions, we do know all actual threats and provide reliable fraud protection.

3. Restaurants & Delivery

The main point of any fast food is quick. Your chatbot here will win on all counts. It`s always online and ready to take an order in a few steps. A good example is Pizza Hut. “We are committed to our servicing our customers in the most convenient way and meeting them in the channels they already prefer,” said Baron Concors, Pizza Hut’s Chief Digital Officer.

Another great example is Domino. The system is more sophisticated. After the sign-up, the system saves contacts and a so-called favorite basket that the user can request later. This bot also has an excellent sense of humor ­čÖé

4. Healthcare

Same as in the financial sphere, any healthcare or hospital app requires a high level of security standards. The confidentiality of patient`s private data and HIPAA compliance are crucial.

Healthcare chatbot patients can book an appointment with doctors, pay invoices for services, store and track all payments and medical care. Also, such a chatbot can perform as an instrument of patient education. Such a strategy helps healthcare providers to build stable and value-rich relations.

A great example of a medical bot is a HealthTap that instantly connects users to doctors. The database of medical staff includes 100,000 physicians from over 140 specialties.

5. Customer Support

Customer support and technical assistance are quite a resource-consuming part of any business. This process can also be improved with the help of chatbots. Once you analyze incoming requests, you will see that most of them are identical.

By creating a chatbot for business, you can automate repetitive requests. Your customer will appreciate the direct communication that avoids holding on the line and talking to strangers from support service.

Takeaway

Chatbots are a powerful tool for brand-to-customer communication that also helps to reduce costs and resources. The reason for such exploding popularity is the rise of mobile messengers and extension technology of artificial intelligence.

Vendors and retailers need to rethink their communication strategies to strengthen their presence in the channels where their customers prefer to be. For now, it is messenger apps.