You must have encountered chatbots in your daily life while surfing various websites. It’s increasingly common to see companies deploy chatbots for basic chat with customers. Chatbots are being installed by big companies into their sites to have a better degree of customer engagement and faster issue resolution.
In China, there is even a friend bot called Xiaoice (built by Microsoft) which regularly talks to more than 4 million people like a human friend. But can a chatbot be used for a search engine? If yes then how can it be deployed efficiently to bolster the overall searching experience for a user?
First, some background on how search met chatbot
From May 2017 Bing has started using chatbots in its search in a limited area of Seattle. The idea was that in a traditional search, a user is provided with too much information and he wastes a lot of time sifting through it. So Microsoft built a Bing bot which can interact with the user on the search page itself and provide him more precise information he is seeking. This not only enhances the accuracy of search results but also offers a highly satisfying search engine usage experience to the user.
For example, if you want to order a jacket from a local shop but want it to be black, two button style, and in worsted wool material, you can connect with the Bing bot to chat with the shop owner and inform him of your requirements.
What does this move mean for search engine users?
In the future, chatbots integration with search engine has the potential to unlock various opportunities hitherto unavailable with the traditional search engine results page. It holds tremendous opportunities for companies to increase their business and enhance consumers’ goodwill towards them. Some of them are:
- Users can book a test drive without leaving the search page.
- They can order services and products from the search results directly.
- Engage with customer services and avoid the horribly long waiting periods of customer services through phones.
- They can check on basic queries like availability of sugar-free cookies in a nearby bake shop
The possibilities, it seems, are endless for both companies and users and many experts believe it can drastically cut a company’s spend on customer care.
What does this move mean for businesses?
While most experts believe chatbots are here to stay in the medium to long-term, there is some doubt regarding investing in it for the short term. As the technology is very new, investment in it can prove to be exorbitant. Also, brands will have to initially invest heavily on better data infrastructure, better reporting mechanisms, and higher number of customer service centres. Getting to a point where brands can leverage the technology efficiently will be a huge challenge especially when the integration is in its nascent stage.
The bottom line
If chatbots in searches go mainstream in the future, it would be essential for companies to have internal teams which can assist in providing the required resources. Right now it seems that investing in it in the early stages would not give the required results, but adopting it early can give a company a lot of advantages when the integration sees global adoption and customer patronage for the servicing innovation it provides on the search results page.