How Chatbots Are Making Your Staff Lives Easier
By: Alexandra Mundlak
Chatbots all started in the mid 60s when we were introduced to Eliza which was the original chatbot that gave the illusion of understanding, but only mimicked human conversation without the structure for contextualizing events. Then, in the early 70s, Parry came to life and was considered to be a more advanced version of Eliza. It emulated a person with Paranoid Schizophrenia and personified a conversational strategy. In the late 80s, the Jabberwacky, a voice operated chat system came to be. It was meant to imitate natural, human conversation in an entertaining manner.
In the early 90s, Dr. Sbaitso, another voice operated system became popular. It took on the role of a psychologist when interacting with others. A.L.I.C.E., in the mid 90s, was also a voice operated chatbot as well and was able to have a human-like conversation.
Starting in the 2000s, we’re able to see the different, more recent, forms of chatbots, such as Smarterchild which was a precursor to Apple’s Siri and Samsung’s S voice, Google Now, which answers vocal questions, Amazon’s Alexa and Microsoft’s Cortana- although Cortana fell behind in 2015- which all respond to vocal commands as well, and finally our most recent version of the chatbot, the messenger one.
The modern chatbot
The modern chatbot we know of today came into play in 2016, and ever since, the use of them has only skyrocketed. Many businesses and hotels around the globe have been looking to link up with specific chatbot companies in order to benefit not only their guests, but their staff as well. While maintaining a healthy revenue stream and a constant competitive edge against so much competition, the use of the chatbot becomes extremely relevant.
Although one would think that the use of a chatbot would take away from the job of the person sitting behind the reception desk, it’s quite the opposite. The hospitality and tourism industries revolve around customer and guest satisfaction, and through the chatbot is the hotel able to help their guests reach ultimate contentment, which would then lead to higher success rates of the hotels themselves.
The chatbot service, in short, is “a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the internet.” The technology behind it emulates human conversation therefore making you feel as though you’re talking to a person sitting behind a computer rather than a robot.
The chatbot for hotels and its staff
The service allows for hotel staff to create proper guest profilings based off of the questions they ask which may eventually lead to personalized offers, suggestions, perhaps even rewards, and just getting to know and understand the user overall. Guests will then deem to be loyal to the hotel in specific and will continue visiting on future trips. Another benefit to hotels and their staff is that due to the fact that the other end of the device is not a human being could there be twenty-four hour concierge service, unlike in some small hotels in which there is either a time limited concierge service or none at all. This would lead to less of a stressful workload for the person sitting at the reception on a day to day basis. Through this, guests will attain instant answers at any moment of their stay – or even beforehand.
Since chatbots are made up of automated responses, this prevents hotels from dealing with putting customers on hold or having them push buttons to reach the department they’re trying to which leads to good reviews and guest contentment and utmost satisfaction. The automaticity of the service would increasingly reduce the time spent on picking up phones in order to answer questions as well as creating a decrease in the waste of human personnel when it comes to missed appointments or reservations since 67% of the questions asked by guests to concierges are extremely redundant. Chatbots make the lives of hotel personnel way easier, therefore making hotels look their very best.
Instantly through Messaging
Generally speaking, these chatbot services are through an already downloaded messaging app, such as Facebook Messenger, Kik, or WeChat, which is extremely convenient because they’re extremely easy to access since you don’t have to download another app and therefore don’t take up extra memory space. Since over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed, it is estimated that by the end of 2018, a total of 3.6 billion users will be using messaging apps which shows that chatbots are only going to be used more and more for hotels and other businesses.
From checking rates, availability, and booking hotel rooms ahead of time, to asking questions regarding the surrounding areas, and more specific queries about the hotel itself, the chatbot is predisposed to answer and satisfy all the user’s requests before, during, and after their stay therefore allowing hotel staff to devote their now free time to tougher, more critical tasks and difficult interactions that require attention, all while providing great customer care.
Additionally, at any given time, the person using the chatbot service is able to request to be transferred to a human agent for whatever reason. In a survey that included 5,000 users from six different countries, 33% of users rated a positive perception of chatbots, compared to the 19% of participants that rated a negative perception. The remaining 48% were indifferent as long as their issue was resolved.
Although we’re currently seeing enhancements in the hospitality and tourism industry because of chatbots and we’ll continue seeing many more improvements, it’s still very important to stay in touch with the ‘personal, human touch’, since even when talking to a chatbot, there are times when the user might just want to connect and communicate with a human being.
Looking into the future
This becomes relevant with the generations that come before that of the Millennials, since they aren’t used to using technology like the generations that follow. But, despite this matter, more and more people are adjusting to the technological advances that are surrounding us and will therefore conform to using chatbots for their benefit. On the other hand, it is predicted that by 2020 mostly Millennials will handle 85% of their engagement with businesses without ever interacting with another human being through the use of self service products such as chatbots. More specifically, 60% of that generation has already used a chatbot service and of those that have, 70% report positive experiences.
Of those that haven’t used chatbots yet, more than half say they would be interested in starting to use them.
The role of Artificial Intelligence
The more time goes by and the more we see advances in technology – more specifically in Artificial Intelligence and Natural Language Processing (NLP, the automatic manipulation of natural language) – the more we see hotels introducing chatbots for the reason that it benefits not only their guests, but themselves as well, and since the ultimate goal is exceeding guests’ satisfaction levels, the use of chatbots assist everyone and are here to stay according to 96% of businesses.
Chatbots will become a huge asset to the hospitality and tourism industries since technology is constantly redefining the service and therefore the field as a whole.
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