Will Bots Replace the Human Customer Support Role

Will Bots Really Replace the Human Customer Support Role?

Perhaps it took longer than expected, but the rise of the machines is now at hand. Artificial intelligence is fast becoming more advanced and is now being used in a host of applications. It’s changing the technological landscape as we know it, bringing us closer to Cyberdyne System’s Skynet computer.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves, folks. We’re currently working on and perfecting AI functions that can help us humans do simple, labor-intensive ‘narrow’ tasks across different industries. A neural network controlled by a sentient AI computer is still far from reality, but with the way things are going, it’s not impossible.

Will Bots Replace the Human Customer Support Role

The progress we’ve been making in the field of artificial intelligence has been no less impressive. Machines can now perform predictive analysis, deductive reasoning and natural language understanding, which are all needed in understanding and predicting what the user needs or maybe offer recommendations for the next action.

Now that we’re taking the development of AI in the right direction, it is found to have good use in the field of customer service. Chatbots are now all the rage in the tech world, simulating conversations with people to address their questions or perform simple tasks. These bots are now booming not only in text conversations but in verbal exchanges as well. Yes, we’re looking at you, Alexa.

 

AI’s Role in Customer Support

Businesses need a fast and efficient customer support service to address all their customers’ concerns. This helps them forge good relationships, making it an essential factor in running a successful business. And with chatbots now taking the place of humans in online conversations, they are revolutionizing the customer service industry.

Chatbots automate conversations with real humans by delivering the right responses according to how they are programmed to do so. With language processing now an integral part of AI, conversations are more seamless, as if you’re having one with a real human being. Advancements are set to further make it harder to discern if you’re chatting with a person or perhaps Threepio.

Many companies embrace a chatbot’s functions as a means to complement or even reduce the need for call centers. As human-to-human chat conversations become a thing of the past, this will significantly reduce operating costs.

For now, chatbots are used to collect basic information, with the more advanced versions providing resolutions for increasingly more complex issues. This speeds up response times and frees agents for more challenging work that requires a more advanced brain. Yes, the one responsible for creating chatbots in the first place.

 

Why Bots are Here to Stay

The bots we’ve read about or seen in fiction were made to serve humans, and their purpose hasn’t changed one bit in real life. Now that AI-driven chatbots are being extensively used in the field of customer support to perform repetitive and simple tasks, they are proving to be invaluable.

Despite being relatively basic, bots can help relieve humans of the grunt work, which can streamline any process and make things move along faster and a bit easier. This saves loads of time and money for the company during the technical support process. Here’s how it works:

 

  • Process Efficiency

When calls come in, human agents go through the motions of collecting information from the concerned customer before they proceed to address the issue. AI-driven bots can streamline this step and cut the time it takes to complete this task, so a human agent can resolve the issue at hand. Although support ticket qualification is a fairly simple task, automating it can result in huge time savings.

 

  • Cost Efficiency

When processing time is lessened to a considerable degree, more calls can be processed within the day. This significantly decreases the operational cost by taking in more customers who need help in a single day. When AI becomes more advanced, pretty soon there will be more stages in the operation that can be taken over by bots. This will allow humans to focus on more difficult tasks and become even more cost-efficient.

 

  • Better Customer Experience

Once the process is streamlined to a point where your service addresses all customer concerns in a reasonable period of time, you will leave them feeling satisfied with the whole interaction. The bots help make the process faster, and the human touch becomes more focused on a customer’s needs. All this leads to a better customer experience, creating a competitive advantage for your brand.

 

  • Timeliness

Machines are all about speed and precision. They help cut work time to achieve results faster, which is the reason why AI-driven bots are increasingly becoming popular. Additionally, the risk of human error is basically non-existent. So, when it comes to menial tasks, bots are faster and more accurate – it really isn’t much of a competition.

 

But Will They Replace Humans?

With AI being able to handle increasingly sophisticated tasks, many believe they’re a growing threat to us humans. People are under the impression that they will start taking jobs away from us, and before we know it, they will gain sentience and start making slaves out of us ‘fleshies.’ That is one dystopian future nobody wants to become a reality.

But before we get in over our heads, AI-driven machines aren’t about to take us out. We are still at a stage where we are finding ways to make machines help make our jobs easier. And regardless of how far we’ve made them more advanced, there will always be a need for a human touch.

Humans take a lot of things into consideration when making an important decision. There are intangibles involved, such as emotions and creativity, which they combine with logic to arrive at the best outcome from any situation. On the other hand, bots based theirs purely on data and may be limited in scope.

 

Final Note

The advancements happening in AI technology are something to look forward to, but for some, they could be a threat. Even tech magnate Elon Mask has expressed concerns about AI warning us that it may create an ‘immortal dictator that we can’t escape from'.

But fret not! There won’t be any T-1000s hunting us down anytime soon. The whole point of AI-driven machines is to help us humans from labor-intensive tasks that can shorten the process. This makes the combined efforts of AI and humans more effective, with humans still overseeing that everything is going the way as planned.

Your job is safe. For now at least…

 

Looking for help with your technical support initiatives? At Intelligent Bee, we've got a team of experts (with the human touch) ready to provide flexible solutions at competitive prices. Contact us today!


Are You Ready to Build Your First Corporate Mobile App?

Are You Ready to Build Your First Corporate Mobile App?

If you haven’t noticed, there’s now an app for almost anything. It used to be that apps were associated more with mobile games, but thanks to mobile app development technologies, that’s no longer entirely the case.

Are You Ready to Build Your First Corporate Mobile App?
Today, there are non-gaming mobile apps that enable people to get things done or get the product or service they need straight from their smartphones. For instance, people no longer need to leave their house if they want to do their groceries. Through e-commerce apps, shoppers can buy household items and then have these delivered at their doorstep – all accomplishable with a few simple taps.

The following data shows that corporate mobile apps are noticeably proliferating across industries:

  • As of 2018, the number of apps available to consumers on the leading app store (Android) has already reached 3.8 million. (Statista)
  • The increase in mobile app usage outside of the gaming industry is as follows: 332% for device customization slash enhancement apps; 135% for mobile newspapers and magazines; 125% for productivity apps; 81% for lifestyle and shopping apps; and 53%-54% for travel, sport, health and fitness, messaging, and social apps. (Smashing Magazine)
  • Revenue from in-app purchases – which enable the app to earn money each time users purchase something within the app – amounted to $37 billion in 2016. (BusinessofApps)
  • Companies like Domino’s Pizza and Zara increased their sales by 28% and 60%, respectively, with the use of their mobile app. (KnowTechie)

Keep in mind that these figures are expected to continue growing as the mobile age reaches its maturity. If that’s not enough to convince you of the value that mobile apps bring to the table, why don’t we take a look at some of the most compelling benefits they can help you realize.

 

The Benefits of Having a Corporate Mobile App

  1. Brand awareness

A mobile app puts your brand in front of consumers and increases their recognition of your business, especially if you take functionality and user-friendliness seriously. Over time, as users try out your app, they’ll become more familiar with your brand, business model, and line-up of products and services. This builds up a level of trust, which makes people more likely to choose you over other businesses, which they have not encountered before.

 

  1. Customer engagement

Mobile devices are so handy that people have been spending a great deal of time on them, specifically on smartphone apps, which represent about 90% of users’ mobile time. With the right app, you can reach more users online and engage them every step of the way.

Thus, it’s important that you build several features into your app, including those that customers need for placing orders, managing purchases, keeping track of promotions, and communicating with customer service, among others.

 

  1. Marketing directly to customers

One of the biggest advantages of having a mobile app is it gives you an opportunity to market your business directly to customers. Think about it. A corporate mobile app is like having a whole new marketing channel.

Each time users open your app, you can send them information about new or upcoming products that you think they might be interested in. Moreover, you can use your app to capture important customer data, such as their product views or order history, and then use it to improve their experience within the app.  

 

  1. Added source of revenue

A mobile app can be an income-generating tool for your business. Having an enterprise mobile app not only complements your brick-and-mortar sales but also lets you monetize people’s use of your app in a couple other ways.

For instance, you can bring third-party advertisers into your app and charge them whenever someone clicks on their ad. Another monetization model for your app is to charge users a monthly subscription fee, so they can continue using the full features of your app.

 

  1. Complementing your website

You might think you no longer need a mobile app if your website is up and running anyway. However, you can design your mobile app in a way that supports your website, so you can serve customers in a more optimized fashion.

Since users who have no internet connection will not be able to access your website through a browser, they can have your app installed on their mobile devices, so they may still enjoy certain functionalities through offline mode. That said, you can build an app that allows users to save the information or files they need for offline viewing or reading.

 

Questions to Ask Before Venturing into Corporate Mobile Apps

Before springing into action, it helps to know the ins and outs of mobile app development. Here are some questions to ask yourself before proceeding with your project:

  1. How much will it cost? The cost of building an app depends on several factors, including the type, size, and functionalities of your app, to mention a few. Your app’s overall goal will tie into your budget to determine what to build and how much to spend on it.

  2. Which platforms will the app support? Your two main markets are iOS and Android devices, but you should also take into consideration that there are Windows phone users. 
  3. What’s your goal? In developing your app, you should also identify how it’s going to help your other business goals. Revenue wise, you can choose whether you will charge for in-app purchases, app downloads, or third-party ads. In terms of customer experience, you could prioritize between functionality and a pleasing user interface. 
  4. Do we have the skills? You’ll need tech wizards to visualize, design, develop, test, and maintain your mobile app. If your team doesn’t have these specialized skill sets, you can outsource your mobile app project to a software development company instead. 
  5. Is there a need being fulfilled? You’ll want a winning app that fulfills an unmet need in your target market. Your app should fill the gap between what users want and what options are available to them so far. 
  6. How to market the app? To get your mobile app into the hands of users, you’ll need to promote it on multiple channels, such as blogs, social media, email platforms, app stores, PR events, paid advertising media, and the like. 
  7. What integrations will you build into the app? You can leverage your app by  into it, or by allowing users to log into your app using their social media credentials. This will make it easy for users to share information from your app to social sites in a seamless manner.

 

Conclusion

To maximize your corporate mobile app’s chance for success, you should be able to answer these questions. Now, the million dollar question is: Are you ready to build your first corporate mobile app?

It will all boil down to how useful your app is for both your business and your customers. Make your app great enough that customers would want to install and keep it in their device for as long as possible.

 

Want an experienced team of developers to build your next corporate mobile app? Contact the experts at Intelligent Bee today!


When Should Businesses Outsource Custom Software Development?

When Should Businesses Outsource Custom Software Development?

Most, if not all companies have a common goal – and that’s to be the best in their field. As industries are becoming more globally competitive, it’s crucial that you continuously evaluate and improve the way you do things to avoid being left behind. It’s also critical that you make the right business decisions, such as when or why you should outsource your company’s digital application or software development needs.

When Should Businesses Outsource Custom Software Development?

Here are different scenarios where you might need to tap the services of an external custom software development team for your business:

 

  1. When you’re trying to focus on core business areas

IT work takes up time, which might prevent you from concentrating on core business activities that drive revenue. If you see that building your IT projects takes time away from your main business, you might be working on your priorities all wrong.

When you free yourself from IT-related tasks, you can focus your assets and resources more appropriately on your company’s area of expertise. This can help you establish leadership in your industry since you’ll have more time to innovate your current offerings, resulting in better customer satisfaction along the way.

 

  1. When you lack the budget

A low budget for your IT department can be a significant challenge, mainly because developing software is costly. You’ll have to pay upfront costs to build your IT infrastructure, purchase development tools and licenses, and hire and train IT staff. These costs can further increase as your team grows.

By contrast, there aren’t many overhead costs involved when you decide to outsource custom software development to third-party contractors. Often, these vendors offer full-cycle development services in custom software, mobile application, and web application development at cost-effective rates.

 

  1. When you’re short on expert developers

Software development has a very technical nature to it, which makes it mandatory that you hire only the most experienced developers. If you don’t have access to highly skilled developers, you should definitely consider outsourcing a team.

Expert developers have more experience in this field and will be able to better design software that suits the specific needs of your business. As they work on your project, they can anticipate possible problem areas and immediately make helpful recommendations.

Hiring developers with complete skill sets can lead to many positive things once the software goes live, including optimum efficiency and usability levels, better security, and ultimately, a high return on investment (ROI).

 

  1. When you don’t have the infrastructure

You’ll need to invest in a formal tech infrastructure for software development. However, if your business model isn’t directly related to this discipline, it might be unwise to build an IT infrastructure from scratch in-house.

In their years of being in the business, outsourcing companies have already established a robust IT infrastructure. They have state-of-the-art technologies and solutions to address even the most complex projects. Your business will also benefit from a fully functional IT infrastructure, so the security of your customer data and other company resources will not be compromised.

 

  1. When you lack support and maintenance manpower

Software design or development is not a one-time project. You’ll need to continually monitor and modify how it works, depending on the needs, demands, or expectations from end-users.

If your company doesn’t have a dedicated team of tech support, your product could quickly become problematic. An outsourced team will be responsible for introducing new features and fixing system bugs to make sure that the product works as efficiently as possible. This way, you don’t have to replace or rework the software altogether every time an issue shows up.

 

  1. When you have limited access to cutting-edge technology

When it comes to technology, things are always moving in the fast lane. What’s new today may not be so unique tomorrow, with developers constantly coming up with and releasing more advanced programs. To help your company adapt to rapid technological shifts, you can look to outsourcing companies since they have ready-access to the latest technologies, tools, and resources relevant to software development.

 

  1. When product movement is quite slow

Tech guys agree that dev work is a step-by-step process, where shortcuts are not always possible. Then again, there’s the business perspective that the sooner you can get your product out there, the better.

To prevent your company from having to deal with this dilemma, you’ll need to exert more control over how long your software development takes to finish. Software development companies recognize this need and are reliable enough to deliver what’s expected of them within a reasonable timeline.

 

  1. When your quality assurance processes are insufficient

Outsourcing companies take pride not only in their technical expertise but also on their knowledge about market trends, which allows them to deliver high-quality work to clients. With their technical skills, they can help you improve your products to deliver an enhanced experience to both your employees and end-users.

You can ask for as many product testing and trial sessions as needed before finally rolling out your software to the public.

 

Final Words

Your custom software development needs to be precise, organized, and timely to have the competitive advantage that you’re aiming for. Since many aspects in software development require specialized skills, you’ll want to work with the best team you can find.

Intelligent Bee’s track record in providing custom software development services is like no other, as we offer software solutions that suit your business needs and resources. Contact us to start your project today!


Tech Support Scams to Watch Out For

Technical Support Scams to Watch Out For (and How to Spot Them)

Technology has helped the world in many ways, but there’s no denying that there’s a dark side to it. For instance, phones, computers, and the internet can be exploited by fraudsters to deceive unsuspecting users into giving up personal information, and to some extent, their properties too.

Tech Support Scams to Watch Out For

Technical support scams do just that—they fool the unaware into thinking that there’s something wrong with their system and equipment, make them contact an unknown number, and steal personal information as victims are unknowingly being tricked. There are also instances wherein the scammers are the ones who call the user.

 

Tech Support Scams in Numbers

These types of cons are nothing new, but admittedly a lot of people still fall for it, especially since criminals keep finding new ways to conduct their fraudulent activities. A 2016 survey sponsored by Microsoft found that 2 in 3 people have experienced a type of tech support scam within the past 12 months; 1 in 10 have lost money.

In 2017, Microsoft’s Customer Support Services received 153,000 reports of such scams from 183 countries, with a 24% rise from the previous year. Approximately 15% of those who reported lost an average of $200 and $400.

Virtually anyone who owns a connected device is vulnerable—even though Microsoft is often namedropped by tech support scammers (with the company receiving 12,000 complaints every month globally), having a device other than Windows cannot protect a person either, as these deceptive acts can also fool those who use MacOS, iOS, Android, and other operating systems.

In terms of age, scams reported to Microsoft tend to be from older customers. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has found evidence that the elderly are more impacted by fraud as compared to the younger generations. However, it was also found that millennials (ages 18–34) are more likely to continue with a fraudulent tech offer compared to other age groups.

The underlying cause, though, is that many people are fooled into thinking that they are working with a legitimate business, whether that user is old or not.

 

The Fallout

As mentioned, tech support scams are designed to trick users into believing that their devices are compromised. The frauds will then coerce the user into purchasing unnecessary support services. In some instances, they will request access to the user’s device by getting sensitive information or making them install dubious apps that can remotely retrieve the details they need.

In December 2014, when tech support scams hit mainstream media, Microsoft sued several companies for unfair and deceptive business practices and trademark infringement. Later in 2015, the FTC announced the shutdown of several tech support scammers that pretended to be associated with Apple, Microsoft, and Google, and stole a combined $17 million from consumers.

In another case, the FTC had to give out partial refunds to around 37,000 victims of a fraudulent tech support company named Inbound Call Experts. This is after the company tricked consumers into buying unnecessary products and services by pretending that there is something wrong with their computers, all of which happened from April 2012 to November 2014.

No matter how big a business is, taking a legal action remains to be an arduous process. In this instance, Microsoft had to deal with the consequence of additional costs to fix issues that the company didn’t intend to put themselves into.

Despite Microsoft proving their innocence, there’s no denying that negative news like fraud can have a lasting impact on consumers. Those who don’t know better would likely continue to associate Microsoft with the fraudsters.

 

Spotting the Sham

The best way to avoid falling into shady acts is knowing what constitutes a tech support scam.

 

  1. Unsolicited Calls

This outdated yet effective sham is done through cold calls. The fraudster who claims to be from a reputable company will call the target and say that the company found something wrong on the computer.

Microsoft and other companies often employ outsourced tech support, but no tech company will ever reach out to the consumer, even if it’s in the name of public service. Microsoft’s security bulletin reads, "Microsoft will never proactively reach out to you to provide unsolicited PC or technical support. Any communication we have with you must be initiated by you." That means users will only receive a call if they request it.

In addition, caller IDs can be manipulated to show only the company name, but not the number, so it’s not reliable either. Hang up if this ever happens, and never give any personal information.

 

  1. Phishing Emails

It’s easy to fall for a phishing email because it does look like a message from a legitimate source. But once the target clicks and visits a malicious link included for a fake site that the scammers control, they will then be fooled into filling out a form with their sensitive information like email password, credit card details, bank account number, etc.

Again, the best way to avoid this practice is to ignore it (and delete the email, too) and never reply. Don't click any of the links on it, either. Remember to change passwords regularly as well.

 

  1. Sketchy Advertising or Pop-ups

Pop-ups appear when users are browsing the Internet and visit a website that contains suspicious links that, when clicked, will redirect them to a site hosting the pop-ups. These pop-ups can get so intrusive that it can become difficult for the user to close them as they appear.

Often, these pop-ups will contain a message stating that the computer is infected or that it will be locked down, blocking internet access, or making it unusable. The message will usually be accompanied by a phone number which the user can contact to fix the problems, or so it claims.

First off, you should know that legitimate IT support groups will not use pop-up messages to alert you of issues, so it’s best to ignore these messages. Aside from that, scrutinize the message and look for poor spelling or grammar and lousy imagery, which would usually imply fraud. A quick Google search can also support the legitimacy of the contact details included.

 

  1. Confusing Search Results

Interestingly enough, fraudulent companies also have budgets to use legitimate paid search channels to advertise their fake support services. To be on the safe side, study the website chosen before retaining a company’s services and always keep an eye out for trust signals.

 

In Conclusion

As long as technology continues to advance, so will the swindlers who continue to take advantage of users, especially those who aren’t well-versed in the technological aspect. The responsibility remains with users and consumers, as they need to stay vigilant in this thriving yet perilous age of information security. Tech companies, meanwhile, should do their part and ensure better protection for their clients.