Either you want to order food delivery, find an outfit for the night, buy rare flowers and send it to your girlfriend or anything like that – in the industrial era, these services looked quite differently from what they are now. It took time for customer services to shape up. First applications which were able to help at least halfway with these routine tasks seemed as extremely time-saving.

Once we woke up in a happy awareness that we lived in the era of automation which had started to bring pleasure by setting free more place from routine stuff. Then, nowadays, when we’re facing a need to reconsider our vision of automation. Robotic virtual agents make difference from everything we’ve learned before.

Education, marketing, healthcare, lifestyle, customer services – all of these fields suddenly turned out to be divided into automated tasks which can be delegated to our virtual agents. We’re almost near the point to wake up happy again being totally routine-free. But is it possible? Another question we have to ask ourselves – do we really need it?

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Let’s take to pieces what are those advantages and disadvantages of robotic assistants in different fields.

Pros:

Saving time – for buyer and business;
Sparing money and time together with helping to earn more – for business

Think about the way you used to buy things earlier. Before online stores became not just popular but truly irreplaceable part of our life, you had to leave a place in your schedule for shopping. Sometimes you had to spend whole your weekend this way. With the emergence of online stores, most of us refused to go to regular ones anymore. But even sitting in your chair in front of your laptop and scrolling thousand of items you can waste your time just as if you went outside to shopping mall. As you can see, it’s more about an illusion of difference.

What has changed?

Now, most of the online stores have virtual assistants that can help you with less time and energy expenses to find your way out to the thing you really need. Armed with image recognition, some of the chatbots enable you to upload pictures of what you wear to further assist you in finding new clothes according to your taste.

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Is it good for us, consumers? Yes, it’s helpful and it saves time. Is there anything we want more than this?

What those who run an online store? Definitely, we say them “yes”. From one side it speeds up a process of finding products, therefore provides a comfortable interface for buyers, therefore, yields more money.

From another side, you don’t need to hire a lot of human assistants and rent a huge place for your store in the city center. Comparing to a regular store you can spare a lot of money and earn just as much with an online store and a bunch of virtual assistants.

Availability and speed (24/7)

Now think about ordering food. Is there anybody here who still remembers how it used to be with no possibility to order food except phone calling? How easy it become after tech boom!  Thousands of websites and apps have emerged to help you with your search of something either special or just ordinary depending on your cuisine preferences and receive it at your door.

However, it’s still a deal of time you’d anyway need to spend doing your search. With robotic assistants, you don’t need to jump from one app to another to pick up right solution. You’ll be able to do it nearly at once 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Just keep in mind what you enjoy to eat.

Is it something we need as consumers? Maybe it isn’t one of our primarily needs but our work isn’t already measured only by “from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.”, instead most of us have way more unordered working habits. Sometimes we just want to press few buttons and get access to the best places in the surroundings either to order food or to go by ourselves. We don’t want to be measured either by the time of the day or by an amount of information. That’s what virtual assistant helps us to easily overcome.

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Is there anything helpful for us, those who run restaurants?

We say “yes” again. People frequently face some difficulties with websites for food ordering. It makes the process more complicated while the main law is: “Everything that slows down is bad”. The less time it takes for a consumer to come across our restaurant, and further on to find what he(she) needs – the more likely he(she) will make an order. Everything craves for easiness. However, sometimes to make it easier for customers costs a lot for business. In the case of robotic assistants, we don’t need to put a lot of efforts into making it possible.

Imagine another case. It’s late night and you’re in trouble with your child crying all the time. You think that there’ s the only way to wait until the morning time to connect with a real doctor. But with the robotic assistant (HealthTap) you can get access to a large amount of medical data and connect to the doctor who will help you with temporary advice and direct you further to the doctor you need to turn to next day. This is an example of the scenario where availability together with high processing capacity really matters.

Handling particular type of tasks for which it’s insufficient to build an app and/or web-site

There will be always this kind of tasks when you have a certain amount of repetitive work that should be automated but either creation of app and/or web-site or hiring somebody who can do the work that doesn’t require any specific knowledge would be rather expensive.  In these cases, bots come to help.

Consider such situation when you need your incoming information to be sorted. The bot can help you organize all the data for easier handling. In fact, you can deploy bot as your personal assistant, who handles your data, reminds you throughout the day about important things, tracks your expenses and much more. When it goes about data mining, bots are way more effective than humans. That’s why all the tasks concerned with the processing of information is advantageous to hand rather to the virtual assistants than to human ones.

Interactiveness

A simple app can’t handle that because you would anyway have to make a lot of actions. The bot would do it for you: push secret buttons, get more information from other resources, coordinate your directions. Chatbots were invented for communicating your needs in the most natural and efficient way and they are successfully dealing with this.

Why would you consider it as a something good for the customer?

Because everything becomes extremely easy when you can deal with your work tasks and routine stuff stay in the same messenger you’re talking to your friends and everything you need is to message your virtual assistant.

Is that good for business clients that deploy bots for online assistance or promotion? It’s helpful because people like bi-directional interaction, they don’t want to stay alone with all of this functionality, they won’t crawl through all of your service’s intricacies. That’s why robotic assistants are extremely helpful when it’s not obvious for the user how to deal with your service.

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Cons:

Narrowness

The problem of bots now is that they can be effectively set for performing an exact task, maybe few similar tasks, but not more. Of course, you can run another bot that will coordinate work of few bots at your disposal. However, it will make things more complicated while bots are for making them easier. In case if consumer requests information which is beyond the measures of bot’s knowledge, there will be a misunderstanding.

Not everything can be taught

Even though AI-driven chatbots can learn, there’s still a lot that needs to be scripted. Regarding all modern tools for creating bots, the development process can be cut extensively comparing to the creation of the app. However, it still requires hiring professionals who would make it almost perfect (everything can be improved with the time).

Customer service still needs human involvement

It often works in following way: customer contacts the service. Virtual assistant receives inquiry and asks additional questions to be sure where to direct user. When directions are defined, a user is being redirected to a human assistant who handles this type of services. It isn’t possible so far to automate all the process completely when it goes about complicated services.

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“Chat is going to be the next great operating system. Apps will come to be thought of as the new browsers; bots will be the new websites. This is the beginning of a new Internet.” These are the words of KIK CEO Ted Livingston who have launched Bot Store for his messenger platform.

Many of those in the head of innovative process today agree on this point of view. Even though there’s a lot to be improved in the bot development, results are already quite impressive. Bots successfully handle a bunch of tasks which would take an eternity for human (data mining and processing, making predictions). Also, they embody perfect tool for automation working as personal assistants, promoters, consultants.

Therefore, you can easily spare time and money, get permanent access and even earn more by deploying bot. Disadvantages of one or another approach will always exist, however, with bots, it’s just a question of a short period of time as the technology is evolving now so fast as never before.

Recommended reading:

Chatbots Evolution

Let’s trace together with the way from the simple device (where we all started) to a smart virtual assistant.

Top industries to use chatbots

Are the chatbots important for current technology era? Chatbots are obviously the main tech trend we’re talking about in 2016.

How to build smart customer service

Build smart customer service. Most of us imagine that in the future we all will live and work in smart houses, surrounded by robots.

Growth Hacker and Sales Hacker, MVP builder, love to run technology companies.