The right tool for the right task, acquiring the right bot for the job

Chatbot took the world by storm, but it doesn’t solve everything. Email communication is here to stay, and an Emailbot is needed for email processing automation

There was an old saying

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

This is particular true for consultants who are specialised in a particular technology, or product house who are selling a particular product. In customer meetings, it was rarely about assessing whether their technology or product is suitable for the problem being presented, instead it was about how to angle the technology or product as the solution to the problem.

For the past few years, companies who are experts in conversational AI, have been bombarding the market with messages how conversation is the way of the future as the younger generation turns to conversations (Messenger, Snapchat, Slack, etc.) and automating conversation will bring tremendous value to businesses who are early in the game. The value propositions and business cases are hinging mostly on the expected transfer of traffic from the traditional channels.

Simplifai, like many other AI product companies, has a well-designed Chatbot that would serve its purpose in a very user-friendly and efficient manner. However, Chatbot alone doesn’t solve all the problems and based on that believe, we have developed Emailbot and Documentbot to cover the gap left behind by the Chatbot.

Chat is now a popular communication channel as it is quick and less attention demanding than phone calls. However, the often-long queue still requires the end user to be standing by the computer or phone to the next available agent. In more serious exchanges, such as healthcare, banking transactions, emails are often seen as more formal and can store the history in a more structural manner.

It wouldn’t be easy to dig through the chat record for a specific comment 3 weeks ago and refer to that in another chat session. The lack of a uniform chat platform also makes it less user-friendly to carry through chat sessions with different companies.

For example, I can file a request to my doctor, my bank, and the local tax office all from my Gmail mailbox. However, if I need to chat with each of them, I need to go to the home page to chat with each of them separately. Even if they are all on one of the common chat interfaces (Messenger, Snapchat, Slack, etc.) there are still several to choose from. We expected that the flow of traffic from email to chat will be much slower than what most companies has projected, and the data in recent assessment of business effect after 3+ years of having a Chatbot confirms the expectations (10% email traffic reduction after 3 years of Chatbot).

So, if Chatbot hasn’t managed to draw the traffic from email to chat in a large scale, what can we do about automate email processing?

Email has existed since the birth of internet, and despite many attempts over the year of reducing and removing email traffic, email traffic has only grown since then. Nothing is more convenient for the end user and customer to just open their Gmail or outlook to just hammer their request and press send.

Web forms have existed since the turn of century, allowing the structured form data to push straight to the back-office system was efficient for businesses, but it pushed the workload to the end user who needs to figure out how to fill out the form correctly, and eliminate any other important information that the web form was not ready to receive.

The biggest challenge with email is the slow responses. Research shows that customers expect an answer within a day for emails, but in reality, businesses’ average reply time for email inquiries are 2 to 3 workdays. Thus, emails are often used in cases where a quick response is less important than an elaborative response and are regarded as a more formal way of communicating over internet.

With that in mind, Simplifai started last year to act on an idea that preserves the benefits of the email communication and removes the friction for end users to use email as a communication channel.

Emailbot is considered a much better approach in cases where Chatbot comes short. Having more products in our product portfolio allows us to suggest the best solution to businesses’ problems.

Emailbot is best used when there are more documents involved, and emails are the predominantly the main communication channel. Industries such as law firms, B2B wholesale, medical, governmental, bank and finance (back office).

On the other hand, Chatbot is extremely efficient in settings where many are looking for quick answers, FAQ pages are just too difficult to go through for the answers, typical mass volume B2C cases like telecom, bank and insurance (customer service), postal service, retail, etc.

Knowing your customer, and the channel they prefer to interact with your business, is crucial in the planning of your digitalisation and automation strategy. Know the differences in communication channel and select the appropriate automation product to automate your customer dialog (whether it is through chat or email) will be the recipe to success.

We see the value and potential of conversational AI, but we also see the limitation and have bridged the gap with an even more powerful tool in Emailbot that will always be there as emails have always been.

Erik Leung, Chief Operating Officer