By Sudhir Agarwal

The growing sophistication and development of chatbots will make for some interesting workmatesin the coming years

It wasn’t long ago that people preferred to communicate with each other and with brands by voice, either face-to-face or through the phone. In fact, some of us can even remember walking into a bank branch to withdraw cash or speak to a bank manager. Fast-forward to 2018 and things could not be more different with text – whether e-mail or instant messaging – far more ubiquitous, and people of all ages now communicating through WhatsApp, WeChat or other channels. In fact, over one billion messages are exchanged with businesses through the Facebook Messenger App every month1, and by next year it is estimated that over a quarter of the world will use messaging apps2.

For those of us in the customer service industry, we need to take notice of this radical change in people’s communication preferences. We are in the business of communicating to customers on behalf of our clients, most of whom are huge multinationals with millions of customers. If we continue to communicate solely by phone, then we will fail to communicate properly with at least a quarter of the world’s population. This applies to customers, and it also applies to future employees.

That is why I am so excited by the recent launch of Everise/C3’s newest innovation to come out of the C3 Lab, Ana the Chatbot. Ana is our first internally-developed chatbot and will aid in talent acquisition for Everise/C3, being positioned throughout the C3 website. Initially Ana will help address questions and queries that potential applicants may have, ranging from basic information requests to more complex questions by directing them to the relevant part of the website or contact. Later iterations, though, will be even more sophisticated, taking applicants further in their journey towards employment.

Why is this important? Two reasons: first, by moving onto chat we are able to communicate to our audience (in this case, potential employees) in the medium that they are most used to, in addition to phone and other means. This technology will be leveraged for our own clients as well.

Second, Ana will work alongside our own HR personnel and assist them in the recruitment process. By pre-screening candidates and automatically answering some of the initial questions and requests for information that they will have, our own HR team will be free to conduct higher-value work including candidate outreach and deeper selection of suitable employees.

The idea of chatbots was first mooted as far back as 1960, but only recently have the advances in Artificial Intelligence and natural language processing made chatbots a reality. I would expect chatbots to play an ever-larger role in customer service in the coming years, and Everise/C3 will be taking the lessons leared from Ana and applying them to solutions for our own clients.

This means that the customer service personnel of the future will not just have other human colleagues to keep them company, but digital ones as well.

1 Facebook IQ, More Than a Message: Messaging Means Business.

2 eMarketer, More Than a Quarter of the World Will Use Mobile Messaging Apps by 2019.