- Lamps Plus, the lighting retailer with more than three dozen U.S. locations, added a feature enabling shoppers to get order status updates from digital channels like Facebook Messenger, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant, according to a press release. Linc Global provided the artificial intelligence (AI) technology to handle customer interactions through chat apps.
- Linc’s platform enables real-time updates by email and SMS, along with chatbot interactions on Messenger and voice assistance from Alexa and Google Assistant. The platform also can gather feedback from customers about their experience with Lamps Plus, which the company can then use to improve future operations.
- The technology improves customer service while cutting costs, Angela Hsu, senior vice president of internet business and marketing at Lamps Plus, said in the release. Linc’s platform reduces the need for more expensive human customer service reps to manually handle questions about shipments.
Developing chatbots can be prohibitively expensive for some companies, but this news points to how AI-enabled technology is becoming more widely available through partnerships with companies like Linc Global. Chatbots have been maligned for not being very useful or wasting people’s time with clunky conversations. But one promise of AI is that chatbots can learn from past interactions to fine-tune how they behave in the future. That’s especially true for more simple interactions with customers like checking the delivery status of online orders.
Tech giants such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft and Samsung are developing their chat platforms to handle a wider variety of features and offer more fluid, natural conversations between humans and machines. Recently, Facebook said it plans to develop Messenger into a consumer support channel that businesses of all sizes can use to interact with their customers, while Apple plans to add Business Chat to the next version of its mobile operating system.
Chatbots are forecast to save companies more than $8 billion a year by 2022, up from $20 million in 2017, Juniper Research estimates in a study. The technology still has to overcome resistance from some consumers who are late to adopt the tech and don’t find much value in conversing with a repackaged script. Less than half (48%) of marketers said current two-way communications platforms could meet their needs, including social media, messaging apps and chatbots, a study by LiveWorld found.