- The global chatbot market is forecast to grow by 24.43% over the next four years, with self-service apps driving adoption, according to a report by Research and Markets.
- Businesses are developing chatbots as virtual assistants in digital commerce and customer care, using technologies like machine learning, natural language understanding and artificial intelligence (AI) to engage customers. Virtual assistants can answer repetitive and fairly simple questions from customers, reducing call center costs.
- One of the major impediments so far to chatbot growth globally is the lack of awareness and standardization, according to the report. Consumers in emerging markets like Brazil and India are unaware of chatbots and their usefulness, which limits their widespread adoption.
Apple helped to popularize chatbots with the introduction of its voice-enabled digital assistant Siri eight years ago, but most chatbots are focused on text conversations, especially since mobile messaging is a staple of smartphone functionality. A major driver of chatbot growth will be the cost savings that the conversational software provides to businesses by streamlining their customer service. Consulting firm Accenture estimates that by 2035, the AI technology that powers more sophisticated chatbots will double economic growth rates in 12 developed countries and boost labor productivity by up to 40% by automating tasks such as responding to most customer inquiries.
Nearly two-thirds (65%) of consumers globally would like to use messaging services like WhatsApp, Viber, Facebook Messenger or Apple's iMessage to securely interact with organizations, according to an Opinium Research survey commissioned by Salesforce's MuleSoft. That percentage is even higher (78%) among people ages 18-34. But organizations have more work to do on their chatbots. The survey found that 43% of global consumers have engaged with a chatbot when contacting an organization in the past 12 months, but only 38% of those said their query had been completely resolved.
The popularity of messaging apps compared with social media apps will likely drive the usage of chatbots for years to come. While Facebook stands out with its 2.2 billion users, chat apps consistently have a strong user base: WhatsApp (1.5 billion), Facebook Messenger (1.3 billion), WeChat (1 billion) and QQ Mobile (783 million). Facebook two years ago added chatbot capabilities to Messenger, which now has more than 300,000 active bots powering 8 billion messages exchanged between people and businesses every month. This highlights the power of chatbots and the potential major traction they have among mobile-savvy consumers.