According to a Research and Markets report, chatbots are expected to see a 24.1% compound annual growth rate from 2021 through 2025 to help CX to improve customer service, make payments, help contact centers manage spikes in call volume and for a variety of other uses.

These chatbots are using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to continuously improve on their speed and the complexity of the answers they can answer correctly, enabling them to handle an ever-growing number of customer interactions. Below are five top ways chatbots are being used today to enhance CX.

1. Increased Access

Organizations don’t have the personnel to answer all incoming customer queries. The University of Texas at San Antonio (USTA), for example, uses its ADVi chatbot (short for “advisor”) to answer prospective student questions about various college admission and financial aid, send automated deadline reminders and more. All to supplement short-staffed high school counseling departments. The USTA Urban Education Institute (EIU) the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) and AdmitHub worked together to develop the chatbot.

“At the average high school, the student-to-counselor ratio is about 445-1, making it hard to get personal attention,” said Mike Villareal, USTA EIU director. “If you are a student with questions about preparing for or enrolling in college, ADVi is available to help you at any time of the day.”

2. Increased Lead Generation

“With conversational marketing being one of the major trends in digital marketing that shows no sign of slowing down, we use a chatbot as part of our own lead generation strategy and we recommend our clients use them as well,” said Gatis Viskers, director of the Ambition Digital marketing agency. Viskers added that a clothing ecommerce company that his organization works with uses a chatbot to collect and prospect customer emails as well as to answer frequently asked questions.

“In cases where the chatbot cannot help the customer find an answer, it’s at least able to collect the email and place them in a funnel for future marketing opportunities,” Viskers said. “This is especially true if the visitor is looking for an answer to questions like '“when will (item X) be back in stock?’ By demonstrating this buyer intent, the chatbot is either able to recommend related items or collect the customer's email for future updates.”

Related Article: Why Conversational AI Is So Much More Than a Chatbot

3. Faster Interaction With Live Agents

According to the Solvvy 2021 State of Chatbots Report, 55% of consumers prefer to use a chatbot rather than wait for a human agent. Educational Testing Services (ETS) took this to heart.

ETS administers the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE) and other tests in education. It uses its Anita chatbot to support test takers by delivering the answers to their most popular questions more quickly and conveniently, said Jay Butler, ETS director of production and delivery. “Our use of chat as a contact channel has been increasing year-over-year. As we observed this trend continuing to grow, we also saw an increase in the number of 'generic' inquiries that needed a response. We utilized and leveraged the Anita chatbot to handle these inquiries, allowing test takers with more complex questions the opportunity to speak to a live agent faster since they weren’t waiting in the same queue as someone with a generic question.”

Learning Opportunities

Since implementation last year, ETS has seen the chatbot handle as many as 85% of calls, Butler added. “The chatbot initiative has been a major success for both the contact center and ultimately, our test takers.”

4. Faster Ordering

Dominos Pizza’s chatbot, Dom, is a great example of AI reducing ordering times. The pizza chain's chatbot enables customers to place orders using preset options like “pasta,” “pizza,” “sandwiches,” etc., eliminating the need to type in these common orders. The app also automatically applies any discounts or other deals (e.g., free drink with pizza order), so a customer doesn’t need to fumble around for a coupon code. Customers can customize pizza orders by choosing the size of pizza, crust and toppings. Customers can choose toppings for half or all of the pizza and can specify light, medium or heavy sauce. Customers can change any of these options before placing the order without needing to restart the order from scratch.

Additionally, customers can choose to use voice commands with the Dom chatbot, making him easier to work with.

Related Article: How Conversational AI Works and What It Does

5. Easier Hospital Schedulings

An increasing number of hospitals, doctors offices and dental practices are relying on chatbots for the scheduling of office visits, prescription refills and similar services, said Chris Nicholson, co-founder and CEO of mPulse Mobile. “A chatbot can collect valuable information, like the reason for a given appointment, patient symptoms, etc. Not only do they provide an improved consumer experience, as chat often feels more personal than search, chatbots rely on a blend of healthcare experts to provide reliable data to analyze patient symptoms, respond with helpful information, and appointment recommendations when necessary.”

Chatbots also help automate and improve patient and member engagement — an area that is often challenging for healthcare organizations trying to get patients to be active in their own health, Nicholson added. “Chatbots create meaningful experiences by connecting and engaging with people in valuable ways. Whether it’s an important health reminder, sharing new health information, or gathering a mental health update in real-time, engagement chatbots provide consistent touchpoints that build better long-term relationships between patients and their care teams.”