We’re all accustomed to talking (or typing) with bots, whether Alexa, Siri, or Google Home, to play music, check the weather, receive sports updates, read the news, find out about traffic, or even operate home gadgets. Chatbots are being widely used in HR, IT Operations, and Customer Self Service in businesses. Due to fast technological breakthroughs in AI, the consumer need for 24×7 omnichannel interacts with business, and the huge and demonstrable business value acquired by early adopters, enterprise use of chatbots is expanding dramatically.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, cloud computing, and analytics, conversational technologies enable businesses to conduct meaningful discussions with their customers, suppliers, workers, and other stakeholders. Natural Language Processing (NLP), Speech-to-text, Text-to-speech, Language translation, Voice Biometrics, Sentiment Analysis, Emotion Recognition, Computer Vision, and Extended Reality are all examples of conversational technologies.
Conversational experiences are a key paradigm shift in which robots (or systems) adapt to people and learn and improve over time due to their use. Chatbots that are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, on consumer devices and via their chosen channels (Facebook, WhatsApp, Alexa, Siri, SMS), and integrated with conventional channels (websites, mobile applications, live chat) influence a company’s brand image and revenue growth.
Most chatbots nowadays employ guided dialogues using UI Widgets (if you look closely, you’ll see that most bots speak the natural language from the bot’s perspective, and the user reaction is primarily about selecting an option or entering a response) and yet fulfil the goal and provide advantages. NLP is predicted to evolve to a point where chatbots can speak with people shortly, thanks to technological breakthroughs in deep learning and the increased processing capacity of smartphones.
Supply Chain Management using Chatbot
Providing the relevant information at the right time, via the channel of the consumer’s choice, opens up a whole new universe of business model and interaction transformation possibilities. For example, conversational Technologies can efficiently simplify, modernise, and revolutionise the whole value chain in Supply Chain Management. With today’s technology, it’s possible to construct a chatbot in a matter of weeks, and the seeming ease of this procedure is the primary cause of most discomfort after a chatbot installation.
It’s critical to realise that Chatbots’ actual advantage – the ability to have meaningful discussions – comes from their successful integration with corporate systems (ERP, CRM, SCM) and data (structured and unstructured). It would be a huge error to see chatbots as just another kind of user interface. While setting up a rudimentary chatbot is simple, you must go the extra mile to get significant business benefits from conversational technology in Supply Chain Management.
Chatbots might be improved.
In what situations might chatbots be used in supply chain management? The easy solution may be found everywhere! Chatbots are an excellent alternative to conventional forms of contact wherever there is an interaction with a user. Conversational technologies provide real-time information updates, enhanced visibility and transparency, and improved communication that leads to cooperation.
Most businesses have invested in Supply Chain Analytics, which allows them to respond to developments in real-time and make risk-avoidant decisions. Chatbots may be utilised to convey these dynamic real-time choices to suitable stakeholders via their preferred channel, increasing visibility and avoiding the classic SCM issue of misunderstanding or delay.
Chatbots may help with order management, inventory management, fleet management, logistics, employee management, and other aspects of supply chain management. Let’s look at a particular example of employing chatbots in order management in this post.
Order Management using Chatbots
Part suppliers, component assemblers, packaging services, distribution, and logistics are all involved in the Order Management or Order-to-Cash (OTC) process, which affects the whole supply chain. Customers need a smooth experience and timely information, even though the process is complicated and maintaining visibility and control is a major difficulty.
One negative experience may cost a firm a client for life, but when a consumer has a positive experience, customers, particularly millennials, go out of their way to suggest the brand to others. In OTC, replacing conventional channels with chatbots in the customer preferred channel opens the door to customer happiness.
Customers may use chatbots to make new purchases, change orders, cancel orders, monitor orders, and provide feedback simply and entertainingly. A chatbot may manage the full order-placement process, from gathering facts like delivery location and mode to issuing the purchase receipt.
The bot may conclude the process by giving clients links to track their deliveries. Customers can now talk to the Chatbot 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to get order details and delivery status in their natural language. They can talk to the bot as many times as they want without having to make multiple phone calls, answer the same questions, remember the complex order ID, or wait for agents to respond.
The traditional one-size-fits-all approach to developing a website or mobile app does not work for a true human-like conversational experience. Design thinking, which is customer-centric and employs customer personas to model the customer experience, is well-suited to chatbot deployment, particularly if you’re targeting a worldwide market. Chatbots should be better developed to handle different client groups, taking into account local peculiarities and using the full power of consumer data to give a more personalised experience.
Businesses should adopt the learning paradigm.
Chatbots should be built in such a manner that they can gracefully accept delays or errors. For example, suppose the Chatbot cannot get the information the client requires. It should convey this clearly to the consumer and have a system in place to notify the customer as soon as the information is available. You may enhance the performance of your chatbots over time by using conversational metrics and analytics, A/B testing, and explicit consumer feedback.
When using chatbots, remember that customers may need human engagement at times, which may be provided by handing over to humans (during regular business hours) or triggering a call-back (typically during non-working hours). When such handoffs occur, the human agent must be informed of the customer’s current condition and previous talks, often offered by conversational platforms’ ‘Agent-Assist’ function.
Chatbots are being used to reimagine customer journeys.
While chatbots may certainly alter the user interface and experience, they also can completely reimagine the customer journey and increase engagement. Take, for example, the issue of unavoidable delivery delays. Chatbots enable you to notify customers of probable delays as soon as possible, and giving specifics on the projected delivery date is the absolute least that can be done.
That isn’t enough, however! Consider giving customers more options, such as cancelling the order/part of the order, picking up from the current location, redirecting the order to a different delivery address (within certain parameters), allowing them to choose an alternate product, providing them with incentives to compensate for the delay, etc., depending on the customer, ordered item, order value, and other parameters. All of this can be done programmatically and using chatbots, ensuring that the consumer receives a consistent experience rather than a variety of responses from various customer support representatives.
While most of these situations can be predicted and programmed, chatbots may also assist in rare cases when a human-in-the-loop is required. Instead of several customer service agents dealing with similar concerns from many clients, a chatbot may communicate with a senior customer care agent to educate the bot on the different rules to apply and the alternatives to be presented to the customer. Chatbots deliver a consistent and smooth omnichannel experience by reducing human mistakes since they access the most up-to-date information and expertise.
Another important aspect of chatbot success is good real-time communication with key stakeholders. Customer choices – order cancellations or changes in delivery instructions – must be communicated quickly to the right stakeholders (delivery agent or warehouse workers) to provide a seamless and frictionless experience.
Chatbots can increase visibility, transparency, and customer engagement by transforming the whole Supply Chain Management process. It is critical to see chatbot installation as a business process reimagination rather than just another channel or user interface to gain considerable advantages.
Chatbots, when combined with other enterprise technology investments in AI, enterprise integration, APIfication, cloud computing, IoT, and analytics, may open up new avenues of effectiveness, efficiency, and growth. The good news is that it’s perfectly OK to start small with a rudimentary chatbot, test the waters, and then gradually expand the breadth and capacity of chatbots to provide business value.
The use of chatbots to revolutionise supply chain management is more of an ongoing journey than a large one-time expenditure. Businesses could embrace a learning model similar to that of a chatbot and strive for continual improvement.