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Definition: What is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a powerful customer support tool. Generally, they’re designed to operate as virtual customer assistants.
A chatbot can also be defined as an artificial intelligence program designed to simulate a customer service representative. It’s designed to automate many of the customer support processes, mainly by providing answers to some of the questions that customers ask.
Ideally, a chatbot will be mimicking human behaviour and the nature of communication in a manner that’s efficient enough to pass them as humans.
Users don’t necessarily need to use certain keywords to communicate with a chatbot. Chatbots have significantly advanced and can direct a conversation in a manner that no one can suspect that they’re not human.
The State of Chatbots in Singapore
Chatbots are here to stay. If machines fail to replace humans by taking many of their jobs in the future, you can bet chatbots will.
The narrative being ferried around is that robots are here to steal our livelihood, and it’s only natural that people would be freaked out.
But one thing people are almost forgetting is that robots aren’t exactly after our jobs. They’re here to replace tasks so that humans can at least learn to be more creative.
Tasks can be automated.
And while there are causes for concern about bots and automation in general, what we should be worried about the most are the problems that come with people misusing the technology – another case of, “let’s cross the bridge when we get there.”
One good example of how robots and humans can coexist at a workplace are chatbots.
There’s no denying that chatbots have significantly advanced – from being originally considered a joke, to gaining the capability to perfectly mimic the human thought process.
Facebook and LinkedIn are using them to build their platforms. Businesses, on the other hand, have now realised that they can use them to respond to the simple questions that their customers ask, while their staff focuses on more complicated tasks.
Chatbots are proving to be even more useful to smaller companies.
Singapore is a thriving AI hub, thanks to its forward-thinking government that’s been one of the earliest adopters of the AI technology.
It started with the government teaming up with Microsoft to develop smart AI chatbots for delivering a string of tech-based human-like user support services. This chatbot could respond to some of the personalised questions people asked in an interactive and conversation-like manner, saving users the trouble of digging through huge chunks of content on government websites.
Now valued at $2.6 billion, the chatbot market share is projected to grow up to $9.4 billion in the next 4 four years (by 2024). That’s a compounded annual growth rate of 29.7 percent.
The reduced operational costs for enterprises would expedite the growth rate.
In the Asia Pacific region, chatbots are growing at a compounded annual growth rate of 9%.
They’re growing the fastest in North America (at a CAGR of 31.2%), followed by Europe (at CAGR of 30.4%).
Remember, the use of chatbots isn’t just limited to the customer service department. They can as well be used in the payment and processing segment, the marketing segment, the service segment, and so on.
However, it’s growing the fastest in the customer support segment at a 31.6% CAGR.
How a Chatbot Works
Not all chatbots are built the same. The underlying technology also tends to vary from one chatbot to another.
But really, everything boils down to the goals that you have. What do you wish to achieve through the chatbot?
On a broader note, many of the chatbots you’re likely to come across today fall under the following three categories:
The Three Types of Chatbots
These rule-based chatbots are designed to follow a set of predefined rules. It’s the simplest way to design a chatbot, only that the chatbot you design won’t be equipped enough to respond to complex questions.
The chatbot will be designed with a graphical user interface (GUI), where the bot builder will be using a chatbot decision tree to design a series of conversation paths.
These chatbots are designed to mimic the human thought process through machine learning or deep learning. They’re the modern chatbots that do not rely on pre-set questions and answers.
They’re more efficient when compared to rule-based chatbots, and ideally, more capable of answering the complex questions that customers ask.
Developers have to take the bot through a training session, where they’re trained to learn and understand the customers that interact with them.
These machine-learning chatbots are trained to analyse questions and read user intent and other entities before chiming in with a response.
These are the type of chatbots where you answer questions in real-time. Primarily, they are used by the sales and marketing department, where a customer asks a question, and you have a customer representative on standby on the other end to respond to them.
The Benefits of Chatbots
Marketers are under too much pressure today. They’re expected to not only deliver results but to also work on improving customer experience – a big task if you must say.
Not to mention the issue of dealing with ever-increasing consumer expectations or what’s widely referred to as the Amazon effect.
Customers are no longer patient. They expect you to answer them immediately. At the same time, they want all the answers you provide to be relevant and accurate.
The human labour force can only do so much, with a tipping point to how far they can go with this. But technology has the ultimate answer to this.
That explains why forward-thinking brands have been quick to adopt chatbots. Their value in business is unmatched, and here are a few ways your business could benefit from installing one:
Marketers put so much effort into driving traffic, only to end up with a conversion rate of 0.25% to 1%.
Recent studies reveal that customers prefer it when they’re able to engage with you on a one-on-one basis.
They’re more likely to go through with an action when they’re treated with respect and when their questions are answered promptly.
Increased Customers Engagement
A recent study reveals that engaging with your customers could increase your customer spend by about 40%.
You can engage with them on social media. But even more important would be to engage with customers that check your site out, and that’s where chatbots come in.
Chatbots are even better because the communication is two way. You’re not just giving a customer a piece of information, but releasing it in small chunks based on what they’re asking or inquiring about.
Generate Quality Leads
It would have been a lot easier to convert a lead if you could hear them out before scheduling a meeting.
However, chatbots have an easy solution for this. With their advanced qualification logic, it’s possible to perform lead qualifications and accelerate your sales.
Some chatbots are even designed to collect customer information, including their names, profession, location, and contact details. Some even go to the extent of creating customer profiles that you may use to keep the line of engagement open.
Perfect for Handling High Volume Support Inquiries
Imagine a situation where hundreds of customers are frustrated with your stand knowledge base and are reaching out to you with hundreds of questions. How do you handle all that when you’re alone or working with a team of a few customer support representatives?
This is where a chatbot saves the day once again. Let the chatbot handle all the simple questions as your team picks on the complicated ones and clear the backlog.
Perfect for Monitoring Consumer Data and Gaining Key Insights
A chatbot is a great tool for communicating with your customers. Adding to that, you’re not just communicating to the customer, but gathering feedback from them.
With the information you collect, you can improve your products and services or even optimise your site by redesigning low conversion pages.
For instance, your landing page may be generating a significant amount of traffic, but only a few of them are converting. What a chatbot does is that it offers you a chance to reach out to the customers with a survey or to ask for their opinion on what to change or improve on.
24/7 Customer Support
The other joy or running a chatbot is the 24/7 customer support that comes with it. Customers are free to contact you at any time of the day and be accorded with the necessary assistance.
Again, customers don’t have to wait for an operative to finish attending to other customers. If anything, a good chatbot should be able to handle multiple requests at a go without keeping any of your customers in waiting.
That’s why many businesses are replacing live chats, phone calls, and emails with chatbots.
Chatbots operate a whole lot like virtual robots. They can take numerous inquiries and respond to all of them without taking a break or breaking out.
Why are Chatbots Important?
Chatbots are not hyped for no reason.
They’re here to revolutionise the way that businesses interact with customers, and their impact is real.
Chatbots also offer businesses the opportunity to improve customer engagement by significantly reducing the cost of customer support.
It’s to be, however, noted that none of this is possible without human support. Regardless of what approach or platform you’re using, your human contribution is crucial in training, optimising, and configuring the chatbot system.
It’s projected that chatbots will account for 85% of customer support interactions by the end of 2020. The same studies also go on to suggest that by the end of the year, an average human will have had more conversations with bots than even their spouse.
In other words, bot interactions are going to become normal. You don’t necessarily have to respond to every single one of the questions that your customers throw at you. Not when a chatbot can be trained or programmed to handle some of these inquiries without requiring your physical presence.
Chatbot Statistics in Singapore
More and more businesses will be adopting chatbots as the year rolls by. As we speak, chatbots are being implemented in nearly all business verticals to improve customer experience and deliver outstanding customer support.
It’s no secret that chatbots are going to transform the way that businesses interact with their prospects and customers. Their use cases stretch far and wide, including lead generation, human resources, messaging apps, etc.
Key chatbot stats:
This is how the world of chatbots looks like based on statistics.
- By 2018, there were more than 300, 000 live chatbots on Facebook alone
- The industries found to benefit the most from chatbots include real estate, education, travel, finance, and healthcare, according to Chatbots Life, 2019
- It’s estimated that 80% of businesses in Singapore would have adopted chatbots by the end of 2020 (according to Outgrow’s report of 2018)
- More than 50% of customers think businesses should operate 24/7
- Chatbots could help you save up to 30% of your customer support cost
- The market value of chatbots was $703 million by the end of 2016. It’s now grown to $2.6 billion, with web experts estimating that it would have grown to $9.4 billion by the end of 2024.
Chatbot Trends to Follow in 2020
Chatbots will be more popular as the year goes by. More than 85% of businesses with websites would have adopted them by the end of 2020.
But that’s not where the trend ends. There’s more.
Chatbots will be more human-like
Chatbots are now adopting the human thought process. They’re being trained to think like humans and understand their nature of interaction with each other.
Through Machine Learning, Natural Language Processing, and AI, it’s now possible to create chatbots that are hard to differentiate from humans.
These chatbots are designed to:
- Deliver personalised customer experience, geared towards creating better customer relationships
- Boost customer loyalty and improve user experience
- Positively affect customer perception of your business so they can have something positive to comment about your business
Chatbots will be Transforming Call Centres through AI
Chatbots aren’t just limited to text conversations. With AI fronting its revolution, 2020 will be the year when these chatbots will be adopted as automated call centres.
These call centres will be using the chatbot technology, spearheaded by AI, to receive information on issues. They’ll also gather personal details.
And based on the information being received, the chatbots can choose whether it’s within its capability yo address it or if they should pass it to the next available agent or operative.
Adaptive chatbots are designed to analyse data and offer solutions that are specific to a particular company or market setting.
They’re designed to offer the right solutions and answers.
The difference is that most of the chatbots require to be updated from time to time, which can be so taxing considering information keeps changing from time to time.
However, this marks a new era of chatbots. Through AI and Machine Learning, it’s now possible to create adaptive chatbots with the ability to learn and update themselves.
And 2020 is the year when many businesses will be going for adaptive chatbots that update themselves.
Chatbots Will have Better Customer Insights
It bears repeating that many of the chatbots to be created in 2020 will be AI-driven.
That means they’ll be more useful and relevant to customers, even more than they’ve been in the past. Customers will learn to enjoy them more.
And that’s because these chatbots will try to learn and understand every single one of them before reaching back with a solution to a problem they have.
These chatbots are designed to dig around for more information on their customers. They’ll begin by scouring around for what the customer is interested in. They’ll even follow their paths online and use their previous searches to come up with the most suitable solution to their problem.
Replace Mobile Apps
The past few years have seen to it that many people are obsessed with creating mobile apps for their businesses. But all this is about to change as this obsession shifts to chatbots.
The app market is bloated. It, therefore, makes sense that businesses and larger organisations would want to shift to AI-powered workflows.
Things will be a little different in 2020.
Chatbots will be blessed with a voice. Instead of typing queries, customers will be allowed to voice it and have the chatbot respond in kind.
Voice experiences are finding their way to the mainstream. And it’s not like chatbots are about to be left behind.
Social Media will also be Adopting AI
There are more than 300, 000 bots on Facebook alone.
As a matter of fact, more than 2 billion messages are exchanged between brands and customers via Facebook using an automated AI system.
AI will be helping you understand a few things as a marketer, including:
- The amount of time that your customers are spending online
- Which social media platform are they using the most?
- Why should you be using social media in the first place?
Costs of AI Chatbots in Singapore
The sophistication associated with AI-driven chatbots has directed many people into thinking that they cost a fortune.
But nothing could be further from the truth – if you can afford to set up a professionally done website in Singapore, then you definitely can afford to foot the cost of an AI-driven chatbot.
It’s even better now because there are tools, frameworks, and libraries that have been specifically created to make the process of creating one a cinch and affordable.
So, what’s the cost of setting up a fully functional AI-driven chatbot in Singapore?
Well, let’s begin by saying that there isn’t a fixed cost for creating a chatbot in Singapore.
How much you get to pay for it will depend on the nature of your business and the goal that you have.
But typically, software companies involved with the creation of chatbots tend to charge between $15, 000 to $30, 000 for a custom chatbot.
Companies in Silicon Valley, on the other hand, tend to charge a minimum of $30, 000 to design a simple chatbot that can respond to some of the questions your users ask online.
This is the price range for designing a simple chatbot. For a more sophisticated one, powered by Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing technologies, you should be prepared to shell out between $40 000 and $100 000.
Combine it with a payment gateway, and the chatbot created can be a fully-fledged business solution.
You can start by setting up a simple chatbot to automate your company’s workflow, and then gradually update it to an AI-based bot once it begins to show efficiency.
Overall, the cost of developing a chatbot in Singapore can range from $5,000 to $200, 000, owing to so many factors.
Top 20 Chatbot Development Companies in Singapore
Here’s a top 20 list of chat development companies in Singapore, according to Clutch:
- Affle Enterprise: Affle offers a wide range of software solutions to companies that want to go online.
It’s a global technology, focused on delivering consumer acquisition, engagement, and transactions. They’re one of the most sought-after software solutions in Singapore, and Microsoft is among the companies that have invested in it.
- Unicsoft: Founded in 2005, Unicsoft is one of the leading software solutions in Singapore. The company offers end-to-end software development solutions, with expertise in ML, BI, Blockchain, Mobile Development, AI-driven chatbots, and so on.
They have a 75% customer retention rate, thanks to their dedicated team of QA testers, software engineers, web developers, software developers, mobile app developers, and other professionals.
- Finwin: Finwin was founded in 2018, and has grown to be one of the most recognised custom software solutions in Singapore. They even have their own software product for banking and trading.
The company implements fintech platforms, electronic wallets, ecosystems, AI-driven chatbots, and so on.
They have a dedicated team that can design complete machine learning software products from scratch, and there’s no limit as to what they can do.
- Techddy Solutions: Techddy has been around since 2014. They’re one of the most experienced software solutions in both Singapore and India.
They have expertise in developing Augmented Reality and AI-based systems.
For AR, the company uses technologies such as Vuforia and Unity, while they have Python and Tensorflow for Artificial Intelligence.
- Acmex: Acmex started as a boutique software firm comprising of 5 team members. The year was 2010, and their offices at the time were located at Harbourfront Centre in Singapore.
They have grown a great deal since then and risen to become one of the most recognised providers of software solutions in Singapore.
- GoPomelo: GoPomelo is a multinational software consultancy and development agency in Singapore. The company works with agencies of all sizes in helping them evaluate and deploy innovative digital solutions that work to streamline workflow.
Their team consists of product specialists, cloud consultants, agile developers, and so on, with offices in Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam.
- Hashcash Consultants: Another global software solution company with offices in Singapore. The company is widely known for its blockchain products that different enterprises have been using to move assets, trade finances, and settle payments in real-time.
The company excels in blockchain technologies, but they do offer solutions in Big Data, IoT, and AI.
- Smart Source Technologies: Smart Source is one of the most experienced software solutions in Singapore. They have created and architected a diverse range of software products cutting across various industries, including banking, Government, Retail, Logistics, as well as Transportation and Distribution.
The company has a dedicated team of designers and developers with the capacity to handle the full cycle of product development, right from conceptualising, prototyping, designing, testing, implementation.
- LeadStarship: LeadStartship is known for building high-quality software products. Headquartered in Sri Lanka, the company has an extension office in Singapore, where they focus on architecting, designing, and developing app solutions that are geared towards the future.
In their portfolio is a long list of successful apps that they have created for different types of clients, including Sierra Green, Toko, and Conci Tyre.
- Web Spiders: Web Spiders operates in four countries, Singapore, India, Britain, and USA. They’re best known for ZOE RPA, a widely used customer automation and sales lead solution.
The company works with some of the leading technology platforms, including Microsoft, Adobe, Apple, Xamarin, and Amazon Web.
- Supertext: Supertext is only focused on one thing – giving your brand a voice. The company also operates as a SaaS company providing interactive AI solutions for Cognitive Data extraction, Business Messenger, and Business Automation.
Their specialty lies with bot automation, artificial intelligence, and robotic process automation.
- Zencode: Since 2013, Zencode has been working with startups and fast-rising tech companies in helping them create superior web products specifically tailored for their needs.
The company is headquartered in Singapore but has offices in Chennai, Bangalore, and Hong Kong.
- Ranosys Technologies: Ranosys is a digital software solution working in close partnership with Kore.ai, a powerful tool for creating and deploying AI-driven, enterprise-grade chatbots.
They have an experienced and dedicated team of developers that understand their way around Kore.ai bots in developing intelligent, near human-like modern chatbots that bring value to enterprises all over Singapore.
- KeyReply: KeyReply is a Singapore-based AI solution that specialises in chat automation and virtual assistants for businesses looking to engage with their customers on a more personal level.
No other company understands the business of chatbots better than KeyReply. Having created chatbots that have been deployed on Facebook, company websites, mobile applications, SMS, and so on, it’s safe to say they’re one of the most reliable chatbot solutions in the country.
- AiChat: AiChat has all the hallmarks of an agency to be featured on a list like this. For one, AiChat doesn’t hide the fact that the phenomenal success of WeChat inspired them.
Their plan was to operate as a conversational commerce company focused on delivering digital concierge services on messenger platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and SMS.
But after operating for a while, and following the many requests companies were placing in, the company would decide to venture into the business of developing chatbots.
- Singapore Chatbots: Singapore Chatbots operate as a chatbot SaaS and a chatbot development company.
The company specialises in all types of chatbots, having built omnichannel chatbots, including chatbots for the Facebook workplace, Slack Chatbots, Telegram chatbots, and Messenger chatbots, etc.
- Swagsoft: AppFutura recognises Swagsoft as one of the top developers on both web and mobile applications in Singapore, and it’s for a good reason.
The company services a diverse range of clientele, spanning from SMEs and startups to giant brands such as Caltex, BMW, and Singapore Airforce.
In their work forte is a comprehensive suite of app and software development services, including android app development, iOS app development, web design, augmented reality development, iBeacon Technology, Game Development, and AI-driven chatbot development, to name a few.
- Attitude Labs: Attitude Labs is a premier, on-demand software consulting and development firm offering data-driven tech solutions to small, medium, and giant brands in Singapore and other parts of the world.
The company is experienced in creating result-oriented software products from the ground up. Their portfolio features some of the most successful brands in Asia and the US, including Seraphic Infosolutions, Sibers, OpenRice, NextDigital, and Meyer.
- Mitrais: Mitrais is a well-known, Singapore-based software firm with a global presence. They’re among the few companies you should contact when you need a top-tier team of developers to work on creating, testing, implementing, and optimising any kind of business software or system.
- Vinova: Vinona has one of the most impressive work portfolios, having worked with some of the big names in the industry. They’re one of the leading app development agencies in the country known for producing world-class web products that stand second to none.
60% of respondents used chatbots to interact with a business. According to a survey by Salesforce, the evolution of chatbots has created marketing opportunities for many businesses due to their automation features. Furthermore, the growth of social media platforms such as Facebook messenger has enabled marketing teams to save company costs while delivering a better experience to their customers. By enabling better customer service, the bots have contributed to increased data traffic for many business websites.
Chatbots Improve Searching Efficiency Within Your Website
In this digital era where almost everyone owns a digital device like a smartphone or a tablet, having a chatbot in your business site is vital for your customers. Customers sometimes have a hard time searching for information about a product or service within your website. From this user experience, companies such as eBay developed a ShopBot that helps clients find items they want. The bots collect the customer queries and search for the correct product at a rapid pace. Moreover, chatbots consolidate different information that’s related to the searched product so a customer can make an informed purchase. Therefore, due to their intellectual capabilities and ease of speed, marketing departments should consider installing chatbots to their websites for better customer experience.
Chatbots Improve Customer Service
Many companies’ websites nowadays have embraced the use of chatbots to facilitate faster communication with their customers. Previously, customer service took place via telephone calls or in the form of emails which led to delays in customers receiving feedback on time. Many businesses did lose some of their clients and altogether their revenues. With the introduction of chatbots, queries from customers can now be answered in real time 24/7 within the small chat box, eliminating the long delays customers endured before. Brands like Airbnb, Spotify, and Evernote use chatbots on their social media platforms to quickly provide answers, address clients concerns and track customers orders. The bots also store the customer data for future reference. Besides, they have also reduced the overall support cost, as businesses can now cut staff numbers to handle customers.
Chatbots Qualify Your Leads
Lead management can be hard for some sales representatives. Potential clients have to be nurtured before the deal is sealed, and that can be pretty tiring. However, chatbots can simplify the process by qualifying leads on your behalf. A good example of one is MongoDB which increased lead generation by 70% when Drift installed the bot on its site. The chatbot answers prospective clients questions and drives the most qualified leads to a sales call. Afterward, the bots can direct the client to the desired product, making it seamless for the sales representatives to close the deal.
Chatbots are becoming more popular and are set to gain more steam in the digital market. The combination of their unique ability that provides a personal human touch coupled with their versatile functionalities, has made chatbots a must have when companies are creating their content marketing strategies. Therefore, businesses can consider the three highlighted benefits of embracing the use of chatbots for their marketing purposes.
Kudos for reading this article to the end. Hopefully, you’re as amped about setting up adaptive, AI-driven chatbot as we are here.
If you want us to expound on anything or provide you with more information or even help you with setting up a chatbot, feel free to contact us, and we promise to help you.