8 reasons why mobile apps and digital assistants are made for each other

digital assistantsSome industry observers claim that digital assistants and messaging will replace mobile apps. Cathal McGloin, CEO of conversational AI platform, ServisBOT, doesn’t subscribe to that view. Here are his eight reasons why mobile apps and digital assistants are made for each other.


Improved engagement

Smartphone features, such as geolocation, microphones and cameras, enable a host of mobile app services including route planning, search, vehicle breakdown assistance, image upload to speed onboarding and processing of fresh insurance claims. At the same time, QR code scanning provides access to specific sales and marketing webpages and makes it quicker for NHS COVID-19 app users to check in to hospitality venues to comply with safety rules.

Smoother customer journeys

While they undoubtedly improve engagement, if a customer needs to leave a mobile app and connect via a different channel to get more information, there is a risk that they will drop out of the journey.

A mobile digital assistant or chatbot within the mobile app provides a more seamless experience, with the added benefit that if the customer’s query remains unresolved, the bot can transfer the conversation to a human agent who can provide a personal response over live chat, without the customer ever leaving the mobile app.

Brands are in fierce competition for customers’ attention. According to research undertaken by Simform, the average smartphone user has downloaded 40 apps to their mobile, but regularly uses just 18 of them. Organisations can use digital assistants to help maintain engagement with their apps and smooth the customer journey.

Personalized service at scale

Traditionally used for customer service, mobile digital assistants can also be used to broadcast promotional information and to cross-sell, as well as sending personalized campaigns based on people’s current location and previous interactions with the brand.

Mark Beccue, Principal Analyst in Omdia’s AI practice, notes that organisations are increasingly using virtual digital assistants as a major customer channel and advises enterprises to deploy them as key components of their customer experience (CX) strategies, to enable personalized CX at scale.

Making best use of mobile screen size

The smaller screen of mobile devices can make it harder to present a lot of information, or a range of options within a mobile app. By using a chatbot to present relevant information based on the flow of the conversation; previous purchases; live chat history; or current location, customers can avoid endless scrolling on a small screen and be spared the frustration of lengthy form-filling for processes such as onboarding and filing insurance claims

Continuous improvement

By providing simple star-rated feedback within the chatbot experience, brands can gain rapid customer feedback via their mobile apps.

Better use of human resource

Chatbots employ technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing to enable automation of common processes such as requesting documentation, photo ID, reference numbers, onboarding or simply answering FAQs.

Used in this way, chatbots can free customer service agents to work on unique, or higher value cases that rely on human traits such as creativity, empathy and problem solving, which enhance customer experience, reinforce brand values and build relationships.

Reduced costs

According to Juniper Research, chatbots, integrated within mobile banking apps will become the dominant customer communications channel within the next two years. This is based on the analyst firm’s calculation that chat-bot-driven conversations will save 862 million hours of conversations with employees, saving the global banking sector an estimated $7.3 billion by 2023. Juniper also predicts that 79% of successful customer interactions will be handled by chatbots within the next two years.

Elsewhere, Juniper Research found that the insurance sector will also achieve cost savings of almost $1.3 billion by 2023, as property, life, health and motor insurance providers take advantage of chatbot automation of post-incident data collection, and computer vision analysis of documents and incident images uploaded via customers’ mobile devices.

The analyst notes that this not only benefits insurance providers, but also shortens time to settlement for policyholders, leading to improved customer satisfaction and loyalty.

A richer omni-channel approach

Forrester reported that 43% of decision-makers it surveyed in 2020 ranked conversational AI and AI-powered chatbots as their ‘top software priority over the next 12 months, representing an 11% increase since 2019.

My own view is that, rather than replacing their mobile apps with digital assistants, brands will adopt an omnichannel approach, blending mobile apps, with chatbots, messaging apps, and voice, so that they can engage via their customers’ preferred channels and take customers on the full journey from query, to sale, to relationship.

digital assistantsCathal McGloin, CEO, ServisBOT