If you’ve ever gone to a company’s customer service page and chosen the “chat” option, you’ve probably interacted with a chatbot. Chatbots are everywhere these days as organizations take advantage of technology that can understand and automatically respond to text commands in questions. As chatbot applications become smarter and faster and use cases expand, chatbots could potentially change how people communicate with businesses, access information and make decisions.

A chatbot is a computer program that uses artificial intelligence to comprehend human language in text form and simulate human interaction. In fact, a chatbot can typically respond more quickly, accurately and efficiently than a human. The more data it absorbs, the better it becomes at responding to questions, performing tasks and even strengthening relationships.

The first and most obvious use case for chatbots is customer service. Think of chatbots as contact center agents who never take a break. Organizations can feed data to a chatbot application and define scripted responses based on the most common customer issues, questions and complaints. Using artificial intelligence, the chatbot’s performance will improve over time as it interacts with more customers. Better customer service translates to better customer satisfaction, greater loyalty and increased sales.

Chatbots can also be powerful marketing tools, using data gained throughout the customer journey to deliver specific content and offers to customers. Just like an e-commerce website will recommend products based on your browsing history, chatbots can intelligently identify upsell and cross-sell opportunities and deliver sales messages in a more personal, engaging way. Business transactions can even take place within the chatbot interface. Beyond customer service and marketing, chatbots can streamline and automate a number of administrative tasks, from comparing prices and managing expenses to making travel arrangements and tracking packages.

Chatbots can be especially beneficial in field service. Rather than searching for a customer’s history by navigating a maze of menus, field service technicians could use a chatbot to simply request that information and have it instantly provided. Appointments and meetings can be scheduled automatically without picking up the phone or sending an email. Instead of scheduling appointments based solely on availability, chatbots can optimize appointments based on a number of factors, such as customer needs, weather, traffic and areas of expertise. If technicians get stuck while in the field, they can use chatbots as resources of information.

Chatbots can provide customers with a self-serve option that recommends options for resolving an issue in real time, provides tutorials or automatically orders replacement parts. Chatbots can aid in proactive maintenance and troubleshooting, which would allow field service companies to address issues before the customer knows they exist. These capabilities can dramatically reduce service calls.

Keep in mind that chatbots can juggle multiple customers at the same time and do it far more effectively than humans, which can make it easier to scale without immediately hiring additional field service personnel. All data collected through customer service, the self-serve interface and field service calls can then be analyzed to automate tasks, improve operational efficiency, identify sales opportunities, and provide customers with more personalized service and recommendations.

Chatbots can play a critical role in field service management, technician performance and the overall customer experience. Field service organizations should have chatbots on their radar and recognize their potential to redefine customer service, communication, operations and marketing.