Chatbots! They're all the rage and it seems like every marketer wants to embrace them. But what are they? And why is every business suddenly getting hot on this A.I. trend? Brace yourself, for the bots are coming.
Without a doubt, you have come in contact with some form of chatbot in recent history. A chatbot is a computer interface that is built around a conversation. They are available 24/7 and are a great way to quickly reply to simple questions, even if there is no human connection available. Chatbots sometimes serve a single purpose, while others are fully-fledged digital assistants. So let's get down to the chitty chatty of Chatbots.
Here's a simple reason you need chatbots in your life? To simulate a more interactive and user-centered experience for the customer.
What are Chatbots?
Chatbots are programs built to automatically engage with received messages. Chatbots can be programmed to respond the same way each time, to respond differently to messages containing certain keywords and even to use machine learning to adapt their responses to fit the situation.
Chatbots leverage chat mediums like SMS text, website chat windows and social messaging services across platforms like Facebook and Twitter to receive and respond to messages.
Facebook recently released a host of data proving the value of bots for business:
- 2 billion messages are sent between people and businesses monthly
- 56% of people would rather message than call customer service
- 53% of people are more likely to shop with businesses they can message
While they aren’t a new business tool, the utilisation of chatbots has certainly gained momentum in the last few years. Data from Google Trends shows over the last five years, search volume around “chatbots” grew 19x as individuals and businesses began to realise their value.
But the questions then become: What types of business bots exist? How do bots save time and create a better experience? What do end-users want to achieve when using these bots?
Why you need Chatbots for your Business?
Chatbots represent a great opportunity for businesses to reach customers where they already are, in the messaging apps. Chatbots allow businesses to deliver services in a highly personalized manner where the message, operations and human support can be combined in one experience.
Chatbots can be used in many different ways, which is the reason why it’s difficult to define exactly what they are. It is actually possible to come up with a chatbot use case for every single business or industry, in the same way that every business or industry can use a website or app.
The following are some examples of chatbot applications out of the infinite possibilities:
- A takeaway restaurant allowing customers to order from a chatbot, either in the store or at home.
- A sit-down restaurant allowing customers to order food from their table using a chatbot.
- A retail store offering promotions for customers in the shopping mall via the chatbot.
- A marketing campaign that asks customers questions or allows them to play a game using a chatbot.
- A chatbot that helps customers make e-commerce purchases.
- A chatbot that answers customer services questions.
- A chatbot that monitors employees or customer’s satisfaction
- A chatbot that allows customers to book flights and receive relevant information when they are in the airport.
All the above examples of chatbots could allow human agents to get involved in the conversation if necessary, perhaps as a premium service.
Why are Chatbots Important?
You are probably wondering “Why does anyone care about chatbots? They look like simple text-based services… what’s the big deal?”
Great question. I’ll tell you why people care about chatbots.
It’s because for the first time ever people are using messenger apps more than they are using social networks.
Let that sink in for a second.
People are using messenger apps more than they are using social networks.
The Roundup on Chatbots
In the same way that apps can be considered the successor to websites, bots can be considered the successor to native apps. Though just as websites haven’t disappeared, neither will apps. Bots are suited to the way we are increasingly interacting with our phones, in short bursts, while cautious of our data usage and the irritating ‘Your storage is almost full’ notifications.’ They fulfil a different function to mobile web and apps, more casual than apps, more personalised than websites.
At the moment, they are definitely at the peak of inflated expectations yet there has not been enough clear information regarding their potential to offset the hype created by people’s sci-fi imagination running wild. Customer service seems to be most ripe for disruption at the moment due to its repetitive nature. It’s likely that as companies get comfortable with using bots in this context they will start to branch out and explore more outbound marketing uses. So now is the time to start embracing them, in order to be ahead of the rise in conversational UI but keep it simple, don’t get drawn into the hype, make sure users are well prompted on how the bot functions and they could become a valuable part of your business.
For more info and data on Chatbots check out:
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