Chatbots have far-reaching potential for brands looking to personalize their relationships with consumers.
The chatbot growth began in 2016, when technology giants either created their own chatbots or launched a bot development platform. This was after the mobile app rage, when people thought apps might take priority over websites due to the rapid transition to mobile.
It’s 2018, though, and websites are still flourishing. So are chatbots.
Let’s discuss what chatbots are, what they’re good for, and how chatbots will figure into the future of customer service.
What Is a Chatbot?
A chatbot is a service powered by artificial intelligence that interacts with consumers via chat platform. Any service can have a chatbot, and those bots are available on channels such as Facebook Messenger, text messages, Telegram, Slack, and Skype.
Lunch Train is an example of a Slack chatbot that anyone can use.
People can use Lunch Train to plan office lunches.
There are two types of chatbots:
- One that functions using a set of rules
- One that functions using machine learning, otherwise known as artificial intelligence
Here’s how a chatbot could help you order pizza.
Traditional Pizza Order
First, you’d go to your favorite chain’s website. Then you’d select the pizza of your choice, add toppings according to your taste, place the order, pay and wait for it to be delivered.
Chatbot Pizza Order
If your favorite chain had a chatbot, you would simply message it on Facebook or any other chat service. The chatbot would ask you all the required questions and you would type in your answers. Finally, you’d be redirected to Dominos’ payment gateway.
What Makes Chatbots Distinct?
Rather than browsing a store’s website, you have a conversation with their chatbot, which mirrors the personalized experience you normally have when you are at their physical store.
Another part of chatbots’ appeal is how far-reaching their utility is. Here are a few types of chatbots:
- Grocery bot
- Weather bot
- Personal finance bot
- News bot
As you can see, ordering pizza is not the only thing chatbots are useful for.
Why Build Chatbots Over Mobile Apps?
If you consider the rise in messaging app usage, you’ll see the potential for chatbots
People currently are using more messenger apps than social networks, according to BI Intelligence.
Chatbots, then, take advantage of current user behavior.
“People are spending more time in messaging apps than in social media apps, which is a huge turning point,” said Peter Rojas of Betaworks. “Messaging apps are the platforms of the future, and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services.”
If you’re are an online business or a business trying to have a digital footprint, you would want to be present where people are. That place currently is inside messaging apps.
This is the primary reason why building chatbots is crucial. Chatbots have the potential to create new business opportunities for businesses willing to provide their customers with what they want.
Will chatbots replace apps and websites?
A Gartner report predicts that by 2020, over 80% of customer interactions will be managed without humans. A rise in chatbots fits in with this prediction, since chatbots are meant to build profitable customer relationships.
Brands and services want to have a presence in every medium to provide a smooth, easy customer journey. Understanding customer expectations and gathering insights without being obtrusive have always been a challenge, but chatbots might be a solution.
Companies should make themselves available in the context in which users actually spend their time. Recently, users have been spending time on mobile devices, which are convenient ways to get information.
People who use such personal devices would want to access their favorite brands and/or services regardless of the context. Music is a great example of live voice chat conducted through these devices: people who have Siri, Alexa, or Google Home can command their device to start playing the music of their choice.
The Future of Chatbots and AI Customer Service
As AI technology becomes more advanced, brands and services will use it in greater numbers to express themselves to consumers via voice, text, and chatbots.
In the future, chatbots may even replace B2C apps. But for now, chatbots need to be integrated within apps and websites to better serve customers and help brands, businesses, and enterprises stay relevant in this ever-changing digital world.
About the Author
Robby Gupta is the head of US operations for TechJini. He is a chatbot evangelist and has experience working in chatbot development and mobile app development for several industries. He is currently focusing on integrating chatbots with apps and websites; immersive technologies; IoT; and AI bots and their applications in digital enterprise.