Serious question: how do you know that the person with whom you are chatting in customer service is actually a person?If you are using a chat interface, the odds are shrinking that it’s an actual human being on the other end. Chatbots are a real thing, and they’re being used by a growing list of companies both for promotional and customer service purposes.
A few examples:
● Universal Studios promoted their horror film Unfriended with a Facebook Messenger bot speaking in the character of Laura Barnes
● Basketball fans can chat with NBA’s Facebook Messenger bot to receive game highlights and updates
● TacoBot on Slack helps people order Taco Bell for lunch
According to Paul Walsh, the founder of bCRM, a chatbot campaign management tool, “Chatbots are very simple software programs that are installed and fully integrated inside Messenger Services such as Facebook Messenger, Kik and Skype, with chatbots also being installed inside internal messenger services such as Slack, HipChat and more.
“Consumers now spend more time inside messenger services than they do on social networks so being able to access a service like Uber, or read The Drum inside their preferred messenger app without having to leave the app provides a seamless and uninterrupted experience.”
The wrong way to think about chatbots is simply with regards to what they do now. The right way is to think of them as an ideal opportunity to learn a new – and potentially better – way to support interactions between brands and individual consumers.
Until now, it simply wasn’t economically feasible to conduct ongoing conversations with one customer at a time… or to learn from these interactions. But chatbots make both feasible.
As chatbots become more intelligent – for example, as they start to leverage artificial intelligence to understand more of what each customer is saying – many more applications will be possible. When that happens, your brand should already possess deep understanding of – and expertise with – bots.
To use a simple example of the utility bots currently support, Hostbot allows owners of short-term vacation rentals to automatically answer common guest questions via text messages. So if your guest wants to know “what restaurants do you recommend?”, your chatbot can answer and you never have your evening interrupted. Brands can harness exactly the same functionality.
Walsh says that “Chatbots are pretty easy to build when you use frameworks and platforms like Botkit, Howdy, Pullstring and Pandorbots.” Whether or not you take that step now, it’s well worth your time to follow these four links and start to understand what chatbots are all about.
For example, the Pandorbots site says that its service has been used to create more than 285,000 chatbots. Each one is teaching consumers about the usefulness of chatbots, and your brand should be learning, too.