Chatbots Demystified: breaking new ground for businesses

Forbes calls this The Year Of The Chatbot

and they’re not wrong; chatbots show signs of being here to stay, given emergent trends in consumer needs. Chatbots are beginning to integrate themselves into all aspects of our online lives, and are a design functionality that is poised to enable meaningful ‘one-on-one’ interactions with brands. Chatbots are essentially an interface that makes technology more user-friendly for the average consumer, and makes a brand more easily consumed by a mass market. With the advancements in artificial technology (A.I.), our communicative possibilities with brands have expanded, and most industries have been capitalizing on this era of the conversational interface. Chatbots owe their meteoric rise to the popularity of messaging apps (which people are using more than they use social networks), which now revamps the online user experience to provide a more personalized conversation with largely impersonal brands.

How they work

Apps aren’t really limited to one product or service: basically, the chatbot provides you with an interface that simulates a genuine retail or brand experience while allowing you to bypass actual humans. Chatbots are either scripted or rule-based or use machine learning or natural language processing to function; the latter kind gets smarter through continued conversation, and even understands the natural language of human users. Domino’s allows customers to order pizza through Dom, their pizza ordering app that the customers can tweet a pizza emoji at in order to have their order processed instantaneously. Trulia is a real estate listing company which mobilizes customer engagement via its chatbot that is available through Facebook Messenger; the Trulia bot computes information about a user’s potential living preferences as well as price range, and will provide curated search results that factor in demographic details about a neighborhood. Essentially, a chatbot is a service that you interact with via a chat interface, so it needs a clear brand voice. This means that the content that the bot delivers needs to be consistent with the voice of the brand’s current social media presence, whether it happens to be providing entertainment or utility

Bot-driven social media

Chatbots are either scripted or rule-based or use machine learning or Currently, the future of chatbots looks promising, with an almost unlimited range of applications. For instance, chatbots powered by A.I. transform the relationship between brands and customers; by leveraging social media to deliver a newer kind of service. This service involves delivering information, customer service, and even the ability to make purchases through a chatbot.

Customer service

The use of chatbots can eliminate the most annoying aspects of customer service, since they can be made to understand customer requests based on contextual information and facilitate a solution quickly without putting the onus of the interaction on the user. Facebook integration especially provides a data source unlike any other, which allows these chatbots to deliver context-relevant updates to users that are personalized and tailored to the circumstances of their lives.

The millennial market

An evolving digital experience means that chatbots are more or less the current reality of consumer interaction, and they have an especially responsive audience in millennials. With the real-time, on-demand services that chatbots can offer, millennials receive a customer service that minimizes the more annoying aspects of human interaction.

Curated shopping

The use of chatbots can eliminate the most annoying aspects of customer service, since they can be made to understand customer requests based on contextual information and facilitate a solution quickly without putting the onus of the interaction on the user. Facebook integration especially provides a data source unlike any other, which allows these chatbots to deliver context-relevant updates to users that are personalized and tailored to the circumstances of their lives.

Bots not Apps

What a chatbot offers for brands is the potential to monetize the already existing mobile experience by making the interface conversation in a way that an app just cannot do. Apps are still siloed, which hinders cross-platform communication. Chatbots, on the other hand, can integrate the functionalities of multiple apps and deliver a service based on contextual needs. Ted Livingston, founder of Kik, promises that chatbots are going to be the ‘world’s next great operating system,’ and that chat apps will become the new browsers, with bots as the new websites.

The future of chatbots

While a chatbot offers a way of converting a brand’s social media presence into two-way customer engagement as well as profit while crafting a better user experience, bots are still only an interface that allows users to interact with the service. Chatbots also constitute a large chunk of the future of mobile interactions, but they won’t entirely replace apps. What they will do, however, is to make the online experience intuitive and interactive for customers, while ensuring that brands have access to a rich mine of data that can be mobilized to create a bigger impact.

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