‘Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services.’- Peter Rojas, Entrepreneur in Residence at Betaworks cited in Chatbot Magazine.
The first time I used a chatbot, it was Gearbest’s bot. I was on their e-commerce platform and was considering making a purchase. It was my first day at the site, I just discovered it, and didn’t know anyone else who has used the platform. I had a couple of questions and would have sent a mail. You all know it could take forever(a day or two or even more) for my mail to be answered, regardless of the fact that I could get an automated mail response acknowledging the receipt of my mail. At least, that has been my experience with other platforms. Time wasn’t what I had at the time and I needed answers ASAP. So, I headed to Messenger hoping to get answers.
While preparing for this piece, I had to make sure I conversed with other chatbots. Slack’s offered answers just as I would have it. My experience with TENEIGHTYBOTS’ surveybot was a bit funny; but, was worthwhile. Then I met KLM Royal Dutch Airlines chatbot and MotivateBot and my favourite chatbot, Chase from ChatBot Nation.
Peter Lisoskie, the man behind ChatBot Nation in his chatbot guide defined chatbot as a ‘software service using rules and sometimes artificial intelligence that interacts with message inputs from a user on a major chat platform like Facebook, Messenger, Slack, Kik, Telegram or Text Messages’. TENEIGHTYBOTS sees chatbots as an ‘automated way to guide the conversation with your online or mobile customer, whether she’s on Facebook, or Skype, or even your own website’. Nitish Gautam in an article for AMEYO defined chatbots as ‘a computer program that virtually interacts with users using a messaging app/platform’.
I could go on and on providing definitions of chatbots. Remember ever having to visit your favourite site and getting an “I’m online, how can I help you?” pop up? Never had an experience? Then, head to Messenger and search for your favourite brand, they most likely have a bot which could be named or not. The bots which are automated and programmed to respond to certain questions or providing specified assistance would respond to you based on the programming. This goes to say that a chatbot is a computer program (artificial intelligence) that offers 24/7 virtual interaction to mobile customers and prospects on messaging apps and other online platforms.
The need for chatbots arises with the increasing usage of messaging apps and platforms. Now, for the first time, there are more users of messaging platforms than the users of social media platforms. Presently, there are over 2.5 billion people worldwide using one messenger app or the other. Over 1.6 billion of this people use Facebook Messenger. This is more like the total number of people using Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat.
Need I say more? With chatbots, brands have a fresh way to interact with their customers. The use of chatbots to improve customer experience is just the same as going where customers go. In 2018, customer experience accounts for so much. The good thing is that chatbots can be used in lead generations, and making conversions and sales (What else do you have your business for?).
In a world where speed matters so much, having to wait for an email response isn’t what a lot of us would want to do. Why do I even have to take so much time to draft emails in the good ol’ way, when I can hit up your brand on messenger? According to Ubisend’s Mobile Messaging Report:
- 51% of people expect a business to answer questions 24/7.
- 53% of people are likely to buy from a business they can contact via messaging.
- 70% of users would prefer initial contact with a company by messaging.
What are you then waiting for? Can we reach your brand from any messaging app or do we have to wait till ‘his kingdom come’ to have you, respond to us?
P.S: One of the present challenges of chatbots is that because they are automated, they can only respond to certain inputs from users. A true revolution would come when chatbots would be able to semantically understand conversations and provide solutions.