What is A Chatbot?
A chatbot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. The service could be any number of things, ranging from functional to fun, and it could live in any major chat product (Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.).
Chatbots the Future?
What do Mattel, Apple, and Facebook have in common? They’re all exploring the latest AI trend, transforming weak AI chatbots into cutting-edge, conversation-based interfaces. Mattel has Hello, Barbie!; Apple has Siri; and Facebook, which has Facebook M (similar to Siri) is also turning its Messenger app into a complete platform that supports chatbots created by partnering companies.
Chatbots in Business
While Facebook expands its chatbot services, Google is also reportedly working on a chatbot messaging service that can offer assistant-like support via a messaging platform. Other major players in the chatbot arena include Kik, WeChat, and Microsoft. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella referred to the development of chatbots as a way to create “conversation as a platform.” The ultimate goal of chatbots is to replace the most common interfaces we use on computers and in connected devices. Here are some of the potential business benefits:
- Fully scalable customer service. Developed chatbots may completely disrupt the customer service department. Instead of interacting directly with consumers, customer service representatives may work to optimize the chatbot experience and provide human interaction only when necessary. This could be particularly useful for smaller companies with limited human capital, which could use chatbots to engage with more consumers without allocating additional personnel. .
- Improved customer intelligence. In addition to reaching more customers, chatbots can log and store key data points, which companies can then use to personalize the purchasing experience and optimize product development. .
- More competitive small businesses. Cloud computing and remote services give small businesses access to the same competitive resources large companies have used for years, such as video conferencing and big data analytics. Likewise, chatbots that undertake routine tasks become “extra employees,” thus freeing up SMB personnel to work on strategic business functions, which can contribute to accelerated growth rates. .
- A different navigational experience. Instead of finding information via a search tab or drop down menu, chatbots may open the door for conversation-based interfaces. And, companies can use the resulting feedback to optimize websites more quickly. The effect may be similar to the shift away from “like” buttons to more granular emoji-based reactions. We’re entering the age of context—a simple thumbs-up won’t cut it when we expect digital interaction to be more human and less text-based. .
- More personalized marketing and sales. Conversation-based engagement creates a feeling of connectivity and can improve customer relationships with a brand. Marketing and sales departments can capitalize not only on the data collected via chatbots but from the ability to create highly effective campaigns that improve customer loyalty and edge out competition.
“Many businesses already have phone trees and they do work though most users get grumpy using them. Text based response trees are much easier and faster and that is what I expect a lot of early bot interactions to be. Sometimes with ability to chat with a live person.” — Josh Elman, Partner at Greylock.
“Messaging is where we spend a ton of our time and expect to communicate. It is ridiculous we still have to call most businesses.” — Josh Elman, Partner at Greylock.