What are chatbots?
Chatbots are part of a generation of applications that have enabled their users to talk to artificial intelligence (AI) systems. Just like you use apps to talk to your friends, you can also talk to bots who will do chores for you.
Chatbots promise to be a new gateway for content in the digital world. They are already used by giants like Facebook, Google, Apple and IBM.
Every company that has a strategic message to communicate will need a scalable solution to do it. Chatbots allow companies to converse with thousands of people in an automated, personalized and instantaneous way.
Why create a chatbot?
Ever thought about taking advantage of an estimated 1.81 billion mobile phone messenger app users? Undoubtedly businesses can get much closer to their customers by having a conversation with them on one of the most popular messaging apps like Facebook or Whatsapp.
Users do not need to download any new applications as chatbots are available through existing applications for which users already have an account. Also, they do not need to get accustomed to a new UI as they already know how to use the application.
Just Facebook Messenger already has more than 100,000 bots available for user interaction.
Types of chatbots
- Transactional: allows the user to carry out e-commerce transactions, track or place orders.
- Customer service: allows full engagement with the company and the request for services, such as check in for an airline or change the details of the flight.
- Thematic: brings up the latest news or information on topics of interest.
- Entertainment: offers content for fun and humor, such as talking to a character in a comedy series.
The Uber chatbot on Facebook Messenger allows users to hail a ride and sign up for Uber without even downloading the app.
Now it is even easier to get a ride. Simply open a Facebook chat with Uber and tap the small car icon to get started. The social aspect of Facebook gives new powers to Uber. Using group chats on Messenger, users can send information about rides to their friends, co-workers and family. Furthermore, requesting a ride in a chat group allows other participants to immediately see all the information, so the stress of being a group organizer is diminished.
What makes a bot intelligent?
After the first wave of successful personal assistants like Siri, Google Now, Alexa and Cortana, users have the perception that AI is smart when they can ask simple questions and have a relevant answer. A good user experience gives value to your brand.
Artificial intelligence has the capacity to feel, think and act.
- Feel – collect information (user interaction).
- Think – store and analyze the information (database).
- Act – convert stored information to interpret the environment and evaluate it to come up with an answer or take a decision (algorithms and scripts).
What sets a bot apart is its ability to collect and store information, to take decisions based on that information, and to provide relevant responses quickly and efficiently.
Successful bots are those that have a clever platform and are designed to solve a real-world problem. There are endless possibilities for the future of chatbots, but they need a purpose that allows the user to get the most out of the interactions.
Practices applied in bot development
Get to know your audience
While this is true for any product, it is especially true for bots. You cannot make a chatbot for all messaging platforms so you should pick one based on you target audience. Slack users are professionals and an older crowd. Facebook users are typically older as well, but they are using the social network primarily for entertainment. Telegram users are also professionals while Kik users are predominantly teenagers.
A successful bot will have a clear function, you do not try to make your bot do everything. Your chatbot should be created for a specific reason and solve that a problem effectively. If it performs to many tasks, your users will not find what they were looking for and your bot will be unnecessary.
Dankland, a Facebook Messenger bot that turns photos to memes, is a good example of this. The experience is clear and it does not try to be anything else than a meme generator.
After a nice introduction: “Hello, I am Tripto, your assistant for hotel reservations”. You have to educate the public about what your bot is capable of doing: “I can compare prices, find deals and book your hotel”. When completing a task, be proactive and offer to run another.
Chatbots are successful when they exist within a social interaction. When a user in a group mentions a chatbot, it is directly added into the group chat, and all members of that chat can see how that chatbot works.
The future of chatbots is still uncertain, but there is every indication that it will be a technology increasingly used by brands and users. The development of Artificial Intelligence based on learning according to its interaction with the user will contribute to make our relationship with these virtual minds more natural and more common.