Chatbots are automated services, powered by rules and machine learning, that allow consumers to interact with brands online via a messaging interface, without having to download an app.
Rapid progress in machine learning and natural language processing led to the rapid evolution of voice search and the natural progression will be the rise of the chatbot. Messaging is already widely established, and the popular Messaging platforms such as Slack, Telegram and Facebook Messenger are opening up their platforms to developers and brands. This year we expect to see thousands of chatbot launches to take advantage of these new opportunities and the reduced cost of building bots.
In one chat, a bot can help a customer make a purchase decision, handle payment and notify delivery. Instead of doing this through multiple, separate message threads, all of this happens in the same interface. By mining available data, chatbots can provide a personalised service through the ongoing conversations.
For example, Dutch airline KLM is now using Facebook’s chatbot platform Messenger for Business to communicate with passengers before departure. Customers can ask KLM questions 24 hours a day and in 13 different languages.
Although a good chatbot will give consumers the illusion that they are interacting with another human, we predict it will be years before a bot will fully understand the subtle nuances of human emotion.
What does this mean for brands?
Chatbots enable brands to reduce customer support costs and to open up a direct dialogue with customers, paving the way to new revenue channels. Before brands launch their own bot experiences, they first need to determine who they are trying to reach and define the precise vertical (commerce, content or service) that the bot will operate in. It’s important to focus on a particular product or service to start with. Then, slowly expand the chatbot’s knowledge base by feeding it more relevant information over time. To provide a good user experience, a bot needs to have a good user interface, as well as the intelligence to conduct two-way conversations with a wide audience in real time.
Written by Evelyne Rose at ZenithMedia