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Chatbots - the new growth "apps"
July 21, 2017

What are Chatbots and why are they the future for a business's online presence?

 

 

Imagine an employee who’s available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, who answers your customers’ questions and even motivates them to buy. Well this employee already exists and its name is Chatbot – a name which comes from the fact that you’re “chatting” with a “robot”, usually in text, but increasingly by voice. They are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, theoretically passing the Turing test.

free vector online shopping icon 7964How it works
It works like this: Instead of going to a shop's website or app to search for, say, a blue sweater, simply tell the shop’s chatbot on Facebook that you’re looking for a blue sweater. The bot then suggests a selection of sweaters and asks you for more details until it presents your ideal sweater. This brings “online shopping” closer to the real-life retail experience and means you don’t have to go traipsing around the site or app to do different things – change your account details, buy something or even make a complaint – the bot will do it all.  The bot works automatically using its code and users don’t need to download anything to chat.

Cheaper and more efficient
A key advantage for retailers is that the bot can communicate with many customers at the same time. A chatbot is thus much more efficient and cheaper than an army of staff. However, cheaper and more efficient isn’t always better. Consider this - when we’re buying something we’re usually not annoyed and thus more accepting of dealing with a non-human. However, when we’re seeking help with something, it’s fair to say we’re less likely to accept talking to a machine. This will change as chatbots become ever more accurate and realistic.

learning iconLearning
An interesting development for the future would be the ability of Bots to learn from interactions – understanding a particular person, how they interact and what they like. Although as Microsoft’s Tay showed, by turning into an angry racist over a matter of hours thanks to trolling, this learning is best kept specific to a specific person and used in private interactions. Improved learning, together with more realistic interactions, such as through immersive virtual reality, will make this experience even better than dealing with a real person.

Chatbots are the future
blue heading icons futureAlthough the technology isn’t yet particularly wide spread, almost every company will have their own chatbot in the near future. Messaging apps show a steady growth in user numbers and Facebook Messenger is already used by more than 1 billion people. And since the most effective marketing is where your potential customers are, it makes sense to focus on Chatbots.

Indeed, the future of communication with your customers belongs to the chatbots. Successful orders, automatic returns, answering frequently asked questions, this and much more will be taken over completely by the smart bots in the next few years. So why not be at the top now. So, although the technology is still in its infancy, it may be a smart move to beat the curve and get in early.