Chatbots – What are they?

Everyone is jumping on the Chatbot bandwagon, and this is thanks to the advancement of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, but did you know that some of the bigger companies are investing in Chatbots as well? Facebook and Microsoft see potential in the future of AI and Chatbots, and they’ve established long-term strategic initiatives to help build frameworks and support for Chatbots. But what really is a Chatbot? And what qualifies them beyond simple bots, or communication channels?

What is a Chatbot?

If we really break it down, Chatbots are artificial intelligence machines designed to simulate real experiences for customers. Chatbots are primarily designed for communication, so when it comes to how they’re being used, it’s to facilitate conversations across multiple differing but similar contexts. Whether it’s interaction with a sales person (online purchases), customer service, delivery of news, or updates to local weather warnings, Chatbots can do almost anything. The only limit (besides technology), is what you think it can do.

How are they Being Used?

More and more businesses are investing in Chatbots to help reduce overheads in customer service, drive more opportunities to provide customers with value and identify opportunities to collect feedback. Across the globe, we’ve noted some key ways that businesses across many industries are leveraging Chatbots to deliver more value to their customers. Ultimately, these people are leading the charge in empowering their customers via technology.

  • Ecommerce – Domino’s are using a Chatbot to facilitate pizza orders, eliminating the need to phone someone at the store, which gives them more freedom to actually design and create pizzas.
  • Health Woebot delivers counselling to millions of people across the world, and managed to decrease anxiety and depression within a controlled experiment.
  • Banking – Capital One have developed a SMS Chatbot that has been praised for it’s AI in helping customers with banking needs and account enquiries.
  • Education Nerdy Bot answers homework queries for students, and helps in particular with mathematical questions (helping students plot graphs, looking up complex definitions, etc.).
  • Tourism – TripAdvisor has developed a Chatbot that aims to make travel easier by providing hotel, attraction or restaurant information/reviews on the fly.

Our Top Tips for Building a Chatbot

When the time comes to build a Chatbot, you’ll want to do it right (it’s a big-time investment), and so our top tips (that we see as key for success) revolve around the groundwork for developing a Chatbot, and what comes once it’s been launched.

  • Match a customer need to the technology – Look at the customer journey (and not just at acquiring customers), your target market and the technology they use.  I guarantee you’ll find an opportunity to slot in a Chatbot that helps deliver more value to your customers.
  • Do some research – Ecommerce customers might appreciate receiving shipping notifications by SMS instead of email, but you’ll only find out if you do some research into how your customers prefer communication (across your business offerings and services).
  • The project never ends – Once you build a Chatbot, you are only just getting started, now you can begin optimising how it works, look at how it can be improved, and gather feedback on what additional functionality your users are interested in. The project doesn’t end because it has been launched, now is where you can go even further and start to explore even more ways you can deliver value to your customers.

If you’re interested in learning more about Chatbots or our capabilities in the area, get in touch with one of our consultants to find out more – we love to chat(bot) all things digital.