The hottest social and customer service feature of 2018 will be the chatbot, as huge growth among businesses continues and user acceptance soars. Companies need to know what they are getting into when it comes to the technology and what the true benefits are, without falling for the tech merchant’s hype.
Many new areas of technology see chatbots mentioned alongside them. The term is already synonymous with conversational AI, but the likes of digital meshes, which blends physical and virtual environments, social and home robots, and the nebulous “agent” concept all use chatbots as part of their set of features.
This degree of in-depth technology and hype might make it seem as though chatbots are a complex or far-out technology. So, perhaps, it comes as a surprise that they are already popular among banks, travel booking sites, and are increasingly being used for customer support and even medical triage. Chatbots are here, now and not waiting for these avant garde technologies.
Organisations around the world are increasingly using chatbot technologies for a growing variety of user experiences. Customers are seeing these in new places, as they move beyond basic chat and customer service into commerce, health and insurance use cases, where there is some contractual or legal weight to the outcome of the chat.
Chatbots are driving disruption and transformation in these customer interactions. Human resources are increasingly using them for HR tasks internally to save time and help new hires access information more quickly.
Bots also provide a new angle to encourage users to interact. Most people have limited space for apps on their phones, so using Facebook Messenger or piggybacking on Skype is one way to deliver a chatbot without excessive overheads, or the need to redevelop an existing app.
Whatever the use case, the key to any business success is to develop a chatbot early with a fixed purpose in mind. Having planned what the bot does, and what questions it will ask, and covered all the possible answers, the next step is development.
To get started, companies can use one of a wide range of chatbot tools, with more arriving on the market. But unlike app or website design, there need not be a major expense or even particularly time consuming.
For example, SnatchBot is totally free service offering cloud-based script design, deployment to app, website or social media and analytics, making it a compelling contender for best chatbot platform. Other services come with various premium features while big players like Salesforce and IBM offer their chat packages to customers.