What is a chatbot?
You’ve likely heard of them or even seen them in action. According to a recent study, as many as 38% of respondents say they’ve used online chat in the past year, and 28% say they’ve engaged with a business on social media.
A chatbot is, “a computer program designed to stimulate conversation with human users.”
Their primary purpose is to initiate conversations and interactions between people and brands to create one-on-one relationships. The rise of conversational agents has been rapidly growing over the years. Millions tell Siri or Alexa or Google Assistant to add events to their calendar or play music or send a text. Bots learn from past interactions and become smarter over time.
How can businesses use chatbots to their advantage?
For one, chatbots can increase customer engagement. Customers and prospects can reach them in familiar environments which leads to faster responses and quicker answers. Streamlining and automating common and repetitive tasks through text or voice commands can improve efficiency and reduce excess time.
On-demand, live, 24/7 chat is one of the many benefits that chatbots offer. While you may not have real, live-chat support agents 24 hours a day, chatbots provide customers the opportunity to get answers anytime. They also have access to a broad array of information.
There are infinite possibilities for chatbot application. It’s possible to come up with a chatbot use case for every single business, just like using a website or app. Some examples of chatbot applications include:
- Resolving a complaint/problem
- Finding a human customer service agent
- Getting a quick answer in an emergency
- Making a reservation, e.g., restaurant or hotel
- Paying a bill
Types of Chatbots
There are a variety of chatbots currently. These include:
- Simple, scripted chatbots — scan the keywords in a customer’s search to deliver pre-determined answers.
- AI- and ML-powered — chatbots use natural language processing to create more complex responses. These bots actively learn from conversations and improve over time.
Facebook Messenger chatbots have become a staple of social media chat. Users can search for companies and bots inside of Facebook Messenger by name. You can also provide Messenger links and Messenger Codes to consumers, which will direct them to your chatbot. Learn how you can build your own Facebook chatbot in 10 minutes here.
Potential Obstacles of Using Chatbots
While chatbots are likely the way of the future, some consumers aren’t ready to abandon human interaction entirely. Some of these concerns include:
- Wanting to interact with an actual human
- Worrying about the chatbot making a mistake
- Lack of proper, convenient access
How Chatbots are Currently Being Used
Several brands, both large and small, are utilizing chatbots on their websites and social media.
Through the Facebook Messenger app, Slack app, or Amazon Echo, you can request a ride, follow the current location of your driver, and learn the license plate and car model of your driver.
In the first two months of 1–800-Flower.com’s chatbot release, they reported that 70% of its Facebook Messenger orders were from new customers. This chatbot streamlines online purchasing.
Spotify is another app that uses Facebook Messenger as its primary chatbot. Through the chatbot, you can easily search for, listen to, and share music. You’ll also get playlist recommendations based on your mood or what you’re doing.
Fandango has a Facebook Messenger chatbot that allows you to find local theaters and movie times and can send you to the proper page to buy movie tickets.
Starbucks’ chatbot is built into its mobile app. You can place an order via voice, pay via linked credit/gift card, and send an order pick-up request to a nearby store.
Brands are just learning and utilizing the ins and outs of chatbots. It will be interesting to see how chatbots and voice technology work together to create better customer experience for both B2B and B2C brands.