A chatbot is a computer program designed to interact with people. It is capable of simulating seamless conversations with customers and typically exists on channels like Facebook Messenger, Siri, WeChat, Telegram, SMS, Slack, Skype and many others. Chatbots are transforming the way people interact with the internet – from a series of self-initiated tasks to a quasi-conversation.
Types of Chatbots
There are basically two types of chatbots: one that functions based on a set of rules, and a more advanced version that uses machine learning or artificial intelligence. A chatbot that functions based on rules can only respond to specific commands. The other type functions using artificial intelligence and gets smarter as it learns from different conversations it has.
Examples of Chatbots
More and more people are starting to use chatbots. Virtually any website or app can be turned into a bot. Here are some interesting examples of how chatbots are used right now:
- Weather Bot – Allows you to get weather updates whenever you ask.
- News Bot – Helps you stay up to date on the news or topics that matter to you.
- Scheduling Bot – Allows you to schedule a meeting with someone on the Messenger team at Facebook.
- Product Suggestion Bot – Offers product suggestions based on what you want (color, style, etc.)
- Finance Bot – Lets you check in on your account, such as your current balance and most recent transactions.
- Customer Support Bot – Provides answers and addresses customer complaints, or simply tracks the status of an order.
- Pizza Ordering Bot – Allow you to easily build a new pizza (or reorder your favorite pizza) and track your order.
These are just a few examples of how people are currently using chatbots. There are almost limitless possibilities for what can be done with them.
Chatbots for Business
Many people are using chatbots for their business. Even small business owners are now using artificial intelligence (AI) innovation to improve their daily operations, connect with consumers and increase sales.
However, not all businesses are the same. It is ideal to have a chatbot if your business falls into any of the following categories:
1. Receives many requests that are similar to each other
You can gather the typical questions that your employees have to answer over and over again and create a chatbot to answer those common questions. Most ecommerce stores employ chatbots to provide details on return policies, warranties, and related information.
2. Sells products that are low involvement
Low involvement goods and services don’t require much time and effort on the part of the consumer to make a decision, such as cosmetics, food items, and common household items. Customers typically don’t spend a lot of time comparing the features of these products. Therefore, you can have a bot that immediately understands what the customer wants and offers suggestions without human interaction.
3. Is in a highly competitive niche
Customers will most likely choose the vendor that makes it easier to get a product. You can have a bot that can provide information any day or time of the week. Plus, many customers prefer not to speak over the phone these days.
5 Ways Chatbots Improve Your Business
Chatbots are gaining popularity among entrepreneurs particularly because companies can use them to help improve the many different aspects of their business. These include using:
1. Chatbot for Better Customer Experience
A chatbot can provide customer service, present product recommendations and engage customers through marketing campaigns. Many consumers prefer chatbots because they are easy to use and tend to be less invasive and faster than calling a representative on the phone. It can be really frustrating for a customer to ask a question or file a complaint, and then receive no response for days. The simple act of giving your customers an automated acknowledgement, even if it’s just a chatbot, can go a long way.
2. Chatbot for Conversational Commerce
Conversational commerce is a buzzword surrounding AI chatbot technology. It simply refers to purchasing an item within the context of a conversation with a chatbot. By having a dialogue with a program that learns and stores information, your customers can place orders with fewer steps than before. Chatbots are effectively changing today’s online user experience, moving users away from complex websites and apps to a simplified command-line interface.
3. Chatbot for Personal Assistance
Small business owners are harnessing AI technology through personal assistant tools. It’s now more practical to text a friendly AI assistant than to access a lot of different apps for secretarial tasks such as making hotel reservations, scheduling appointments, or ordering office supplies.
4. Chatbot for Project Management
Chatbots can also help you manage tasks and projects. Almost all major messaging platforms feature chatbots that automate team communication and reporting, as well as time and expense tracking. You can ask them questions like what tasks are assigned to you or who is assigned to a particular project. There are plenty of bots to choose from. There’s Slack chatbot Talla the Task Assistant that can manage your to-do lists and send you reminders. You can also talk to Busybot or Asana to help manage your daily tasks.
5. Chatbot for Data Gathering and Analysis
The artificial intelligence aspect of many chatbots is a beneficial tool for small businesses. While chatbots are mostly intended for customer interaction, companies can analyze the data collected by chatbots. Eventually, businesses can tailor their products and services to meet their clients’ needs. As AI technology becomes more sophisticated, the power of the analytics behind them grows as well, making chatbots a great resource for businesses.
How to Build a Chatbot
There are plenty of tools available that make building a chatbot easier. You’ll need to figure out what problem you want to solve with your bot, choose which platform your bot will live on (Facebook, Slack, Telegram, etc.), set up a server to run your bot from, and select which service you will use to create your bot.
If you’re planning to jump on the chatbot bandwagon, here are 5 popular platforms for you to check out.
You can now build your own bot directly through FB Messenger’s landing page. There are plenty of resources (guides, case studies, forum for Facebook developers, and more) that FB Messenger provides to help you create a brand new chatbot in no time.
This platform is ideal for creating an AI chatbot on Facebook with integrated Facebook commerce. No coding is required. You can make a simple customer service bot or integrate it with Shopify to monetize your Facebook fan pages.
It’s one of the top tools to build a conversational Messenger bot. Both skilled developers and non-developers can use it via a series of easy to follow steps. You can easily create conversational scenarios and build advanced dialogues for more seamless conversations.
You can build a bot in Telegram that you can easily run in the application itself. The company has open-sourced their chatbot code to make it easy for third-parties to integrate and create their own bots.
This conversational platform for multichannel messaging features chatbot automation and allows you to add payments to conversations. It supports channels like Messenger or Viber, and sells products in conversations using Stripe, and more.
For a comparative table of more chatbot platforms, you can visit this page.
Bottom Line: Chatbots
Chatbot capabilities are increasing from day to day. Chatbots are becoming more and more intelligent and businesses are able to use them in many interesting ways. After reading this article, you may already be considering how a smart bot can help you grow your business.