With the help of artificial intelligence and machine learning, a chatbot is a software designed to perform tasks independently without human intervention. This technology is then able to carry on simulated conversations with people providing them with very life-like responses.
Chatbots can mimic human conversation as well as learn and adapt when behaviours change and then improve their performance accordingly. The chatbot market size is expected to reach $1.25 billion by 2025 and roughly 45% of end users prefer this technology as a primary mode of communication for customer service activities.
There are two different chatbots that can be created, this includes rule-based bots and AI bots. Rule-based bots are trained based on a set of rules which helps them respond to simple and common queries. This type produces very restrictive chatbots as they can only answer and respond to a certain number of specific commands.
The second type, AI bots, use machine learning to help them learn from the interactions they have with their users and they can handle a wider range of requests and conversations. They are able to interpret the user’s language to understand what they need.
So why are chatbots so special? They are most often used as virtual assistants in mobile applications for customer service purposes. They can answer simple common questions, book appointments, make recommendations based on previous interests, buy products, connect users to customer service representatives for more complex assistance, send shipping notifications, process credit card payments etc…
Chatbots can also follow-up with customers after purchases are made to make sure they are satisfied or to announce new products and services. The goal is for the chatbot to allow human customer service representatives to focus on the more pressing and complicated matters in need of their attention.
How Are Chatbots Beneficial For Businesses?
Have you ever debated or possibly considered adding a chatbot to your business but were unsure of its benefits? There are many advantageous elements of this technology. Implementing chatbot technology keeps businesses above the tech trends and their fellow competitors. Chatbots can automate customer service processes like answering simple questions in a quick, efficient and timely fashion, ultimately reducing overall wait times. As we mentioned in the introduction, human resources can be left to handle more complex issues and tasks.
This improved customer service experience helps to retain client loyalty long-term, remain organized and guide users to solve their problems. A big benefit to chatbots is that they are available 24/7, providing customers with help that is constantly at their disposal even for after-hours support, gaining access to the information they need even when your business is closed for the day.
On top of the advantages we just mentioned, chatbots are a way to include humour, voice and personality to your business, which adds other elements to your branding efforts. This added personality, which is infused with the company’s core values, can be entertaining while also increasing positive interactions with customers.
What To Consider When Creating Your Own Chatbot
After reading up a little on chatbots and generally how their use can be advantageous in businesses, here we have provided you with a brief outline of what to consider when building and creating a chatbot of your own for your brand.
Define your goal: What will the purpose be for your chatbot? Will it solve customer issues? Promote products? It is important to decide on what kind of content you want your customers to engage with during their interactions with the chatbot. Figure out the questions your users are likely to ask the chatbot and the best possible response combinations. How will the conversations flow?
Choose a platform: There are different possible directions to choose from when building chatbots. They can either be built into messaging platforms like Facebook, Kik, Slack and Telegram or you can create standalone apps in the Apple or Google Play stores. A third option is you can access services like Intercom and Drift to use pre-made chatbots, customize the answers and triggers to your brand, and then integrate it into the company website.
Avoid spamming: Sending a constant stream of messages to users can be annoying and result in negative reviews and ratings. It is important to consider how frequent your chatbot sends messages to users and whether it will only respond when users first initiate a conversation.
Be upfront: It is important to be clear with customers that it is a bot talking to them and not a human representative and then to provide them with ways they can contact and connect with a human agent if the chatbot is not able to help with their issue.
Welcome message: In the very first welcome message sent to users, it is important to remember to avoid cramming in too much information. Providing users with too many options can be overwhelming, and so sticking with only the most essential information for the initial message can be a good start. If the initial message is compelling enough and asks the user pertinent questions, it can hook them in to keep the conversation flowing. And, if your chatbot has longer messages that need to be sent out, make sure they are broken up into smaller parts so users aren’t bombarded with long chat messages in one shot.
Chat interface: Building chatbots are a great opportunity to reflect and promote brand image and values. This can be done by using images, gifs, videos, graphics and other visual content that makes sense for your brand to make the conversation interactive and engaging for customers. Giving the bot a voice brings more personality to the messages and increases conversation and conversion rates.
Industries Using Chatbots
There are several industries using chatbots to their advantage to provide customers with the best possible user experiences with their companies as well as to inspire customer loyalty. Have a look:
Travel and Hospitality
Chatbots in the hospitality industry help to simplify, elevate and personalize travel experiences. They make it easier to book accommodations, order room service, check in or out of rooms, avoid long lines at reception, use concierge services and increase guest loyalty and satisfaction. Guests receive instant responses to their requests and with chatbots taking over routine tasks, it reduces the workload for front desk personnel.
For instance, Marriott has a chatbot to offer customers an additional way to make service requests via text message. These can be requests for basic hotel services, connecting to the front desk and finding out information about the hotel. Customers can even connect with the chatbot when they aren’t physically in the hotel. There is also a Marriott Rewards chatbot available on Facebook Messenger and Slack where rewards members can book travel at more than 4,700 hotels and plan for upcoming stays.
Banking and Financial Services
Virtual banking assistants use natural language and machine learning to create user insights and analyse user profiles so customers receive personalized advice. This personalized communication with clients can assist with wealth management services, loan underwriting, quicker and more efficient transactions, provide custom advice, services and offers, manage customer data and analytics and advise clients on the correct credit and savings financial products.
For example, The Bank of America has a virtual assistant named Erica which can use voice commands and texts, customers can ask for account balances, transfer money between accounts, lock and unlock their debit cards, find past transactions, send money to friends and schedule meetings with bank representatives at their local branch.
Chatbots in retail is like having your own virtual shopping assistant. They are mainly used for helping customers find what they are looking for and to make suggestions and recommendations tailored to their personal preferences, interests and needs. These chatbots also help customers to find products based on recent purchases and browsing history. Here are a few well-known stores using the technology:
- H&M: This chatbot is an interactive shopping experience that can be found on the Kik platform. It is a personal stylist helping to build the perfect outfit, asking questions about the customer’s style and preferences to create the best look. And, if users like what the chatbot has chosen, they can buy the outfit immediately through the bot.
- Sephora: The Sephora chatbot can also be found on the Kik platform. Users begin by taking a quiz about their makeup usage and habits and then the chatbot gives makeup tips and product suggestions. It will also redirect users to the website or app to make purchases.
- Staples: This chatbot can be found in Facebook Messenger. It offers product suggestions based on past purchases and requests and it allows customers to purchase items through the chatbot itself.
News and Media
Adding chatbots to major news and media outlets are a great new way for disseminating content. For example, the CNN chatbot provides breaking news from around the world on Facebook Messenger. Users can type in their interests and receive the latest posts about that topic. It also remembers user preferences and suggests topics they might like. The Wall Street Journal also has a chatbot on Facebook Messenger providing easy access to breaking news. It offers to send daily morning briefings and whether users would like to see current headlines, latest news, company news, today’s market or podcasts.
The combination of the healthcare industry and chatbots provides people with easy access to medical advice. The technology can help to remind people to take their medication and alert them to the different side effects. Chatbots can also diagnose conditions and make sense of a patient’s symptoms as well as offer mood assessments, talk therapy and check-ups on mental health for people who may not have access to counsellors for help. For example, Florence is a chatbot found in Facebook Messenger that checks symptoms, sends medication reminders, finds doctors and provides medical advice.
Chatbots and artificial intelligence are now helping with the revitalization of Indigenous languages, saving them from complete extinction. Language is a way to preserve history, expression, culture and traditions and so now people are leaning on technology as a solution to passing on unique languages to the next generation of speakers so that they will never be forgotten.
Inventions such as the Reobot, which is available through Facebook, can understand and reply to users in te reo Māori, the Indigenous language of New Zealand. It can even understand what the user is trying to say with spelling mistakes. Users can develop the confidence and skills to learn the language and converse with the chatbot to improve.
6 Examples of Successful Chatbots
Now that we have mentioned a few industries implementing chatbots as well as a few well-known companies using the technology, below we mention some of the most successful and impactful chatbots.
Hipmunk: The Travel Assistant
According to the team: “Message us your exact destination and travel dates and Hipmunk will show you bookable flights and hotels instantly! our very own travel assistant can help find where & when to go, based on themes like “romantic”, “adventure”, and “beach”. Your preferences matter! Drill down to non-stop flights, favorite airlines, or cheaper tickets.”
This chatbot can be added to Facebook, Skype and Slack.
Snap Travel: Hotel Deals Over Messaging
According to the team: “Begin a chat with SnapTravel and our AI-powered bot will scour hundreds of sources to find you the best hotel deals. Our bot is backed by a team of human travel agent ninjas available 24/7 over chat. As a bonus, we will call the hotel on check-in day to negotiate a free upgrade on your behalf (subject to availability and approval by the hotel)!”
This chatbot can be used on Facebook Messenger and SMS.
Andy: The English Speaking Bot
According to the team: “Andy will help you learn and practice your English. He will be your personal English teacher and friend. Study language by actually using it in a conversation. Chat, learn new words, study grammar and play language games.”
Hello Joy: Monitoring Your Mental Health
According to the team: “HelloJoy is the easiest way to monitor your mental health. Complete quick daily check-ins to keep track of your positivity, energy, and symptoms. Understand how patterns in your sleep, exercise, and movement can affect how you feel over time. Share symptoms and progress with your clinician for a more personalized care experience.”
Health Tap: Answering Health Queries
The goal with this chatbot is to make healthcare free and accessible to everyone. Users can simply type their symptoms and conditions which will give them access to Health Tap’s database of medical answers. If users cannot find the answers they were looking for, they can be connected with one of Health Tap’s 100,000 doctors who will respond within no more than a day.
This chatbot is available on Facebook Messenger
Weatherman: Forecasting the Weather
According to the team: “Weatherman will tell you the weather in your city. Supports several languages, gives weather for today, tomorrow and 5 days. You can set weather notifications and add this bot to groups.”
This chatbot is available on Telegram.
It is impressive to see how technology like chatbots continues to expand and further provide people with incredible user and customer experiences and inspire long-term brand loyalty. Can you imagine what it will be like when chatbots evolve even further? It will be interesting to see what the future holds.