As futurist it may sound, bots are a thing currently, and you probably got in touch with plenty of them. Just think of the rise of self-checkout at grocery stores and ordering kiosks at restaurants. For example, Amazon just opened a store without a single cashier or self-checkouts; the human interaction is here limited to an absolute minimum. The automatization is taking over all fields of business, and yours should be different.

Another History Lesson

When we go to the whole beginning, the word robot 🤖 was firstly used by Czech author Karel Čapek in his satire game R.U.R., and since then it stands for a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically.

A chatbot is a differentiated kind of robot. To put it very simply, this bot is software that can have a conversation with a human. It is a computer program that automates specific tasks, in our case chat with a user through a conversational interface.

The term “ChatterBot” – chatbot was initially invented by Michael Mauldin back in 1994 to describe these conversational programs. From a technological point of view, chatbots are nothing else than a natural evolution of a Question Answering system leveraging Natural Language Processing.

Is The Future (Chat)Botic?

It looks like it is. At least according to the last trends and predictions.

The way people communicate is changing dramatically in the last decades. Especially when it comes to the internet and its 24/7 online status allowing us to connect with others anytime or anywhere we wish. Real-time messaging became a standard, and for example, Drift’s State of Conversational Marketing report found that people from all 195 countries are using online chat to start conversations on business websites.

In the last 12 months, according to a different survey, 15 % of consumers have used chatbots to communicate with the business. Moreover, the trend is expected to grow in the future as you can see more and more big brands invest in technology and there are some indisputable arguments in favor of chatbots.

Chatbot vs. Human

We are still not that much worried about the future when robots will take over humans, but chatbots are most probably going to rule the online conversations. In fact, they can be as good or better than conversing with an actual human. Here is why:

  • Chatbots are available 24/7.
  • They are super-fast and save time. Automated answers prevent pointless waiting for customer’s questions.
  • Chatbots save money; their use is cheaper than hiring a person.
  • They “know” a lot – bots have access to a vast array of information and functionality.
  • They perform a lower error rate. Unfortunately, humans are doing so much worse when it comes to an error rate. Let’s be completely honest here, to err is human.

A study from 2017 is answering the question, why people are using chatbots. According to the researchers, those are the answers:

  • Productivity – once again, chatbots are a quick and efficient way to provide information.
  • Entertainment – people enjoy chatbots giving them funny tips, or helping to kill time when users have nothing to do.
  • Social and relational factors – chatbots enhance social experiences and even help to avoid loneliness. Some appreciate the chance to talk without being judges and space to improve conversational skills.
  • Curiosity – chatbots are new, and people simply want to explore what it’s like to talk to them.

On the other hand, there are still some expectations chatbots still cannot fulfill. The biggest misconception is the one almost all of us do – to suppose chatbot is a bot made to converse with a human in the way that another human would do. That’s just not possible (even though plenty of sci-fi movies tell opposite) and only leads to unrealistic expectations.

So no, no sci-fi scenario is happening here, yet your business and communication with the customer can gain a lot out of using chatbots too. Let’s see where it works best!

The Types Of Chatbots

Chatbots are programmed to respond differently to messages containing certain keywords and to use machine learning to adapt their responses to fit the situation. But not every chatbot is the same. Depending on how bots were programmed, we can divide them into two categories – those working according to pre-prepared commands (single chatbots) and trained (smart or advanced chatbots).

  • Simple chatbots are based on pre-written keywords and react only to them in the way the commands where written. If a user doesn’t use any of those keywords, the robot can not understand the message.
  • Smart chatbots on the other side rely on artificial intelligence; they respond with adequate suggestions on the topics instead of using pre-prepared answers. Besides that, all the words said by customers are recorded for later processing.

The most advanced bots can understand complex requests, personalize responses and improve interactions over time.

When Should I Consider Using Chatbots?

Automatization is one of the terms describing the current era, and for business, it’s one way to stay competitive – to automate as much as possible. Communication makes no difference. Both start-ups and big brands bet on integrating bots into different fields of their work.

According to Drift’s research, the most common situation people take advantage of using chatbots is customer service (quick answer or help solving one’s problem), reservations, paying or shopping.

Chatbots And Social Media

Bots can be used around the web, on websites, social media or in messaging apps. For example, Facebook Messenger has lots of bots, developed specifically for the platform. At the moment, 100 000 bots are active in the app to collect information, make product recommendations or take orders.

Do you need your business a Messenger chatbot? The answer here is pretty simple. If your audience/customers are using Messenger, then you should go for it. This way you can connect to potential customers, automate customer engagements and interactions and more – the same works with Twitter.

Chatbots are like a natural follow-up to your content strategy aiming to build a strong relationship with your customers. Real-time conversation, available 24/7 and modified for your brand with a touch of a joke is becoming a standard you may want to provide your customers, fans or followers. The beginning of increasing the human experience is simple – proactively greeting people, reply as quick as possible, and better guidance as well as using emojis and personalizing the experience can take your social media strategy to another level.

“I think chatbots are the future of engagement between a fan and a brand or celebrity.”

Christina Milian