Why use a chatbot?

*Victor Cadenas Digital Marketing and Technology Professional

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The end of 2015 marked an important event in the history of applications. For the first time, the number of users of the 4 most popular chat apps (WhatsApp, Messenger, WeChat and Viber) exceeded the number of users on the 4 most important social networks (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn). But very few gave due importance to this fact, as chats were simple message-sharing applications. Then in April 2016, Facebook announced support for chatbots integration and deployment at its annual conference (F8). This announcement marked the beginning of a new period: the era of chatbots.

By the end of 2016, there were 192 chatbot startups and Venture Capital’s investments reached $227 million in this area. The number of chatbots available on Facebook Messenger grew from 34,000 in the first six months to 100,000 by April 2017. There are thousands of chatbots available on other platforms such as Kik, Slack and Skype. You’ll ask yourself: why so many chatbots? What do chatbots do? where can I use them?

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“There is an app for that” had its moments of glory. The demotivation to download more mobile applications (apps) and the adoption of conversational platforms has created a new space and now chatbots are the “new apps”. Like all disruptive technology, chatbots are evolving and in a short time generated high expectations and in many cases unfeasible. All these events were followed by an adjustment period where 70% of failures were observed in conversations with chatbots on the Messenger platform. This means that only 30% of the interactions with a chatbot on Facebook Messenger didn’t need a person’s intervention to handle a conversation. Outside Messenger, another well-known case regarding bot failures was the case of Tay. Microsoft’s artificial intelligence chatbot, released on Twitter that learned offensive and insulting language and in a matter of hours had to remove it.

There are three important elements for a chatbot to be a true conversational agent: dialogue management, understanding and natural language processing, and analysis. These technologies continue to improve and it’s only a matter of time before chatbots become the new smart apps. There are high expectations about the potential of chatbots and their impact on interactions between companies and their customers. For all this, it is important to understand what a chatbot is, its uses and benefits.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is software that simulates a conversation in order to perform a task for the user. The chatbots are designed to process speech or text instructions and perform default actions. Most chatbots use artificial intelligence to understand and respond to dialogue with humans; but simple, basic chatbots only use regular expressions, following a default dialog script. (regex)

What can chatbots do?

The best chatbots are those aimed at specific industries and sectors, and focused on predetermined tasks. The following graph shows the main uses for chatbots:

Benefits of Chatbots

Companies and their customers can benefit from having a chatbot in their service and marketing channels:

  • Customers have the advantage of continuing to use a conversational platform they are already familiar with such as WhatsApp, Messenger, Slack, Skype, etc.
  • They also have the advantages of receiving an immediate response and of resolving or resolving different situations on their own.
  • An additional and not least benefit is the personalization of the conversation and service for our customers and users. With quick access to history, the chatbot can better meet customer needs based on customer preference and previous interactions.
  • A chatbot allows a company to have a brand presence 24 hours a day a year. This results in increased responsiveness for customer service.
  • Chatbot helps reduce costs to businesses when low-value interactions such as calls or queries for basic information are automated. General information calls, such as frequently asked questions, are ideal for a chatbot to handle.
  • An additional advantage for companies is simplifying processes for repetitive tasks.

Chatbots give the opportunity to expand the digital channel of companies and are positively impacting the user experience. Chatbot technology is here and plays an important role in the future of business-customer interactions. Let’s get ready by starting with developing a roadmap to incorporate chatbots into our customers’ digital experience.

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