A chatbot is a computer program that simulates a natural language conversation with human users through messaging platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram and others.
Chatbots engage with consumers via specially designed conversation structures that use data analytics and algorithms to learn more about individual users over time. These data help to personalise further interactions as well as building aggregated persona analyses.
At a practical level, chatbots can be used to automate everyday customer service tasks, complement traditional brand engagement and deliver specialised information. Other immediate uses include:
• Answering questions in a speedy, reliable manner
• Efficient delivery of critical information to consumer base
• Consumer data gathering
• Online form completion
• Digital first point of contact
• Proactive daily engagement
To expand an example further, a consumer might ask a specialised chatbot for a movie recommendation. The chatbot can determine the user’s location and would ask what time is preferable. With that information, the chatbot can deliver relevant movie times and locations as well as links to purchase tickets. In time the bot will learn the user’s preferred genre, cinema location, time and seating. Once it has enough information the chatbot can proactively inform the user when a movie they should like is on at a time and venue that suits while showing relevant seats and pricing. Over time the process of choosing and purchasing movie tickets can be refined into an engagement of less than 30 seconds and a single click on a users phone.
Facebook Messenger is the primary chatbot platform in Australia, and now has more than 1.2 billion monthly users and 100,000 monthly active chatbots worldwide. Facebook recently announced some great new tools for chatbot developers as well as developed further ideas for brands using chatbots for consumer engagement.
Forbes outlines the benefits of chatbots better than we can:
Chatbots are easy to use and many customers prefer them over (traditional engagement) because it tends to be faster and less invasive. They can also save money for companies and are easy to set up. Because most chatbots use messenger apps that are already on billions of phones around the world, chances are your customers are already plugged in and ready for your bot. Chatbots are the future of customer experience and have the power to replace search windows and many apps in the not-so-distant future.