The Future of Chatbots

Brands are constantly looking for new ways to interact with their customers, which have led many companies to turn to chatbots. What are chatbots? How are they being used now and how will they be used in the future? Here’s what you need to know about this exciting technology:

What are chatbots?

Chatbots are computer programs that are able to engage in conversation with people using artificial intelligence. The conversation can take place inside many different chat interfaces such as Facebook Messenger or standard text messages. Sound confusing? Take a look at The Weather Channel’s chatbot to get a better understanding. If you want to check the weather forecast, you can either visit The Weather Channel’s website, or you can talk to the company’s chatbot directly within Facebook Messenger. During the first conversation, the chatbot will ask for your zip code so it can always pull weather information for your city. Then, you can ask the chatbot “What’s the weather like today?” or “Will it rain tomorrow?” and the chatbot will respond within seconds. There’s not a real person responding to these messages — the conversation is powered by artificial intelligence — but the user often feels as if he is communicating with a human.

How are chatbots used?

Chatbots have exploded in popularity, and it’s not hard to see why. This tool is incredibly beneficial when it comes to improving customer service. For example, have you ever sat on hold for a half hour just to ask a simple question like “What are your store hours?” This question and many others like it can easily be answered by a chatbot so customers can quickly get the information they need without having to make much of an effort. Now that consumers are officially spending more time on messenger apps than they are on social media apps, chatbots have become even more important. Plus, chatbots are available to “talk” to customers 24/7, while customer service representatives usually only work standard business hours.

Chatbots may be able to increase conversions or sales as well. For example, let’s say someone uses a chatbot to ask when the company is hosting its next informational seminar. Instead of just responding with the date of the seminar, the chatbot can also send a link to the registration and encourage the user to sign up before time runs out. Without the chatbot, this user may have never landed on the registration page, and thus the brand would have missed out on the conversion opportunity.

What’s the future of chatbots?

Many people may assume that replacing humans with artificial intelligence makes the communication between the brand and the user less personal, but that’s not the case. In the future, brands will continue to find new ways to use chatbots to personalize the user experience. The information collected by chatbots can be used to provide product and service recommendations or direct users to certain content they may find interesting. For example, imagine shopping for a friend’s baby shower. Instead of visiting the website, printing out the registry, and choosing an item, in the future you may be able to ask a chatbot to send you an item that is within your budget on your friend’s registry. In this example, the chatbot has simplified the process and made the experience much more personal and efficient for the customer.

Luckily, it’s not as hard as it may seem to build a chatbot for your brand. But to do it right, you have to first predict how users will communicate with your brand and how the chatbot should respond. Remember, if the chatbot doesn’t provide valuable information, customers won’t find it useful and you won’t get to enjoy the many benefits of this technology.

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