Seriously, what do I need a bot for?

Bots are the next big thing! But what exactly do I need one for?

One of the main drivers of bots is messaging platforms. Hooking a bot into Facebook Messenger, Slack, etc allows people to use services directly from the same interface they are using to talk to friends. They don’t have to install and switch to a different app. It’s just there.

Another aspect is providing a more human interaction. Bots allow people to communicate with them in natural language. It also provides an opportunity for someone to ask questions, learn more and receive a more personalized experience.

Ok, so that’s why bots are cool, but what exactly can we use one for? I thought it would be useful to create a few examples of use cases in different industries where a bot could add value.

These are not intended to be perfect or definitive examples, just ideas to show what could be built.

Retail Bot

Imagine you need to buy a jacket, but you need some advice about which jacket to buy. You could go to the store and ask someone… or you could ask a bot from the comfort of your own home.

Restaurant Bot

Imagine you are in a restaurant, you sit down at your table and look at the menu, but what if you can’t choose or you need to ask what food matches your dietary requirements?

Instead of waiting for a waiter to come over, you could ask a bot…

Banking Bot

Imagine you’ve lost your credit card. You are in a panic and want to get it cancelled as soon as possible. But you need to call up the helpline and wait in the queue. Meanwhile someone could be out there using your card.

Or you could chat to a bot and get it sorted straight away.

Travel Bot

Imagine you are chatting with a friend on <insert your favourite messaging platform here> and you decide to go on holiday. One of you could go off and look at flights and then come back to your friend and give them options, and then go refine your search, etc

Or you could both just talk to a bot…

Hotel Concierge

Imagine you are staying at a hotel. You have some questions but there’s a queue at the front desk. How about you ask a bot for help?

Health Bot

Imagine you are a patient in hospital. It’s a busy place. It can be hard to get a doctor over to talk to, and they may not have time to answer all your questions.

How about you have a personal healthcare bot who you can ask about your diagnosis and treatment plan, as well as ordering meals and asking for help.

This kind of bot would be a good use case for the Watson Tone Analyzer service. For example, you could check for fear or sadness, in which case the bot could provide some reassurance or call someone to help.

CV Bot

Imagine a recruiter has found your website or your profile on LinkedIn. You seem like a good prospect for them but they want to find out a bit more. So they send you an email and wait for a response…

Or they could talk to a bot and get more immediate information, allow the bot to decide if you are interested and potentially schedule an interview.

What will you build?

So there are some ideas, and I’ve purposefully kept the examples simple and stuck to pure text responses. But you can provide more rich content where appropriate. Also, bear in mind that users don’t necessarily have to type everything - you could allow them to speak and translate that to text for them (e.g. using Watson Speech to Text service). At times you could also provide shortcut buttons when there are options presented.

Hopefully that’s given you some ideas about what you can build. Let me know what you come up with.

If you need help building bots, I wrote some articles to get you started: