’s new conversational bot welcomes visitors to its site

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One of the biggest emerging technologies of 2016 was Artificial Intelligence (AI), with chatbots (or just ‘bots’) on the back of it. We saw the release of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant, quickly followed by Google Home. Microsoft released their Bot Framework.

John Jackson
Jan 27, 2017 · 4 min read

It felt like every day some tech giant or bootstrapped startup was announcing something new.

But did the hype of 2016 detract from a larger, more fundamental trend? A trend that started with SMS text messaging and will eventually lead to chat (or the ‘conversational interface’) being at the heart of how we communicate with businesses in the future?

The web chatbot in action

A warm, personal welcome

Let’s take a look at, so far flying under the radar in terms of innovation in the core chatbot/AI space. But they quietly released an intriguing and strangely compelling innovation recently, a web chatbot.

This essentially replaces a sign-up form. But, why? In my experience, it just feels more natural. They gave the chatbot some personality, and it feels far more instinctive than tabbing through form fields. Before you know it, you’ve volunteered all the info needs to set you up with a profile.

Did you know that you can easily build a web bot for your business with Flow XO? Get your free account.

Thomson Holiday’s recently launched web bot

Is this really a trend?

But what evidence do we have that this is a trend, rather than some isolated brilliance by Well, other big names are deploying web chatbots too. Such as Thomson Holidays, the UK tour operator. They’re testing a web bot as an entry point into their own site (with arguably less success than

Website of Adrian Zumbrunnen, a UX/UI Designer from Zurich

Adrian Zumbrunnen, a UX/UI Designer from Zurich, has even used a conversational web bot to replace his site. In an interview with Fast Company, Zumbrunnen said that traffic was up 1000% and in just 48 hours he got 250 emails from people chatting with the bot.

When we take these developments in the context of the growth of messaging as a communication channel, and across all generations, we can start to see how engaging web visitors by chat may be a clever move.

The growth in messaging

In the 2016 Facebook study More than a Message (based on global Facebook data and a Facebook-commissioned Nielsen study), 63% of people said their messaging with businesses had increased over the past 2 years.

Of those surveyed, 56% said they’d rather message than call customer service, and 67% said they expect to message businesses even more over the next 2 years.

Will this trend be the preserve of major brands? This is often the case for emerging technologies. However this time around, accessible bot platforms are making it trivial for any business to create bots that work anywhere (including web).

UK based bot platform, Flow XO, offers an easy to use bot builder for businesses and brands. Bots built on it work on the web, Facebook Messenger, SMS, Slack and Telegram.

A Flow XO web messenger bot

There is a free plan, and a set of instantly installable templates to get you started quickly.

(For disclosure, your writer is the founder of Flow XO).

Fixing the problems of live chat

You may think this has been around for an age, in the form of ‘live chat’. Live chat is the option to ‘chat to us’ or ‘chat now’ via the small pop-up chat window inside websites.

It differs from a web bot, in that 100% of the conversation is human-human, and an expectation is set for an immediate live response.

This immediacy causes the same kind of human resource and scheduling headaches that call centres face. Businesses need to have people waiting to take each chat, and each rep can only handle maybe 2–3 chats concurrently without the quality of service suffering.

The economics of online retail mean for ecommerce especially, the investment may product a return. But for most other types of businesses, live chat simply isn’t economical.

Take a hint from a wise man

Of course, it’s impossible to predict the future. However, when you’re in business, getting ahead on emerging trends and technologies can bring enormous advantages.

One man who spectacularly predicted the future was Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. His company’s $19 billion WhatsApp acquisition in 2014 should tell you all you need to know about the future of messaging.

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Flow XO

Smart chatbots made simple. We share tutorials and ideas to help you build amazing bots.

John Jackson

Written by

Founder of Flow XO, making smart cross-platform chatbots simple.

Flow XO

Flow XO

Smart chatbots made simple. We share tutorials and ideas to help you build amazing bots.