A world where robots communicate with people, help them solve their problems, and have vast amounts of knowledge might sound like the thing of science fiction movies. In reality, however, those smart robots already exist -- in the form of chatbots, or computer programs that can understand communicate with humans in a natural way.
Chatbots are being used more and more by companies today, and they’re poised to take over the customer service industry, potentially (eventually) replacing human customer service reps. There are many types of businesses that are well-suited for using chatbots, including companies that regularly interact with consumers who have questions or inquiries, like banks and financial institutions, healthcare organizations, retail companies, airlines, and more. Read on to understand more about what chatbots are why businesses should be focusing on them in the years to come.
Why Chatbots are Growing in Popularity
Chatbots are growing in popularity, and more and more companies are planning to incorporate them into their consumer-facing products. In fact, in a recent survey done by Oracle, more than 80 percent of businesses already use chatbots, or plan to use them by 2020. So, just why are chatbots skyrocketing in popularity?
• People Like Messaging Technology: Chatbots are growing in popularity because people like “messaging” style communication -- or a digital back and forth conversation. In fact, messaging apps are now a more popular way to communicate than social media.
• People Like Mobile Technology: Today, people access the internet on their mobile phone more than their desktop devices, and chatbots are well-suited for mobile platforms (because they mimic the text message format). For that reason, they’re well-suited to take off as people continue to go more and more mobile.
• They’re Affordable and Scalable: Chatbots are a much more affordable and scalable customer service solution than hiring humans to do the job. Chatbots can handle the requests and questions of many customers at once so that companies can save on customer service staff. Studies show that chatbots currently save companies about $20 billion annually -- and predict that they could save companies up to $8 billion each year by 2022.
• They’re Good at What They Do: While chatbots are still away from being technically “smart” -- or able to learn and get better on their own -- chatbots are really good at giving people the information they need, in a way that seems natural, especially the ones that use artificial intelligence.
Types of Chatbots
• AI Chatbots: Chatbots that use AI or artificial intelligence interpret what is being written to them, then give an answer based on what they understand.
• Script-based Chatbots: The type of chatbot that is currently more popular with big brands is a script-based chatbot. Scripted chatbots allow users to choose from a multiple choice script, which allows companies to have way more control over what their chatbot says. This can be smart for companies who want to ensure their chatbot doesn’t go astray (like Microsoft’s Tay, after it was trolled).
Platforms to Get Started
For businesses that want to get started on the chatbot train, there are several different platforms to choose from. Here are some of the most popular:
• Botsify: Botsify is a platform that allows companies to create chatbots for the Facebook Messenger platform, without needing any coding knowledge. Botsify allows people to build bots that use AI and machine learning -- and also allows for human takeover, so that a person can step in and man the conversation.
• ChattyPeople: ChattyPeople focuses on creating AI chatbots, and people can use it to make either Facebook bots or Slackbots. (Also, no knowledge of coding necessary).
• Facebook Messenger: Companies can actually use the Facebook Messenger platform to create a bot for Messenger. However, it helps to know some basic coding in order to use this platform to build.
• Flow XO: With Flow, companies can build a chatbot that works on multiple platforms, including Facebook Messenger, Slack, Twilio and Telegram.