To make it simple, chatbots are automated programs that can simulate conversations with people to answer queries and to execute specific task requests. This technology is called Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is the ability of machines or computers to imitate human thinking or decision making. These bots uses NLP (Natural Language Processing) to attempt to understand what you are saying to it and then it replies accordingly.
The bot can chat with you and do things for you. A chatbot can help you order food, book appointments, buy stuff online and more. Instead of browsing a website, you can just tell the Ai-ran companion what you are looking for and he will find it. It’s very similar to walking into a physical store and talking to an employee there. These digital assistants have been around for quite a while now, but the real progress is their new capacity to adapt to the customer through the Machine Learning (ML) process.
Before explaining what one these bots is, we have to understand where they come from and why they became so popular in such a small time, and why today.
Where do chatbots come from
Chatbots have been around for a long time. The first chatbot whose name was Eliza, was developed way back in 1964 by a group of researchers at MIT. A lot has happened since then and now is the time when chatbots are really coming to life!
You might be asking yourself “Why are chatbots coming to life? Should I be worried?”
Well, I’ll tell you. And no, you shouldn’t be worried.
Facebook made it possible for programmers to build chatbots on Messenger in April 2016!
Which means that the single largest social media platform on Earth made it possible to build chatbots on Messenger.
Your e-commerce business could have a chatbot that could chat with your customers 24/7 and help you sell your products!
The rise of the chatbot: A more personalized experience thanks to Artificial Intelligence
The way people interact with AI is going to define a new social norm. AI in chatbot will become more efficient. For example FedEx’s new app, using Amazon’s Alexa AI, lets you ship parcels only by saying, “Alexa, I want to ship a package,” claims FedEx CIO Rob Carter. He explains: “When you think about the complexity of global shipping it’s quite an intense world“.
Data is key to AI, if you want a chatbot to learn and develop, you have to feed its algorithm with examples of customer requests and the corresponding right answer. Even if you can build already good chatbots using static data sets, more realistic and human like AI learning algorithms will perpetually need new data to become smarter over time. That’s the reason why companies should invest early in ML architecture so that it continually collects new data and uses it to regularly update its AI models.
If your business deals with customers on a day to day basis, you will face consistent issues or questions, and building a chatbot is an good way to streamline that interaction, by providing information to the customers faster and more efficiently than a human customer service representative. So chatbots can definitely help your e-commerce to reduce the costs of customer support and to build a better dialogue with consumers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
They also bring a good opportunity for you to personalize recommendations for consumers based on the history of the chats. Like Starbucks, in 2017, willing to get more personal service thanks to their virtual baristas, more physical and online companies are willing to take the leap, thus creating a phygital strategy. This leap has been taken by a lot of major companies in 2018, and will be taken by even more big companies in 2019, so don’t hesitate to follow the lead and create an interactive path for your customers.
Today and tomorrow’ use of chatbots
Today, we are not afraid of these digital assistants and AI-related automations anymore (remember Terminator?). They are even used in our daily life. Even if some of us don’t really know, they are getting more and more popular by the weeks pass.
How can chatbots benefit my business?
Why am I only focusing on Messenger chatbots? Why am I not talking about other messaging platforms like WhatsApp, QQ Mobile, Kik or Slack? Well, that’s because Messenger has billion users. Did you know that Messenger has surpassed Facebook in the number of active users?
If I would tell you that you could get your products on a platform that has billion users, is rapidly growing everyday, works on every device and is super easy to use? What if I would also tell you that you would get an employee on that platform that will work for you 24/7 and do that for chump change. This is how amazing messenger chatbots can sound. Let me tell you what it can do for your store.
Mark Zuckerberg talking about the Messenger platform during the Facebook F8 Conference
Let’s say you create a Messenger chatbot for your store. You can look at that chatbot as your new employee. This employee will help you sell products through Messenger, connecting to your customers and helping them on their way to find the product they need.
What you can also do is personalize your new bot employee. You can make him be formal, goofy or really sarcastic. Your new bot employee also knows when he doesn’t understand the user and lets the customer talk to a real person.
One of the most important features of your new employee is that he can broadcast messages to your customers. Let’s say you have a new product and you want to let your customers know about it, you can tell your bot to send a group message to all your customers that this particular product has arrived.
Being where your customers are is crucial in today’s competitive e-commerce world. Things are constantly changing. We’ll see whether or not E-commerce Chatbots are the next big thing, but they are definitely something you should be aware of.
2018’s use of chatbots
Do you remember when people were skeptic about apps? No one thought they were going to be the next big thing. Then apps got better and better and the rest is history. That’s kind of where chatbots are right now.
Most people are hearing about chatbots for the first time, and like with everything that is foreign people don’t trust them completely. This is changing however, fast. More and more people are becoming aware of chatbots and more and more chatbots are being developed. It’s safe to say that 2017 is the year of the chatbots!
What’s next for these bots?
In the close future, personal assistants, chatbots and virtual customer service agents should accurately understand the emotional state of people they’re dealing with. Bots right now have pre-registered answers and cannot detect that you might not be in the best of moods for let say, jokes or sarcasm. Soon, the chatbot will be analysing by itself new parameters and be able to opt for a more sympathetic and accurate response.
With such new features being implemented, the chatbots are becoming more and more realistic, adding visual impact and ease of using voice command. One would say that the tactile application era is starting to fade.
This technology is becoming even more visual and engaging for customers as the possibility to operate virtual agents is already available. Then it is right to say that the number of chatbots in the markets is not about to decline. The potential for long-term gains are huge and the race has already started. What are you waiting for?