A chatbot is an intelligent computer program which is able – well – to converse with people. Chatbots can provide helpful services like for instance selling pizza to hungry office workers or quickly getting you the T-shirt you need. These digital fellows have been around for a while but 2016 saw the beginning of a real boom in this space and the trend continues. Major brands such as H&M, The North Face, Domino’s, Subway, Uber, Bank of America and others employed the services of chatbots on platforms such as Facebook Messenger, Twitter and Slack.
The new AI-based chatbots are growing smarter
Chatbots come in two flavours. The older and more traditional type is based on rules and is limited to specific commands and answers. The more advanced chatbots are capable of machine learning, or artificial intelligence (AI). They understand natural language and mimic the interactions of real humans. The AI chatbots аrе also capable of improving over time.
Chatbots bring tangible benefits
As you will see in the examples below, businesses obtain real value from employing chatbots.
- Revolutionise e-commerce
- Generate leads
- Streamline the buyer’s journey
- Enhance service, and
- Increase customer satisfaction.
Online retail is taking the leap into the future
Retail and fast food are among the hottest industries where chatbots can make a real difference. Here are a few examples.
Alexa, the voice assistant who “lives” inside the Amazon Echo, is one of world’s most popular intelligent assistants. Strictly speaking more than a chatbot, Alexa can play music, make informational queries, control home devices and help users with their everyday tasks. As a child of the biggest “everything store” though, Alexa can also help buyers navigate Amazon’s product catalogue and intelligently carry out commands to buy stuff.
The number of Alexa siblings in retail is increasing. Two years ago, the fashion brand H&M took a leap in the future of shopping with the launch of its chatbot. While using the messenger app Kik, the customer can simply select the H&M bot which then allows them to browse and purchase products or share them with contacts. The interaction is much smoother than when using the site and the customer doesn’t get frustrated while clicking on menus and selecting options.
Another retailer, The North Face, a U.S.-based company selling outdoor apparel and products, uses a mobile-optimized microsite to host their product recommendation chatbot. The company wants their customers to make the best choice when selecting among a wide range of products such as hundreds of types of jackets. In their view AI comes closest to giving the buyer an experience that feels like a human sales associate is helping them.
Chatbots feed us
One of the biggest brands in the fast food industry, Domino’s, has a chatbot named Dom that helps customers order pizza. It is accessible via many alternative channels such as Twitter, Facebook Messenger, Google Home, Amazon Echo, Apple TV, and so on.
Taco Bell launched a chatbot on the popular team collaboration platform Slack. Taco Bot’s AI brain comprehends human language and features a distinct nerdy, pop-culture personality. Busy software developers can quickly place group orders from within their working environments. They can also finalise the order and pay right on Slack.
Subway have launched the largest deployment of a Messenger bot in the restaurant industry. The chatbot works hard for tens of thousands of Subway restaurants in the U.S. It helps customers to order a sandwich or salad, as well as chips, cookies and drinks. The bot allows secure payment using Masterpass.
Companies in other sectors also embrace chatbots. Uber uses them to help their customers request a ride, the HealthTap bot answers health questions, and Bank of America’s chatbot helps you stay connected with your finances.
Want your own chatbot?
If these examples give you an idea of how using a chatbot could boost your business, there are three ways to get one. You can build it on your own using some of the available platforms which provide a quick and cheap way to set up a chatbot. Or you can use some of the bot technology vendors to create your bot. Example platforms include Chattypeople for creating AI chatbots on Facebook. MEOKAY is a tool to create a conversational Messenger bot while Botsify is another bot for Facebook.
There are some downsides to building your own bot or going to a bot technology developer. You still may have to do a lot of work and not get a unique chatbot if you choose the out-of-the-box option, or you risk locking yourself in with a single technology vendor if you select the second approach.
If you want instead to have a bespoke chatbot built to your requirements and need professional help in selecting the most appropriate combination of technologies, contact us at Mindrise. We specialise in bespoke AI solutions and with us on your side you can get a chatbot that rivals the best industry examples above.