If you’ve held a text-based conversation with a business recently, chances are good you were actually conversing with a chatbot—and you may not have even realised it. Bots are no longer just for tech enterprises; these days, everyone from travel agencies to weather services to healthcare providers are employing bots.
Not only are bots easier and less expensive to build than mobile apps, but they’re also growing in capability and function. In fact, studies show that apps are on the way out and that bots are moving in as the new technology to aid in consumer outreach and improve customer service.
Here at SnatchBot, we expect this year to be a major turning point in bot usage, which may result in fewer apps and less online searching—but as a chatbot platform, we may be biased. Even so, there’s no denying that new Bots are trending in business as they become more advanced, engaging, and conversational.
Messaging platforms are set to outpace social media networks regarding growth, and chatbots, when utilised correctly, offer brands a way to improve interactions with customers, in real-time with greater speed and efficiency. However, there are still plenty of misconceptions about chatbot technology—chief among them that they can answer anything. But even if that were true, an entirely open-ended chatbot does not actually add much value for consumers. Rather, a purpose-driven Bot, built for a particular business and used to solve a specific set of issues, can harness the power of engaging customers in a friendly, personalised way, making requests easier while maintaining privacy.
When we talk about deploying bots in business, we’re really talking about improving the customer experience. That could be to save them time, to help them with buying decisions, answering a specific request, etc. At its core, the use case must relate to the experience of the consumer while at the same time adding value to the interaction they are having with the brand.
While that may sound rather complicated, it can be simplified by examining the current process of communication between customer and company and then recognising the areas in which automation would improve the experience in a way that makes it simpler and more efficient. The current process of communication can involve anything from frequently asked questions to monetary transactions, and everything in between.
For example, let’s imagine that a new study concludes that a particular ingredient found in most dog foods causes long-term liver damage in certain breeds. An all-natural dog food manufacturer would likely post to their FAQ on their website—which consumers then have to look up and navigate to. With a well-built chatbot, consumers could instead just contact the company via a messaging platform, and the bot can not only assure them that the ingredient in question is not in their dog food, but can also point them to resources or offer more information about the quality and composition of their products.
This, of course, is a relatively straightforward example that solves an already simple issue, but even this slight bit of automation is a step in the right direction for a brand looking to engage with its customers. This is certainly not to say that customer service should be fully automated; in fact, with the SnatchBot platform, users can choose whether they want the process to be fully automated, or to add a human input at any point.
Research studies have shown that up to eighty percent of almost any industry’s customer inquiries are repetitive and elicit similar responses. To that end, deploying a Bot for customer service makes sense; repetitive responses are easily automated, which not only reduces overhead but alleviates the stress on human representatives.
The example above shows how a chatbot could help an insurance provider streamline their service by making adjustments to an account (left) or even filing a claim (right) using a simple series of automated responses based on the information extracted from a user’s input.
When discussing chatbots and their relation to customer service, the question often comes up of if bots will replace humans and negate jobs. The short answer is “NO.” Chatbot technology is still in its early stages, and through automation will no doubt advance, usage and functionality have already proven that the best results are obtained by a combination of bots and humans. Chatbots will still rely on predictability, and will have to glean their responses from somewhere; furthermore, there will always be inquiries that are simply outside of a bot’s capability to answer accurately, especially when a request is particularly complex.
Still, the central tenets for the use of a chatbot are convenience, simplicity, and intuitiveness. In this age of rapid communication comes an expectation of equally quick results, and employing a service-oriented bot—whether it’s one that schedules appointments, accepts secure payments, or just answers frequently asked questions—streamlines the process while engaging consumers “on their own turf,” mobile messaging platforms.
Mobile messaging is quickly becoming the premier way to communicate digitally, indicated by the enormous amount of users on Skype, Facebook Messenger, and similar platforms—a total of more than 2.5 billion users. What chatbots are really doing is allowing businesses a way to join the conversation; to be where the consumers are.
As investment in the industry increases, new platforms are emerging regularly, and we expect that this year will see many more companies ditching traditional communication models for messaging. This is why we’ve integrated the ability to sync across chat channels; SnatchBot is the only Bot platform on the market today that allows a user to start a conversation on Facebook Messenger, continue on a website, and end in SMS with no interruption.
SnatchBot also equips you with the ability to publish your text, voice, or video chatbots quickly to all web apps, channels, and chat services, such as Facebook Messenger. And with our newest feature, you can now deploy a bot to all channels with a single click. There are several means by which the SnatchBot platform allows your Bots to be deployed:
- SMS (for example, Twilio option)
- Any API (like Twitter, Google Calendar, or Trello, to name a few)
- Chat Messenger: Facebook Messenger, Skype, Viber, Telegram, Line, SnatchApp (build once and deploy to conversational channels that reach more than three billion users)
When used correctly and adeptly, chatbots and conversational technology already have the potential to make a positive impact on the consumer experience—but only if brands recognise their potential and take the right steps toward intelligent automation.