Chatbots are everywhere in 2018. This summer’s FIFA World Cup, for example, sees a new landmark in chatbot use as millions of fans interact with bots from teams, brands, betting companies, sponsors, and more. One obvious vertical for chatbot use is customer service, where the bot shoulders the burden of routine queries while staff can deal with more complex cases. In health care too, the growing number of institutions hosting chatbots has led Juniper Research to predict that $3.6B will be saved by 2022.
Yet it might be that education proves to be the biggest winner from the use of chatbots. According to Avi Ben Ezra, CTO of SnatchBot — the award-winning chatbot building platform — a survey of its users shows that out of 18,000 companies, organizations, and individuals building chatbots powered by SnatchBot, it is education that has a slight lead, at 16 percent of users, with IT and ecommerce at 13 percent each, fintech at 11 percent, and only then customer service at 10 percent.
It helps that SnatchBot’s platform has state-of-the-art Natural Language Processing (NLP) in 130 languages and an intuitive logic for building conversations that makes it easy to create bots that can ask questions, keep scores, and give feedback. But one recent use case in particular shows how explosive chatbot use can be for researchers.
Professor Dr. Diana Derval teaches at Donghua University in Shanghai and the Sorbonne Business School. She is also Chair of DervalResearch (a global market research firm specializing in shopping behavior) and the inventor of the Derval Color Test. In the first three days, three million people took the test, with the total rising to ten million within a year, revealing that not only do people have a different perception of color nuances but some people are more sensitive to contrast than to colors. These findings have been presented at several international conferences on sensory science but they are also extremely important for marketing.
Professor Derval explained how the use of the chatbot came into its own. “What started as a simple LinkedIn post to show the huge variations in color nuances perception among individuals,” she explains, “turned into a viral test and we wanted to give users the best experience thanks to the Derval Color Test bot. The main purpose of this chatbot is to boost the interaction, to propose further readings on the topic of colors, and offer freebies like a chapter of my new book: Designing Luxury Brands.”
Adds Dr. Derval: “We have always been a great fan of chatbots. Ten years ago DervalResearch implemented with GMI the first chatbot in Second Life. It was literally a talking sofa. The open questions and people’s great receptivity enabled us to generate fascinating insights and Snatchbot allowed us to easily implement a similar interaction in Facebook, using Messenger.”
She agrees that there are lessons in the use of a chatbot for research more generally. “With the Derval Color Test, we definitively pioneered the emerging field of co-research. Traditionally researchers test hypotheses on reachable people, use statistics to try to convince themselves the people they found are somehow representative, and publish a paper hoping someone would actually read the obscure research. What we did, and we were both praised and criticized for it, is that we shared our first findings on color perception so that people could comment on them.”
“I must say Snatchbot made the implementation easy,” Dr. Derval continues. “We tried to give our chatbot a personality and to combine our knowledge of human behavior and neurosciences with the tool’s AI capabilities. The idea being to entertain and inform users and whenever possible to anticipate their requests.”
Readers can talk to the Derval Color Test bot by sending a message to it on Facebook.
Clearly, being able to reach ten million people with a research test shows the potential for a paradigm shift in the education sector and also in marketing. Market research is often expensive and survey samples are usually in the thousands, not the millions.