“Chatbot” has been one of the top buzzwords for 2016. Conceptually, a chatbot is just a dedicated piece of software which users can chat with online to get their problems solved or get their queries answered. Here are few reasons why chatbots can be ‘the next big thing’ for businesses across different industries:
Chatbots are the new apps – While there are more than 4 million apps available in the top two app stores lead by Google and Apple, most of them remain unused. Generally, users access only five apps on a daily or weekly basis and a majority of them are messaging apps. They have high stickiness and used almost nine times in a day while an average app is used just twice. They are also able to retain nearly six times the number of users as the average app. With top three messaging apps claiming more than 3 billion monthly active users, messaging apps offer engaged and young user base of unparalleled size. At the same time, the larger chunk of smaller developers, and thus their brands are often overlooked in app stores. It thus becomes imperative for the companies to have chatbots as a customer touch point, in the digital customer journey.
They are easier to adopt – Companies have been trying to go digital-first but a larger part of target consumers are still off these channels. For serving customers, beyond millenials, it has been a steep curve for companies to make their customers browse websites, register online or download their mobile app. However, text based approach of chatbots can help companies tap into the customers who are comfortable users of chat applications. These customers can also be first time smartphone users or who those have just moved up from feature phones or even those – for whom smartphone is the first internet touch point. Since most of the chatbots are on messaging platforms, users can gain access to a range of services from a central hub, one they are already using frequently and without downloading any software (read mobile app).
Much each easier to deploy – At a broader level, there are two types of chatbots – native chatbots, which are present on their own platforms (websites or mobile apps); and third party chatbots, which are built on existing chat apps, where Facebook’s Messenger, Kik, Telegram, Slack and WeChat are dominating the space. Microsoft and Facebook have also launched their own set of tools to support developers for creating chatbots. To ensure that it doesn’t miss the bus, Google has recently acquired API.AI, a chatbot technology company. All three of them share a common vision of future where ‘chats’ initially and then voice based commands, would lead the human-machine interface. To conclude, providing access to respective APIs, defining set of routines, protocols, and basic software applications are enough to roll out a basic chatbot which can go a long in ensuring minimum human interference.
Ease of adoption, growing maturity in NLP and technological support from large messaging platforms means chatbots are evolving rapidly. It is about time that companies start looking at chatbots as an important part of the technology stack for their digital transformation, especially for improving the customer experience.