The world of bots is exploding. Today’s bots integrate within existing applications and replicate the support and intelligence of their human counterparts. They can simplify myriad functions, enabling consumers to gather information or fulfill requests on command. They empower us to make decisions more quickly by sharing information rapidly and clearly in a conversational format.
With close to a billion people using Facebook messenger every month, many will soon use bots on the platform to find out when a restaurant opens, place an order for a T-shirt, or even pay their bills. Millennials, the digital early adopters, will be the first to take these shiny new bots for a test drive to see what they’ll get in return.
Digging into the psychology of bot usage, we find that there’s a level of trust associated with texting or chatting — the medium through which bots share information. For developers, drawing on user inputs to enhance bots’ intelligence and capabilities — and displaying information via a convenient interface — is a recipe for success.
At first, many millennials will play with a bot’s basic capabilities to see what place the bot may have in their lives. Then they’ll move on to testing the limits of the bot’s comprehension and capability. Think about the first time you used Siri or Alexa. You asked simple questions like, “What’s the weather going to be today?” Then you moved on to the less mundane: “What’s the distance from the Earth to the Sun?” Of course, you eventually tried to stump it to see what creative responses have been programmed, asking “Where’s Waldo” or “Should I give my dog a bath?” (try them if you haven’t).
All kidding aside, bots mesh nicely with millennials’ preferences and behaviors for a number of reasons.
1. Technical and lifestyle convenience
Today’s leading platforms draw in consumers by following their habits and customizing services to their routines — rather than creating new steps for them to take. Bots integrate with apps already installed on millennials’ connected devices, and because these users have interacted with various chat-centric user interfaces since the days of AOL Instant Messenger, the bot interaction experience comes naturally.
Furthermore, millennials already spend an average of 26 hours a month — nearly an hour a day — on Facebook’s mobile app. They could use Messenger bots for that hour to check sports scores, order pizza, pay their monthly bills — the possibilities and functionalities are endless. Even the White House just introduced its own bot, and I can only image the questions headed its way.
2. Instant gratification
A great Louis C. K. bit called “Give it a Second” proposes that millennials have no concept of time, nor any idea of the manpower or technology behind responding via email, loading a web page, etc. However, with every new digital advancement, the demand for immediate feedback has grown. Bots are the next generation of artificial intelligence (A.I.) meant to simulate immediate human response without the costs of call centers, and — let’s face it — disgruntled employees manning those phones.
If given the choice between calling a number, sending an email, or asking a bot, I suspect many millennials will take the bot route first to see if they can get a quick answer. When they do, they’ll comprehend the technology’s value and start to seek out other bots, especially if requests are answered to their satisfaction.
3. Leveraging the power of conversation
Whether they’re double-tapping on Instagram, tweeting, liking on Facebook, competing on Pokémon Go, or messaging via WhatsApp, millennials are constantly communicating. Creating a new platform that encourages conversation and provides the ability to quickly complete other tasks will enrich and simplify millennials’ everyday lives.
Perhaps more than any other generation, millennials crave the ability to share their voice, and I suspect many, given this newfound convenience and access, will use bots to speak their minds, along with getting answers to their burning questions.
4. Leading the digital revolution
Millennials take great pride in shaping the digital revolution, and they seek experiences and opportunities that allow them to have a lasting impact. As millennials become the largest generation, their influence, ideas, and input will further craft and mold the future of A.I. With new input, bots will get smarter over time, and millennials will quickly build the customer experience they crave by essentially programming their needs and desires through their bot interactions.
5. Messenger bots are fun!
Bots are like Googling “Do a barrel roll.” (You have to try this one.)