Ordering flowers, booking a ride, canceling a flight, getting weather updates, checking the Forex rates, and even reading what’s hot in the news: A few years back we’d say, “Hey, there’s an app for that.” But as of today, I think it we’re able to say, “Hey, there’s a chatbot for that.”
When SmarterChild was born
Time doesn’t pass as quickly as it seems, and technology has taken a lot of turns that we’d never imagined. There is no rocket science involved in knowing where bots started, though. One of the major drivers of chatbots is the rise of messaging and online chat platforms. We all know how text messages became synonymous with convenience and remember how MSN and Yahoo! Messenger chats used to eat up our whole day.
All these technologies showed us a glimpse of what we are experiencing right now. Texting turned into online messaging and then into voice messaging. Here comes our beloved Siri, then Cortana and the super-intelligent Viv. The early concept of having a “SmarterChild” with us all the time is now the approach that we all follow. Our favorite personal and professional chat platforms, Facebook Messenger and Slack, are now helping to make chatbots a powerful tool to make business processes easy rather than just being used as: “Hey Siri! Do you love me?”
Chatbots are becoming smart. They can do pretty much anything that mobile apps and websites can do. Guess what? They are now able to make apps and websites, too. A.I.-powered website builders like Rightclick.io, TheGrid.io and Opla can make websites.
Wait, don’t forget the Facebook messenger bot that’s showing off a fashion collection in London Fashion Week. If you have a clear process that you want your user to complete, you can make a chatbot to fulfull your wish.
What pushed bots to the forefront? Market size!
Do you remember that announcement where Facebook said that it is opening its Facebook Messenger platform in beta to let chatbots into the app? This is when the bot marketplace exploded, and it seems like a few developers haven’t slept since then. The opportunity is huge — Facebook Messenger now has over one billion active users, nearly one-seventh of the entire global population. With a big-fat-market size like this, who wouldn’t want a piece of this cake?
Bot or not? Decide it yourself!
Considering the amount of hype chatbots have created, they have the potential to radically transform the business processes in the future. But this entirely depends on the business you are in. Chatbots are the hottest bandwagon, and many developers have hopped on to build bots for many cases like booking a ride, weather updates, Google search, to-do lists, and much more. A chatbot can handle even a core business process like providing customer support or taking food orders.
Your users will eventually have high expectations of Siri-like intelligence that can have human conversations with them. To their dismay, they might figure out soon that your chatbot cannot do much more than a few scripted replies based on predefined keywords.
An unanswered or a wrong reply during a chatbot conversation is just like a 404 error for your business website. The only difference is that 404 page doesn’t annoy visitors as much. At this point, rethink whether your business really needs a chatbot. First, you should figure out a task that your chatbot will do and make it an expert in it.
The iron may be hot at this time, but strike it when you know what you want to make. Otherwise you are not only scaring away potential users but also hurting your brand. Your users might start to dislike your overall brand and even disable notifications from your chatbot. Do you really want that?