Let’s say you run a restaurant, and you want a chatbot to take orders. Or you run a hair salon, and you need a chatbot to help schedule appointments for blowouts and coloring. Or, for fun, let’s say you’re me, a journalist, and you’re jealous of Chris Messina and Esther Crawford, who have their own personal bots.
The trouble for many of the people running these small businesses (as well as the person writing this article) is a lack of coding skills needed to make such chatbots. But in about 10 minutes, while sitting at my kitchen table in front of my MacBook Air, I built a simple chatbot, TheBeeZeeChatbot for Facebook Messenger. I built it using two new development tools from Gupshup: Flow and Template Bot Builders.
Gupshup has previously helped large companies like Barclays and Sage Software and partnered with Cisco Spark and Twilio to target enterprise customers. The company says its platform is used by 30,000 developers. Today’s launch of Flow and Template Bot Builders represents an expansion of the usual definition of a bot developer. “Who needs to build a bot?” asked Beerud Sheth, CEO of Gupshup, in an interview with VentureBeat. “It’s everyone with a website or an app.”
For starters, that means people in the 28 million small businesses across America. Gupshup’s new development products use drag-and-drop tools to “program” chatbots that are based on menus of typical use cases. As the names suggest, with Flow Bot Builder, users design the conversational flow for the bot, and with Template Bot Builder, they use pre-defined templates that are customizable to fit their audience and business needs.
As an example, Sheth says the template for restaurant bots is based on the most common variables, like location, price, hours, menu, and order placement. The new tools walk the restaurant’s bot builder through the conversation flow, prompting them to customize the conversational text in accordance with their style — all without writing a single line of code.
“Our goal is to democratize bot building,” says Sheth. “Before, high-end bots required high-end coding skills. We’re now helping small- and medium-sized enterprises create, test, and deploy bots for dozens of messaging platforms.”
Both Flow Bot Builder and Template Bot Builder are available to try at www.gupshup.io.
Below is a screenshot showing the result of my 10 minutes with Gupshup’s Flow Bot Builder: TheBeeZeeChatbot for Facebook Messenger. (And no, it’s not publicly available!)