Short answer, yes. Long answer…
Have you ever tried to contact a business and been left tapping your fingers against the desk waiting for that annoying ‘please hold’ music to stop? Or have you ever sent a business an email enquiry and waited a week for a response? We have too. Enter, Chatbots.
What are they?
So, what actually is a Chatbot? Let’s start with a cliché – an official dictionary description. The Oxford Dictionary describes Chatbots as ‘A computer program designed to simulate a conversation with human users, especially over the Internet’. Putting this simply, a Chatbot is a programme which responds to any messages/questions in a human manner. It sounds crazy, but if you’ve ever used one, you’ll know that the response is like a human is talking to you. These little bots use data given to them from their programmes, and scan the internet for answers, in order to be able to have a conversation with whoever is messaging them. The different ways you can communicate with a Chatbot are through text, websites, apps and instant messengers. They’re pretty spread across the digital world.
Here’s an example. Say you’re on Facebook and really fancy a pizza. In particular, a Dominos pizza. All you need to do is go onto the Dominos page and send them a message saying ‘pizza’. That’s right, one word. After you send it, you’ll be directed to ‘DOM The Pizza Bot’ who will talk you through ordering your pizza. That’s Domino’s chatbot. Rather than you having to either call the restaurant or troll through the whole site finding something you like, the bot does it for you.
Nordstrom, a clothing and makeup online store have done a similar thing. They had a Chatbot in place for the Christmas period. Once interacted with, this festive bot helped customers find the perfect gift by asking questions and giving answers and suggestions. These little bots are very in demand at the moment, and it’s only increasing. In fact, its thought that by 2020, over 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human. Robots are literally taking over…
To get a better understanding, why not check out one of the most famous Chatbots, Cleverbot. This is a little chat we had with it ourselves;
Fun Fact: The first ever bot that could communicate was written in 1996 in the USA. It (or should I say she) was named Eliza.
The different types of Chatbot
Yes, there are different types! Simple Chatbots and Smart Chatbots.
As you’ve guessed, these are the simpler version of Chatbots. They work on commands that are already planned and given to it, i.e. ‘Hello, how can I help you?’. The bot answers any questions asked from using the pre-recorded commands it has. The creator of the bot must write its commands for it, basing them on human-like expressions and phrases. How these bots work is by detecting any keywords a customer uses which match the keywords its creator has given it. If they recognise any keywords, they will respond with their commands related to the keyword.
If there are no keywords in the message, the bot will not be able to process it. This means they will have to send a response stating it did not understand, like ‘I’m sorry I do not understand’. These bots are limited in how they can respond.
If you’re wanting a more diverse, more independent bot, you should go for a Smart Chatbot. They are the more advanced bots. These bots use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to communicate. They don’t really have programmed in commands written by their creators. Instead of this, they use their AI to respond with more advanced responses like suggestions relating to the message they’ve received. These clever bots actually improve and widen their knowledge too. They do this by recording all of their conversations with people and store it within their system so that they now have new knowledge about topics they may not have known much about before. They can also use these recorded conversations to work on more useful responses. Wow.
Fun Fact: There are some Chinese bots out there which are so advanced that they can already arrange appointments, send money to whoever the user wishes, arrange taxis and flights as well as much more. Hats off to China, that is pretty amazing.
Why should you use them?
So why should you we these bots? There are a few reasons for this. The main two reasons are speed and saving costs.
Chatbots are fast. I mean, really fast. They respond to messages in seconds, quicker than any busy human is likely to be able to. They can sift through huge masses of data in seconds and find the information they are looking for. How long would that take a human to do? A lot more than a few seconds that’s for sure.
Not only is their research fast, but their responses are fast too. As soon as a message is sent, they respond. If a customer has an issue, they can speak to the Chatbot and it can be solved in minutes. This is better than the customer spending hours and even days trying to get hold of a busy customer service team. If someone is left waiting for a response, especially to a complaint, its unlikely they will stay your customer for long. A Chatbot could save you money you may otherwise lose!
What is great about Chatbots is that it saves companies having to employ lots of customer service and communications staff. Instead, they use the AI staff instead. This means, no expenses of having extra employees. These Chatbots simulate human responses, so why not give them a go?
Companies that have them mostly use them to replace tasks that don’t necessarily need humans to complete. This includes things like speaking to multiple customers at once, collecting wanted information and even arranging meetings like those clever Chinese Chatbots.
To sum up
If you have social media pages or a website that gets a lot of enquiries and traffic, absolutely create yourself a Chatbot. The benefits will be apparent instantly. They are the current digital marketing craze, and so many websites are getting on board with it. Make sure you get in there too before your potential customers go to a site with a bot which gives them quick responses. But, please remember that there are people out there who much prefer to speak to an actual human when they have issues, so don’t get rid of your customer service team!