2018: The Rise Of The Chatbot (part one)
January 25, 2018

Make no mistake, 2018 is going to be an explosive year where technology is concerned. If the emerging trends of 2017 are anything to go by, this year is set to solidly build on newer concepts like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Chatbots, while relegating longstanding forerunners, like the predicted backlash to social media where consumers are expected to take back what they’ve so long allowed the channel giants to control. Privacy concerns anyone?

In this two part series we examine why chatbots are becoming de rigeur and how they could revolutionise big business. 

So, Chatbots, Bots, Virtual assistants, whatever you want to call them. In many respects it feels like they’ve been around for a long time. Who hasn’t had a frustrating conversation with an automated Customer Support service? Mind you, similar conversations with a real human being, be it via a live chat facility or a call-centre, can be equally scripted and frustrating. So why are we suddenly getting so excited about a new wave of chatbot technology?

What is a chatbot?

First things first, what do we mean when we say ‘chatbot’? The internet is awash with definitions, each with varying degrees of relevancy; and there are countless examples to draw upon. But just to be clear, we’re not talking about a limited, auto-responder that only gives you scripted replies, here. No. We’re talking about machine learning. Singularly and collectively learning our preferences and responding to enquiries through deep-dive information hunts and built-in search engines.

Let’s take Domino’s AnyWare for example. It hooks up to a dizzying array of devices including Google Home, Alexa, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Zero Click, Text message, Tweet, Smart TV, Voice activation through their App, Smart watch and even via your car. They have covered just about every conceivable corner of the ‘listening’ market. SO much so, it’s virtually impossible not to order a pizza! Their guidance on using Zero Click says it all:

“Simply open the Domino’s Zero Click app and, after a 10-second countdown, your Easy Order will automatically be placed. Zero clicks needed. It’s easy. Maybe too easy. You’ve been warned.”

Why are they becoming so popular?

Why are chatbots becoming so popular? Why are they fast catching up with and threatening to take over traditional interaction points? The answer is due in part to the fact they work now (for the most part), the advent of effective machine learning and the rise in popularity of messaging Apps. Perhaps the question here is why are messaging Apps so popular? Because they are passive? Because we are busier than ever? Because we are lazier than ever? Whatever the reasons, it’s clear that we want to complete actions quicker, with the minimum of fuss, and receive instant confirmation. Efficiency, in short.

We want to spend less time completing actions and more time having experiences. Living our lives. Incidentally, 2018 is also set to be the year we invest more in our wellbeing and health. You only need to look at the number of mindfulness Apps and different virtual yoga assistants on the market to know how much this is resonating with millennials.

But what about business? What do chatbots do for organisations that humans can’t?

Business benefits of a chatbot?

The Intelligence Unit of The Economist calls them ‘an efficiency boost for the professional services industry’. So, a similar sentiment to wanting to spend less time completing actions and more time experiencing or achieving. In the tech world we like to say ‘working smarter, not harder.’

The practical, enterprise related definition of the chatbot resonates with us because, like the attraction to messaging Apps in our private realms, it draws on the technology adoption already making greater efficiencies in our everyday work lives. Through greater understanding of consumer behaviours and language-based rules, users of all levels can choose the channel they interface on. Much like digital marketing as a concept and in real world application, if you communicate with users where you know they frequent online, you are more likely to get them to convert.

With chatbots, providing multiple opportunities at multiple touch points for your potentials customers to reach you live and direct, pushes them another step down the buying path than they might be without those channels. Domino’s has completely nailed this. The marketing advantages of the chatbot alone are enough to make you throw half your budget at it.

Check out part two here!

Interested in how chatbot technology could grow your business? Get in touch! Drop us an email below or call us on 028 90 87 2222

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Etain Ltd make custom software; we aren’t legal professionals. The information in this article is presented in good faith, and is intended as a high-level guide to help you understand the technologies discussed.

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