Made friends with any chatbots recently?
For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, courtesy of Wikipedia, here's a quick definition...
A chatbot (also known as a talkbot, chatterbot, Bot, chatterbox, Artificial Conversational Entity) is a computer program which conducts a conversation via auditory or textual methods. Such programs are often designed to convincingly simulate how a human would behave as a conversational partner, thereby passing the Turing test.
Still not too familiar? Try our very own Katapult test bot (be nice, it's just a baby!)
Any on-demand brand isn't without its own chatbot these days. Not suprising considering the ever increasing demand from customers to have personalised, on-demand customer service, right here, right now. These customers have Whatsapp, but better still they have Facebook Messenger (which has now rivalled Whatsapp with over 1 billion monthly active users.)
Facebook Messenger, Skype, Slack, Kik, Telegram and taking a slightly different approach, Twitter's Direct Message Bot are good news for brands (and consumers), because they offer a direct channel of communication, via an application that we already have installed on our smartphones. And let's face it, who wants to be bothered with downloading more apps?!
Thanks Ogilvy, big market then!
(Whatsapp doesn't support bots yet, so perhaps Facebook is hedging its bets with one platform, potentially because it doesn't rely on your phone number.)
Well that depends on what you do, and what platform your audience is on, but here are a few viable uses for chatbots...
- Customer service, support and complaints
- Subject expertise
- Publishing & content subscriptions
- Ordering (think Uber and Dominos)
- Shopping & eCommerce
- Utilities & admin tasks - who doesn't love Slackbot?
- Brand engagement - Starbucks, British Airways
- Ideas and inspiration - Like a cocktail making coach
- Knowledge & information
- CSR & social purpose - check out Yeshi
- Personal assistant - hey Siri?
Make your own bot
Inspired? Great! Now you can go and make your very own Bot. Don't worry, many of these services promise you don't have to be a developer or know any complex coding.
We put it to the test, and it's true. Say hello to our test bot
Learn to walk: Chatfuel
Chatfuel claim you can "Launch a full-featured chatbot in 7 minutes" - Pricing is free provided you have <100,000 conversions per month.
The Katapult test bot took a little longer than 7 minutes, but that was mainly user error. It's a great interface and great fun to play around with.
This service only supports Facebook Messenger, so it's great as a starter.
Other alternatives include...
Try a jog: Botsify - Free for one bot, with up to 100 users per month, up to $50 per month for 10,000 users.
Step it up to a sprint: Flow - Starting at $19 per month but supports multiple platforms
Or just get a chauffeur: The Chatbot Factory - These guys will build a bespoke bot for you
A word of warning to brands
A bot is for life, not just for Christmas...
Bots offer unrivaled data capture opportunities and the chance to gather really in-depth insight from users - don't rush to launch a bot quickly without considering whether it a) adds value to your audience and b) can have longevity, enabling you to make the most of this rich data opportunity.
Messaging platforms have different rules and social conventions
Whilst there has been a significant shift in demand for more personal marketing and many consumers have welcomed more one-to-one interactions with brands, there is a line you don't want to cross.
Bear in mind that Messenger users do so primarily for private one-to-one conversations and will not want to be bombarded by interruptive advertising. There's a fine line between being useful and being overbearing and pushy. Don't be that guy!