Chatbots, those computer programs that mimic human conversation using artificial intelligence, are transforming the way people interact with the Internet. It’s not surprising that chat apps are considered the new browsers and chatbots, the new websites.
Siri, Alexa, Google Now, and Cortana are all examples of chatbots. And Facebook has opened up Messenger, making it not merely an app but a platform upon which developers can build an entire bot ecosystem.
Chatbots are designed to be the ultimate virtual assistant, helping you accomplish tasks ranging from answering questions, getting driving directions, turning up the thermostat in your smart home, to playing your favorite tunes. Heck, who knows, one day they may even feed your cat!
Chatbots for Business
Although chatbots have been around for decades (the earliest dates back to 1966), companies have just recently begun to deploy them for business purposes.
Brands are using chatbots to assist consumers in a variety of ways: finding products, streamlining sales, influencing purchase decisions, and boosting social media engagement, to name a few. Some have begun incorporating them as part of their customer service matrix.
There are now weather bots, news bots, personal finance bots, scheduling bots, ride-hailing bots, lifehacking bots, and even personal friend bots (because, you know, we all need someone to talk to, even if it is a bot).
A study, carried out by Opus Research and Nuance Communications, found that 89 percent of consumers want to engage in conversation with virtual assistants to quickly find information instead of searching through Web pages or a mobile app on their own.
The verdict is in – people dig chatbots!
A Chatbot for Your Business
Have you ever considered implementing a chatbot for your business?
You can. And despite what you may think, it’s not that complicated. You can create a basic bot in just minutes using some of the resources listed below.
Here are four resources we recommend. The first two are ideal for beginners because they require absolutely no coding. The other two do require coding, so you may have to hire a developer, or you can tackle the project yourself.
- Chatfuel – Build a chatbot without coding – that’s what Chatfuel enables you to do. According to the website, you can launch a bot in just seven minutes. The company specializes in developing chatbots for Facebook Messenger. And the best thing about Chatfuel, there is no cost to use it.
- Botsify – Like Chatfuel, Botsify lets you build a Facebook Messenger chatbot for free without any coding. The application only requires a few steps to get your bot up and running. The website says it can beat Chatfuel in the time needed: just five minutes in Botsify’s case, and that includes message scheduling and analytics. It’s free for unlimited messages; pricing plans begin when you integrate with other platforms and services.
- Pandorabots – If you want to get your geek on and build a chatbot that requires a little coding, then Pandorabots’ Playground is for you. It is a free service that uses a scripting language called AIML, which stands for Artificial Intelligence Markup Language. While we won’t pretend this is easy, the website provides a step-by-step tutorial using the AIML framework to get you started. On the other hand, if building chatbots is not on your “to-do” list, Pandorabots will build one for you. Contact the company for pricing.
- Facebook Messenger Platform – Facebook has launched its own bot platform but, the truth is, you will probably need to hire a developer to build it. The process is not as simple as the other tools. Still, since it’s Facebook, we thought it worth mentioning.
If you want to try building a bot on your own using the platform, Chatbots Magazine has a tutorial that attests you can do so in about 15 minutes.
The key to effective chatbot use is to make sure they enhance your customer’s experience. Don’t build one just because it’s the hot trend. Make a list of ways that it can benefit your customers, and if you are satisfied a chatbot can serve a useful purpose, review the resources listed above to find the one that is right for you.
© 2016 DK New Media.