There is a lot of negative noise around chatbots lately, which negatively affects how chatbots are looked at in general. I’d say: don’t give up on chatbots just yet. Be patient, the technology and how people tend to use it is still in its infant stage, but evolving rapidly. Think about how the world wide web started out: you know the industry will learn and improve.
I strongly feel chatbots are here to stay. They are hyper-personal, extremely convenient to operate and always and everywhere available. Much better than most apps, if done right, because:
1. Chatbots are like apps, but with much more reach
You don’t need to download them from an app store, they just run from any of the available messaging apps already spinning comfortably on your and your customer’s smartphones in which they can easily be shared with and spread amongst other users.
2. Chatbots are like apps, but allow for much more engagement
Messaging is something people do for fun, to talk and hangout with friends and loved ones. As a service provider of your customer, you can sit in that same space, bringing you much closer, in a friendly and relax atmosphere, being able to help in a much less intrusive way than downloading a complete app!
3. Chatbots are like apps, but with much faster conversion
Remember the time you would pay fortunes to specialists crafting, shaping and a/b testing your UX design to figure out the best possible way to help your customers finish their transaction. Chatbots use the most convenient interface out there: chat! When asked a question in chat, people tend to answer intuitively and instantly. Because that is what we are all conditioned to do. Everything floats in one direction and all interaction is under the thumb, leading to quick responses.
4. Chatbots are like apps, but lead to less churn
Chatbots are always up to date. Chatbots don’t rot away on your device, waiting to get out of date. Customers can choose to engage with you using the chatbot at anytime and the chatbot can engage with your customers whenever a relevant event occurs. It is up to your customer to politely decline or choose to re-engage.
5. Chatbots are like apps, but cheaper
Really good apps, Native Apps, are built at least twice, one for Android and one for iOS, not even mentioning the other possible platforms. Native Apps need to be kept up to date which requires both effort on your side as on the customer’s side. Apps can support very rich and free format user interfaces, which requires more effort and more UX design. Chatbots are far more limited in their UI design but very optimised and tested for purpose since it is used by more than 2 billion users on a daily basis for quite a while now, which saves a great deal of trouble and cost.
6. Chatbots can run like apps, but better
Wrapped as a stand-alone web app (ideally a PWA, a progressive web app), a Chatbot will feel like an app, without the need to download anything. They can easily be shared using their URL or using a QR code without the need for downloading and installing anything. A PWA installs on your homescreen if you like, exactly like you would expect from a normal App.
From Chatbots to Conversational Apps
I don’t believe in chatbots as becoming the evil, world-leading-dominant-intelligence, being able to understand and think better than us humans. No, not at all. I see them as light weight conversational apps that are extremely well equipped to serve a specific purpose, like booking a flight, planning a meeting, submitting a house move request or telling you where and when you can find what, so we can actually enjoy doing what we really like to do with our valuable time!
So don’t give up on chatbots just yet. Be patient and allow the industry to learn and prove its potential. They’ll slowly transition to real Conversational Apps that mixes the richness of form-UI’s with the convenience of chat. This way you can offer more speed, more convenience, more relevance and more proactiveness to your customers, without having to download, install or update yet another app.
Don’t hesitate to give me call or send me an e-mail if you want to learn more or share your ideas :-)