The use of chatbot technology has risen throughout the 2010s, yet as early as the 1960s, chatbots were being developed and tested as quick-response conversation gadgets and tools.
In 1966, the world was introduced to ELIZA, the first natural language processing (NLP) computer program, i.e. chatbot. From then, we’ve seen Jabberwacky in 1988; A.L.I.C.E. in 1995; Cleverbot in 1997; IBM’s Watson in 2006; and daily-use chatbots like Siri, Alexa, Cortana, and the like since 2010 forward.
If you want to stay on top of the latest technological trends, you’ll definitely want to become more knowledgeable about how chatbots are currently affecting various facets of the world. From retail to social media, customer service and beyond, chatbots are becoming a vital part of numerous companies’ strategies for success.
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Before you can become an expert on all things “chatbot,” you need to know what chatbots are, how they work, and why they’ve become so important in modern society. In simplest terms, a chatbot is a conversational robot powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that people can speak to (through writing) on a company’s website.
Chatbots are often deployed as a form of customer service representative (CSR) that act as a first point-of-contact for site visitors. Chatbots are useful for businesses because they can cut down on hiring costs, ramp up profits, and reduce wait time for customers. These benefits make them a desirable technological addition to any company.
Though you’ve likely encountered some chatbots while browsing the internet, you might not be able to pinpoint any companies that use chatbots on their website. Of course if you had to guess, you’d probably assume that only tech companies use chatbots as a rule of thumb.
But that’s not the case. Chatbots have become widely used cross-industry thanks to their customer-centered benefits.
Would you ever have thought that a real estate group or a payroll and HR solutions company would be leading the way in chatbot technology before now? Exactly.
Even if you haven’t visited a website that uses a chatbot on their homepage, it’s almost a guarantee that you’ve seen – if not interacted with – a Facebook chatbot.
Facebook chatbots are the most easily recognized form of modern chatbots. Upon opening Messenger, you can visibly see a compass icon that, when clicked, will show you a series of business chatbots you can message at any time. These chatbots come from large and small businesses, and range from food ordering services to fashion and beauty advice, and everything in between.
Image courtesy of Facebook Messenger
Some chatbots on Facebook are 100 percent automated (meaning an AI robot is communicating with you exclusively), where others are half-and-half (meaning they start with a chatbot and lead you to a human representative).
Outside of tech and software companies, you’re most likely to see chatbots in retail and e-commerce websites. Why? Because positive interactions with a chatbot can directly lead to sales. On many websites, a little chat bubble will pop up on the side of the page and ask if you need help or have questions about your pending purchase.
The goal of using chatbots for e-commerce and retail is to translate time spent on the company’s website into money the company is actually making.
If you’re on the fence about buying something in your virtual cart, these businesses don’t want to risk shopping cart abandonment, which loses them money they could have potentially saved if they used a chatbot to help guide you through your inquiry or purchase process.
Another booming industry that’s taking advantage of chatbots is marketing. Marketing chatbots bring value to a company’s marketing strategy in ways that were never considered before.
For instance, marketing chatbots can help in providing customer support; gathering data from users; personalizing the experience a customer has on your website; increasing sales and gathering leads; testing and launching products; and getting genuine customer reviews about your site, products, and approach to building customer relationships.
All of above methods ultimately help your marketing strategy and company’s bottom line, showing how chatbots tangibly benefit your company as a whole.
By now, your curiosity may have been piqued to the point that you want to know how to build a chatbot for your website. However, you might be wary of taking on this monster of a task if you don’t already know how to code or aren’t a web developer – but don’t worry! There are multiple ways to build a chatbot that range in levels of difficulty from easy, intermediate, to hard.
Even the least tech-savvy person can try their hand at building a chatbot with a little guidance, the right chatbot-building software, and a series of helpful instructions!
Maybe you are a web developer or highly skilled at coding and want to take on the challenge of creating a chatbot from scratch. If that sounds like you, then reading about how other experts in technology approach creating one from the ground-up might be the motivation you need to execute the perfect chatbot for your business.
If you already have a chatbot or are strongly convinced you will in the near future, it’s important to know how to track your chatbot success rates once deployed. Like anything, if you don’t keep track of successes and failures, gains and losses, or wins and fails, then it’s impossible to know if bringing a chatbot to your website is actually providing any tangible benefits at all.
In the same way that your manager tracks your monthly goals, you have to track the things your chatbot is doing well or poorly on a regular basis. You ultimately have to be accountable for the information your chatbot communicates on your behalf to your customers. If the chatbot is programmed improperly or fails to provide the proper assistance to a potential customer, it might cause them to become frustrated and leave your site – never to return.
Is that a risk you’re willing to take?
As mentioned earlier, the concept of chatbots is nothing new. However, over the past decade – and especially within the last five years, chatbot usage has steadily increased, leading to a series of interesting statistics about chatbots.
With a mind-blowing statistic noting that by 2020, roughly 85 percent of consumer-facing interactions will begin with a chatbot, you’ll want to see all of the astounding stats about the current state of chatbots and what’s to come in the near and distant future.