You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby: The Chatbot In 2019

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The humble chatbot is a customer assistant and marketer’s best friend – but that does not mean the chatbot is perfect. In fact, there is definitely room for improvement as we enter the 2020s.

The current state of the chatbot sees an attempt to improve how user data is processed into leads. Of late, the industry has preferenced Artificial Intelligence (AI) to, for lack of a better phrase, make “dumb” chatbots “smart”. However, this fails to tackle the chatbot’s lack of conversation ability and “personality”. Interestingly enough, “dumb” chatbots can be the most efficient option if programmed in the right way. Let’s explore where the chatbot is heading.

High-end tech for low-end tools

There is no escaping the perennial popularity of the chatbot and they remain a go-to tool for marketers for a variety of reasons. For example, chatbots can help companies save up to 30 percent of expenditure when it comes to answering customer requests. Furthermore, they are cheaper than creating dedicated apps and connect well with millennials –  with 60 percent of millennials having used them and 70 percent of those reporting positive experiences.

Nonetheless, some sectors continue to criticize the chatbot’s inefficiency at processing users into leads. This has led to the attempted integration of AI and machine learning into the complex tool – which often leads to mishaps and fails. For example, AI is a technical and financial strain  which makes maintenance necessary to keep it working. In reality, the tech trend severely lags behind customer expectations and, in reality, is not ready to deal with more complex problem solving or tasks.

The technical and financial strain of employing an AI chatbot () – which requires regular maintenance so as to prevent the kinds of fails mentioned above. This makes chatbot tech exclusive to big-budget companies.

High-end tech solutions are not necessarily the answer to low-end tech tools like the chatbot. Supercharging a conversational tool does not make sense, and the malfunction of AI chatbots can create mistrust from the user. The tool could be the smartest in the world but fail to convert properly if the resulting user conversation does not allow for personalization, lightheartedness and an appropriate level of entertainment.

In the end, businesses have the right tools but are often unable to leverage them properly into believable, helpful and ultimately friendly bots. A chatbot is only as effective as it is created to be.

Reconceiving the chatbot

Crafting chatbots that are as smart as possible seems to be where the contemporary industry is headed. However, designers should be going back to the drawing board to remember what the intended function of a chatbot was in the first place.

Chatbots make brands seem more human and offer an opportunity to perpetuate their personality and values through the character they create. They provide human-like support and advice – day or night. So, when businesses create a chatbot they should think of the chatbot as their digital representative and build a profile similar to that of a buyer persona. This will allow chatbots to act and be perceived as an extension of the brand rather than something that exists separately from it.

Chatbots also make brands more effective – but they are not meant to completely substitute humans. They capture and qualify leads based on user responses before facilitating direct connection or future meeting with an employee who can help further. In the end, the chatbot is a helpful middleman but one which only works with the vital support of people.

Lastly, chatbots turn users from passive to active participants. Business websites are generally passive spaces and, like any printed magazine, allow customers to browse published information. Chatbots change this by inviting people to actively engage with the brand and embark on their own “customer journey” by selecting answers. For example, Winnie uses a conversational style to assist customers in setting up a website. The bot has seen success through Facebook Messenger, where its interactive customer journey logged a 72 percent click-through rate through to an affiliate hosting provider.

A chatbot is designed to help website owners make better choices about which hosting provider to go with. Getting the most suitable hosting provider and package for your needs can be one of the most frustrating things about getting a website up and running.

Winne helps users narrow down their choices, based on the kind of website they’re setting, up and points them in the direction of suitable providers hosting packages. Since the bot first opened on Facebook Messenger, it has achieved an incredible

On the road to where?

The rise and rise of chatbots will only continue into the new decade – with 80 percent of businesses wanting chatbots by 2020. By the same time next year, Gartner Research predicts that 85 percent of all customer interactions will occur without humans. However, this does not automatically mean AI integration.

In fact, chatbots using AI struggle to function properly in crucial steps of lead conversion. Meanwhile, chatbots that work on the premise of interactive choice help brands revolutionize customer communication in an unrevolutionary way. Essentially, chatbots that convincingly “chat” have already passed the Turing Test – and do not need AI to do it.

Conversational interfaces programmed through multiple choice enable businesses to personalize lead generation without the risk of malfunction. Multiple choices mean there are only so many ways the resulting conversation can go – meaning the marketer maintains control over the interaction. This leads to ease of use for both the chatbot user and designer.

For example, chatbots which allow customers to “choose their own adventure”, while really only operating under potential and programmable options, make for bots that can be created with zero coding experience for multiple clients. Furthermore, it makes for a personalized conversation that requires low maintenance.

AI may be supercharged, but “dumb” chatbots programmed in clever ways can humanize any business at a fraction of the cost. The chatbots of tomorrow do not need to look different from the ones of today but need to act smarter about how they process their leads. This comes back to instantaneous responses to customer queries and seamlessly passing leads onto human representatives. This is not about reinventing the chatbot, but rather building upon its best attributes.

Jiaqi Pan

CEO and Co-Founder at Landbot.io

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