Some of today’s top brands are using automated messaging apps or “chat bots” to engage their audience.
Although the technology is not perfected, bots now have the ability to hold sensible conversations with their users. So not too far into the future, you might call a customer service line and be told to “Please hold while we connect you with a bot representative”.
A chat bot (also sometimes referred to as a talkbot or chatterbox) is a computer program which conducts a conversation with either auditory or textual methods, typically used for customer service or information acquisition purposes.
In its simplest form, a bot will scan for keywords within the input and then find a reply with the most similar wording pattern and best matching keywords from a database. Some of today’s examples would be Amazon’s “Alexa” and Microsoft’s “Cortana”.
The more complex bots of today will use sophisticated Natural Language Processing (NLP) systems, which come from a field of computer science and artificial intelligence that deals with interactions between computers and human languages. They create software programs to process large amounts of natural language information by using natural language understanding and generation.
With this enhanced experience between bot and consumer, marketing specialists for large corporations have already started to jump on board:
– Twitter has already begun fiddling with the idea, offering the service to Twitter users through Twitter ads.
– Microsoft unveiled chatbots for Skype last year, and more recently added support for chatbots to LinkedIn.
– Google has created an analytics platform called Chatbase that provides analytics and suggestions for how to improve chatbot experiences and make them better for users.
In addition, businesses such as hotels and restaurants that have been somewhat reluctant to adopt these kind of apps are beginning to readily embrace these bots. It’s still too soon to say whether consumers will actually embrace the idea of chat bots for what they are right now, but we can safely assume that when it comes to the bot marketplace there will be a lot of movement and improvement in the future.