Introduction to Chatbots - "The Digital Assistant"

Messaging apps are now much more popular than social networks. The users spend more time in Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and other communication platforms. These platforms tend to grow by every day and offer many new and interactive opportunities for customer dialogue and thus business growth. Acceptance for digital helpers is also increasing steadily. So far, very popular environments for the use of chatbots are applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Discord or Slack when it comes to text messages. Amazon Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod.


What about Chatbots?


Chatbot is an interface between users and certain information or services. As text-based dialog systems, chatbots are able to communicate with potential customers and prospects directly in Facebook Messenger or on the website. 

In fact, chatbots that does not only simulate conversations. Chatbots can also perform standardized tasks independently and automatically. They can be reached, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and 365 days per year, depending on year, to answer questions from users, make appointments, reservations, update address details or suggest suitable products in online shopping. Chatbots never lose patience with customer inquiries, are present 24/7 (there are no queues) and there is no overflow on service phones, they have no capacity limits. The advantages for customer service and sales are more than obvious: better accessibility and long-term relief for employees, who can thus increasingly focus on high-quality customer contact. 

But how can companies create the chatbot that is tailored to their customers' needs? The following guide shows what to look out for and which helpful tools are available.

 

Website vs. Messenger Chatbots - Selection of the right chatbot platform


Before creating chatbots, companies should consider exactly what they want to achieve with their chatbot and which channels they use to interact with their target groups: Should the chatbot regularly send content to users? If so - should it be more entertaining or worth knowing content? Should products be sold directly?

Once the purpose of the chatbot has been determined, it is time to choose the right platform to reach your target group: businesses can choose between a website and messenger chatbots. The classic website chatbots should not be forgotten despite the popularity of Messenger apps. Chatbots can be integrated here in the form of live chat windows, but also as a pop-up banner or as a complete chatbot website that can accompany a customer during a purchase or registration process. On the other hand, Messenger bots are naturally predestined for mobile applications. 



Rule based vs. self-learning - intelligence levels of chatbots


The effort involved in creating a chatbot also depends on how intelligent the programmed assistant should ultimately be. 


Rule-based chatbots use a predefined set of questions and answers in dialog and can therefore only provide the information that creators have considered in advance. 

Chatbots with Artificial Intelligence (AI), on the other hand, learn continuously with every conversation and can also answer unexpected questions by independently linking information. However, AI chatbots are still at the beginning of their development. So the expectations should not be set too high.




Understandable & purposeful - building up the conversation


The chatbot tools provide various options for creating conversations. This is done via a drag-and-drop selection of the appropriate question-answer modules, via multiple-choice answers or via if-then-answer options. When defining questions and answers, the focus should always be on using the chatbot to guide future users to their goal as efficiently as possible. This requirement is often underestimated when chatbots are programmed for international use. 

After all, a user wants to be looked after individually and not always read the same three standard answers. In order to stand out in an ongoing chat conversation, designed buttons or other graphic elements can also be used when creating conversations. 

 

Creating a chatbot is not rocket science if some basic principles are followed. Users can assume that a lot will happen in this area in the near future, because chatbots are only at the beginning. So you should keep an eye on the latest developments.