Chatbots and Line Messenger: An Update with Avi Benezra

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Line is the messaging app that has managed to reach users around the world as it continues to push ahead with developments that have given it a global appeal. Besides offering the usual services of other similar services like WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, Line Messenger also offers its users news, entertainment, taxi orders, mobile payments, streaming services for music and discount vouchers.

Businesses have found that Line is one of the best ways for them to communicate with their customers and chatbots can effectively be incorporated with its other features, making it the attractive option for over 700 million users.

We chatted with Avi Ben Ezra, CTO at SnatchBot, to get his perceptions on how chatbots are helping businesses become more effective with a wider market reach. We also discussed the importance of Line Messenger to the business community it serves and how SnatchBots can successfully be deployed on the application.

Firstly, for those readers who may still be confused, what is Line Messenger?

Difficulties in communications at the time of the Japanese tsunami in 2011 encouraged Naver, a South Korean company, to release its internet-based communication to keep in touch with employees. It was later opened to the public in Japan and instantly became popular there and in other countries in the region. As of 2018, it is the 7th most popular messaging service and many global brands and smaller businesses have followers there. The ones that come to mind are the NBA, with 2 million followers and FC Barcelona, the Spanish football club, has 17 million followers.

Why are chatbots important to businesses that are on Line Messenger?

Well, it’s the same for all businesses with a social media presence. Communications and interactions are important for businesses and their consumers and the normal channels used are chats, voice calls, and videos. The global economy has opened up many doors for businesses, but the biggest limitation to this for smaller businesses is manning a communications service 24/7. That is where chatbots are invaluable because they offer customers and fans support and engagement. (Note that Avi Benezra oversees omni-channel development for more than 15 channels, not just Line Messenger.)

What are the most successful bots used with Line Messenger?

Line’s API for developers allows them to create visual charts with buttons and carousel options for answers; these make for more visual chats and they recently also ran a contest to drive the interest in bots. The prize money was $100,000.
All this has seen features that are extremely popular and I personally consider the instant translations of chats as one of the most successful, confirming the multilingual nature of the service. To me it proves what I have been saying all along, humans and bots can collaborate seamlessly to create so many interesting services that can only better the way we live and do business.

Why do bot developers always stress the importance of NLP and NLU and what are they?

NLP stands for natural language processing and NLU for natural language understanding. These help bots to better understand what people are asking and to have the ability to respond in an effective manner that does not entail just running through a pre-ordained script. These can be embedded in various services allowing customer inquiries, ordering, and reservations to be completed in a quick and effective manner.

How can someone develop a chatbot on Line Messenger?

There are many ways that a business can deploy a bot on Line. Line offers its own services for bot creation and deployment. This year Line released its own ClovaAI that enables developers to build smart chatbots that can have natural interactions with consumers in many languages. Then again someone can use a third-party bot development tool like our SnatchBot. Thirdly, a completely new bot can be developed with a bot framework like Python or NodeJS. Finally, developers can find code and bot examples from Github and use their SDK for the Line Messaging API for PHP.

Can an existing bot from SnatchBot be added to Line?

Yes, Line can import and embed any bot. The steps to adding a SnatchBot to Line are basic and easy to follow.

Can you outline them for us?

The prerequisite is to have a Line developer account which is easy to create. The Provider List allows them to add the chatbot provider that they want to use. They then create a new channel using the Messenger API and app where they will have to fill in the details about the bot. These will include market type and sub-type. The next step is to link the credential from the bot to the Line API, not forgetting the channel access tokens. The final step is enabling the Webhooks in Line to the bot.

What are Webhooks?

There are quite a few and they allow developers to interact with users through replies, sending of push messages, receiving content sent by users and extracting user profile information. Push messages are beneficial to businesses because they allow them to reach all their followers simultaneously to highlight promotions, products, events, and services at any time by using multicast. Group chats allow the bot to join a number of users at once and rich menus help users interact with a business bot, while it helps physical stores send important alerts to users within their range.

You believe that SnatchBot is the best bot building tool for Line. Why is that?

Line offers more services than any other similar messaging tools and bots can play a key role in interacting with their customers and users. However, developing bots to access the various Line communities can be time-consuming and costly. SnatchBot is the platform that is proving to be the best for those wanting to create bots for Line because it’s easy to build the chatbot directly for the service and SnatchBot provides the tools to do so without coding.

At SnatchBot there is no compromise and the platform provides NLP, Machine Learning algorithms, arithmetic and logic functions; a voice-to-text feature and data extractions interactions. These are all intuitive and the bot can be built in a few simple steps. The bot can then be tested, refined and improved to ensure the chat is precise and the chat can be tested on all channels where it will be deployed and on various devices. With SnatchBot it can even be tested on real users to establish if it meets their needs.

What are the elements of a great chatbot?

It doesn’t matter which service the bot developer used to create a bot, the most important element is that it benefits both the business and customer. The business should gain users, have effective marketing and save on employee hours; on the other hand, the customer gains important information, and get 24/7 support. The questions and answers are refined and the conversation is efficient and professional.

The bot must have a strong welcoming message, it must clearly explain how it can assist the user and if it can’t help must clearly guide the user to someone who can provide an answer. All these steps must be very apparent.

Finally, how are these elements achieved?

Benezra says that bespoke services like SnatchBot offer analytics and dashboards that provide information about how the bot is performing, allowing owners to make adjustments. He asserts that with their no-coding approach, they are at least 4 years ahead of late entrants to the market, such as Microsoft and big tech who are traditional slow movers. Chatbots have a place in all businesses, especially those with an online presence, and Line is a great place for them to reach and communicate with a huge market. With the new version 2 of SnatchBot – small businesses will close the gap much quicker and the traditional gap between them and larger entities will quickly shrink.

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