The basics of chatbots with CTO Avi Ben Ezra - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

The basics of chatbots with CTO Avi Ben Ezra

Rapid growth in adoption rates, fueled by AI and zero cost barriers to entry is now the new norm for chatbots. Below we will explain the basics for the few companies that did not yet adopt this technology.

What exactly is a chatbot?

Most of the commercially available chatbots fall into two distinct categories. There is what is known as the messenger apps. These are used extensively by brands and businesses especially in their endeavors to remain online 24 hours a day. This allows businesses and brands to provide a very high level of customer support. Messenger chatbots also make it possible to provide instant answers, to quickly solve problems, and in general to just respond that much quicker when engaged by the consumer. These chatbots can work on several messaging apps such as Slack, Facebook Messenger, WeChat and Kik. It should be understood that these kinds of chatbots are limited by their programming as far as their interaction with customers is concerned. There are also virtual assistant chatbots. These chatbots will help users with many tasks such as to remember important things, essential purchases or just to find necessary information. There are many examples of virtual assistants such as Google’s assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft Cortana. All of the sophisticated chatbots are functioning because of technologies such as machine learning. This simply means that these chatbots are relying on artificial intelligence which enables them to learn. These artificial devices are also capable to determine what people may need.

The tremendous growth of the chatbot industry

The SnatchBot platform, came along and created a Chatbot marketplace where people can buy off the shelf solutions for their industry. There are also free bots available. This significantly reduced any cost barriers to entry. It is known as a “Bot store”. Apparently, consumers have seen nothing yet. They have only seen the tip of the iceberg. What has been forecast is something which is expected to develop into a billion-dollar industry within the next decade. It is therefore not surprising that some of the top brands on the planet have already invested in chatbot technology. This includes companies such as CNN, Uber, and Sephora. Extensive research is indicating that within the next 10 years it will be impossible to distinguish chatbots from their human counterparts. These predictions are coming from people who had been known for their high level of accuracy when it comes to predictions which are made based on the available data. At this point in time, the only meaningful conversation is those which takes place between two humans. The predictions are that this will change and it will be entirely possible to have a deeply meaningful conversation with a chatbot before 2030. Naturally, a lot of things can change and there can be a technological breakthrough within the next couple of months which can change the situation completely. As things are now a meaningful conversation with a chatbot may be possible a lot sooner than predicted.

Consumers expect transparency and honesty

Almost 80% of consumers interviewed have indicated that they prefer to know beforehand whether they are talking to a chatbot or real human being. Almost 50% of those who have been interviewed have said that they consider it creepy when a chatbot pretends to be human. This is why 60% of people interviewed have been informed that they are actually engaging with a chatbot. Just below 40% of consumers are okay with it when they receive recommendations or advice from chatbots. Slightly over 20% of consumers have said that they would like to receive recommendations about products which is available from their retail store. Roughly the same amount would like to receive recommendations from chatbots relating to hotel accommodation. Research has also shown that consumers will definitely not be impressed with bad chatbots. In fact, only one such experience could set the chatbot industry back by many years as far as consumer perceptions are concerned. More than 70% of people interviewed are adamant that they will not support a company who has been making use of a bad chatbot. Furthermore, it is also being discovered that just over 60% of people would be even more frustrated should a chatbot fail to solve a problem compared to a similar experience with a human.

Conclusion

A lot of progress has been made in the chatbot industry but a lot more still has to be accomplished. Slightly less than 40% of US citizens are now willing to make purchases through a chatbot. According to data collected the average purchase will be less than $60. A similar study in the UK indicates that just over 50% of UK residents will be willing to buy basic items such as food and clothes from a chatbot. When people actually engage with a chatbot the two words most often used is hi and hello. Some other interesting conversational tools are the thumbs up icon, yes, help, hey and the question mark. It is a well-known fact that people will resist everything with which they are not comfortable. Over time people adapt and they change until it eventually new technologies are fully embraced.

Suggested reading:

Avi Ben Ezra on the Tech Blog, See also Avi Ben Ezra in France.

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About the author

Avi Ben Ezra

Avi Ben Ezra is the CTO of SnatchBot Contact the author.
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