Tuesday, February 14, 2017

The Chatbot Explosion

Chatbots have been around for years, but were primarily relegated to those annoying automated phone systems.  Now, suddenly chatbots are popping up everywhere.  What's a chatbot you ask?  According to Chatbots magazine (yes, there is actually a magazine devoted to chatbots), a chatbot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface.  Facebook introduced chatbots to its Messenger platform in 2016 and announced recently that they now have more than 34,000 bots!  Why are chatbots suddenly so popular?   Business Insider pointed out that the combined user base of the top four chat apps is now larger than the combined user base of the top four social networks.  Think of that, chat is now becoming more popular than social networking.  So it should be no surprise that companies are quickly following their customers to chat platforms.
   What can you do with chatbots?  Well, almost anything!  You can get the latest news, check the weather, order a product or service or just talk to your favorite bot.  At its best, interacting with a chatbot is similar to interacting with a live customer service representative, but with less cost and higher levels of customer satisfaction.  Some analysts believe that chatbots will eventually replace 1-800 numbers, offering a more comfortable customer experience but without the annoyance of automated call centers.
   So I encourage you to try it for yourself.  Interact with a chatbot on Facebook Messenger, Kik, Line or your favorite chat app.  I have listed some of the top chatbots below, but there are many, many more.  It seems that the art of conversation isn't dead after all, but it's definitely evolving.

Some chatbots you may want to try:
  • American Express
  • Burberry
  • CNN
  • Hi Poncho
  • KLM
  • Health Tap
  • Uber
  • Wall Street Journal
  • 1-800-Flowers
  • Mitsuku (best experienced on mitsuku.com)

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