We’re in the middle of an AI revolution. AI bots are disrupting all industries, including very critical areas such as government, military and medical. The tremendously positive impact is hard to deny.
Indeed some critics take a fictitious view on this: They say that because of emerging technologies, we might very well be on our way to a horrible destiny. In a worst-case scenario, there may be no surviving civilizations. The media on whom we came to trust may suddenly be silent and this might also be the case as far as other communications channels are concerned. Cities might be desolate and all people might have fled because they simply could no longer stand being inundated by endless messages and notifications. All of this is entirely possible in a scenario involving bad bots. Many people might be skeptic thinking this to be just another Hollywood conspiracy movie. Unfortunately, history tells a different story. There is always someone who will take something potentially good and then trying to make it into something horrible and destructive. It is quite possible to make use of sophisticated bots that will be engaged 24 hours a day in the sending out of spam to the point where people are literally overwhelmed.
So what are the good things about Chatbots and AI that so many people overlook?
A technology with tremendous potential
There can be absolutely no doubt any longer that bots as part of artificial intelligence have just about infinite potential. The fact of the matter is that any business who has not yet implemented a bot system in their business is for all practical considerations begging to fail. They will find it increasingly difficult to compete in a vicious and competitive environment. There is already more than enough indisputable evidence that artificial intelligence can make a tremendous difference to the operations of any business organization. Someone has asked the question whether money is good or bad and the answer is it is neither. Tonight someone may be paying a drug peddler with that money but on Sunday someone is putting that same money into the offering at church. It is therefore what we choose to do with money which determines whether money is good or bad. It is the same thing with artificial intelligence and bots. This technology can accomplish a world of good but in the wrong hands, it can cause a lot of misery and suffering.
Now, since the latest release of SnatchBot, the all powerful version2, we can expect even more businesses than before to adopt chatbot technology. As Avi Benezra, the CTO of SnatchBot said: “We made sure that no coding will be required so that each and every business that desires worldclass chatbot, can simply obtain it from our botstore, where the best chatbot developers in the world sell their creations”.
How marketing exploit technology
When postal services become available, marketers and businesses found a way to use that to their advantage. The same thing happened with the advent of the Internet and then with social media and eventually with messaging services and now they have turned their attention to bots. They ride every emerging technology into the ground by overexploiting it. They inundate people with one product and service after the other and they are incessant in their efforts to get people to commit to their product or service. This is generating resistance in people resulting in a decreasing marketing audience and therefore the competition is increasingly fierce to reach consumers. Nevertheless, marketers are committed to reaching their goal each month and therefore they are left with no choice but to continue to create more content and even more messages, hoping that luck will be on their side. With every new opportunity, the marketing vultures assemble in their legions to see once again how much they can bleed their target audience. They will gorge and gorge without considering that maybe sustainable resources is something which should also be considered by marketing companies.
Learning from history
Failure to remember the mistakes of past generations will only result in a situation where those mistakes are made again and again. Regardless of the particular function of professionals whether they be entrepreneurs, marketers or business leaders the most prominent future marketing channel will be messaging. What will be important is how will marketers approach the available opportunities? Will we blunder ahead and continue using those destructive strategies of yesterday or will we do better this time around. To use a Biblical term, we are now in the dispensation of bots and artificial intelligence. That simply means that the peak times of postal rule has come and gone. That has been followed by the time of the internet, then social media, the messaging services. It is now the time of bots and artificial intelligence. These technologies are providing the human race with abilities never seen by any of the preceding generations. The question is what will we do with this incredible opportunity? Will we use it for good or for evil? Will we use it to improve the standard of living of all earthlings or will we use it selfishly thinking only of personal gain.
What is a bot?
A bot is simply a software program that is able to automate certain tasks. They can also be used to converse with humans by making use of a conversational interface. There are incredibly sophisticated bots which makes use of artificial intelligence. This is enabling such a bot to personalize responses, understand difficult questions and even to improve itself over time by making use of technologies such as machine learning and natural language processing. Bots and artificial intelligence is showing tremendous promise but a lot of research and development still needs to take place before its full potential will be reached. Bots currently follow preprogrammed rules which have been accomplished during a process which involved the use of a bot-building platform. This is a process which can be incredibly simple involving a couple of if/then-statements. The bot also has to be provided with suitable responses but fortunately, most of this can be accomplished without needing to know a programming language.
The rigors of online shopping
In most cases when people want to order something online they may have to browse through a couple of suitable websites. It will also be necessary to search through all of the available product pages until the best product has been located. The consumer will now have to fill out the order form and they also will be required to provide payment information and other personal details. All of this time wasting can be avoided by making use of a bot which will be able to do many of the things which you desire. This bot will do all of the hard work and once you have chosen a product or service the bot will proceed to place an order. Naturally, the process will require that the bot will have to ask you certain questions so that it will be able to collect all of the needed information which will then allow the bot to order exactly what you require.
Interacting with a bot
With the initial contact, the bot will attempt to solve your immediate problem by making use of a messaging app. It will simply start to engage the consumer in conversation and it will refer to existing contact records in order to attempt to understand what is needed. The bot will then proceed to refine the provided information. It will make use of a conversational strategy to gain more information in order to be able to solve the problem of the consumer. In order to clearly understand the intention of the consumer, the bot will make use of filtering questions in order to ensure that it absolutely understands the needs of the consumer as accurately as possible. Only then can it proceed to deliver a solution by making use of the available framework into which it has been integrated. All of the needed solutions will be provided in that framework and the user will not have to leave the messaging app.
Bots actually have superpowers
Well-designed bots are mostly able to accomplish the tasks which are requested from them. They are integrated into platforms where large numbers of users are known to spend their time such as messaging apps. This can be places such as WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Viber or WhatsApp. Bots are able to integrate with those platforms and they are able to engage in conversation with users. You might have an appointment with a friend and while you are chatting about the upcoming event it is possible to invite a bot into the conversation in order to reserve a table at a restaurant. All of this can be accomplished without leaving the messaging app and there is no need to make use of a browser or even another app in order to make that booking. The benefit is that bots are able to increase consumer experience and satisfaction. People do not want to be bothered by things that are tedious and boring.
Bots can multitask
When making use of bots it is no longer necessary to download a long list of apps which is never going to be used again. According to statistics most people use 4 or 5 apps at most at any one time. Unfortunately, many of those apps are now targeted by messaging apps. According to the latest statistics the amount of active users on messaging apps is now exceeding 5 billion a month. In fact, messaging apps are now more popular than social media networks. Lately, there’s been a substantial shift in the behavior of consumers. More than ever before people want instant gratification. They do not want to struggle to locate the information which is important to them. Increasing numbers of people are now making use of voice search to find those things which they are looking for. When we look at email accounts we see that they are becoming increasingly cluttered and this is why most people are now moving to social media which enable them to follow those brands which are interesting them personally. People want to take control of their own lives and this includes the things to which they want to expose themselves. Social media provides them with the ability to block or opt out or to stop following businesses, brands or organizations that have been betraying their supporters.
The future looks brighter because of bots
It is important for businesses to provide consumers with extraordinary value on those platforms on which they are known to spend most of their time. When that is done businesses are able to attract the attention of the consumer. It has been discovered that the consumer is only interested in one thing and that is an instant solution to all of their problems. Of all the currently available technologies, bots are most certainly the best answer to the problems which consumers face. It is important to have bots implemented on all messaging apps so that they can assist consumers to find solutions to all of their problems. Easy access should be available 24 hours a day on all supported devices. It is important to ensure that all of the current problems are eliminated such as unnecessary administration with those tiresome forms and unnecessary time spend browsing for solutions. It has been clearly seen over the last couple of years that service, communication, and transactions have to come together in order to ensure complete consumer satisfaction. Bots are certainly the most powerful media which has ever been made available to the consumer.
Doing things differently
For too long we have observed the misuse of marketing and advertising. There were too many cold calls and spammy email. Content marketing was falsely tagged as a certain way to earn trust and ensuring solid relationships. Unfortunately, over time the reality started dawning on people, consumers and marketers and all of those marketing efforts were actually turning consumers against the major brands and businesses. Especially the email platform has been completely overexploited with marketing companies seeking to increase their amount of views and clicks hoping to turn them into more opportunities for that business or brand. Just because they were able to convince the consumer to purchase a product once, they automatically assumed that they have permission from the consumer to bombard the consumer with endless emails for the rest of their lives. According to statistics marketers actually have the best track record as far as new communications channels are concerned. When we look at that strategy it is easy to see how it is entirely possible to make the same mistakes with bots. It is conceivable that the consumer may subscribe to their favorite publication only to be inundated by salvo after salvo of notifications and promotions. There is also the possibility that you might want to make a reservation at a hotel for an upcoming trip and then find yourself in a situation where the bot providing assistance is unable to understand that you have not yet reached your destination.
Taking a closer look at messaging apps
It has already been seen that bots are providing businesses with a way to interact with consumers on a one-on-one basis. However, unfortunately, they will be considered to be a failure if they cannot provide a suitable solution. Consumers are currently very happy with the complex conversations which they can have with friends and family on the currently available messaging apps. Because of their relatively limited development process, bots do not always have a clear purpose. In many cases, they simply do not understand the context of a conversation or they seem to forget something which has been previously said. For many people, it is also problematic that bots do not tell the consumer that they are not human. This is resulting in a situation where there is less room for human maneuvering. With both technologies, ineffectual marketing could come back to bite us in the backside. Many businesses will be aware that with spamming strategies there were technologies available which were able to eliminate some of the noise. However, it is a completely different story when it comes to bots because they are functioning inside popular messaging platforms. This is resulting in a situation where marketing efforts will not only pollute but also invade something which is considered to be personal space. An unhappy consumer will immediately unsubscribe and will not be easily convinced to participate in your programs again.
This is why a more effective strategy is required
It is very important for businesses and marketers to approach the issue of messaging correctly. A lot of thought and preparation should be invested in your strategy. As far as messaging platforms is concerned over 70% of people making use of messaging is using that platform because they want an instant solution for their problem. When it comes to artificial intelligence there is an incredibly low tolerance for mistakes. This will require bots which can be seamlessly integrated into messaging applications. The messaging app will have to be approached differently by available bot technology. On a platform such as a messenger, it is only possible for a brand to send a message when that process has been initiated by the consumer. This is why in the absence of any value as far as the consumer is concerned there will simply be no further communications with the consumer. Unfortunately, this scenario will not have an impact on something such as a bad bot. In 2016 already approximately 5% of companies worldwide were making use of chatbots. Substantially more businesses have now joined the race. This is why there is an urgent need for a framework which will ensure that all bots are handled correctly.
The real challenge is conversation
The primary challenge as far as the creation of bots are concerned is relating to the conversation and not to technical issues. It is important for businesses to fully understand all of the interactions which consumers are currently having with your brand. It will be important to analyze all of the collected data in a way that will provide the business with maximum benefits. It will be beneficial to have a bot which has been programmed to interact with the consumer in a humorous manner. It’s important to think in terms of value, it is not sufficient just to introduce another bot to the consumer. You will require a bot which is able to understand all of the issues which consumers might have and they should be able to provide a powerful solution. It doesn’t matter what your business wants to accomplish whether it is providing medical advice, providing solutions to problems, updating shipping info or adjusting a reservation you need a bot which will stand out. Do not allow all of the technicalities to confuse you. It is best to decide upon a framework which can be used to create your bot. It will have to be set up in a way which will appeal to the consumer.
Keep it simple
When starting out do not try to create a bot which can do everything. It will be much better to create one which can successfully perform a single function. When looking at the currently available bots it can be quickly seen that they are basically utility and informational bots. Utility bots are those that are used to provide consumers with a solution to their problem. This is the bot which they will encounter when they are shopping online. It has the ability to assist the consumer in such a way that the purchasing process is smooth and trouble-free. Almost 50% of consumers have indicated that they are willing to buy T-shirts and jeans from a bot. However, utility bots can be used for many other things. They can scan user email, make reservations or notify users about certain obligations. On the other hand, informational bots have the ability to provide consumers with new ways in which to deal with content. They can provide consumers with the ability to subscribe to something such as breaking news alerts which is based entirely on the interest of the consumer.
The highly successful WeChat
Anyone who is familiar with the WeChat platform which has become so popular in China will know that utility bots have a lot to offer. They provide consumers with the ability to call a taxi, order food, chat to a friend and even book a vacation without the need to exit the messaging app. It has reached the point where any business which is not involved with that messaging application is considered to be a failure. People who frequently travel to China is actually saying that leaving China and WeChat is like taking a step backward. No matter how powerful your bot may be or how sophisticated each function it requires the consumer’s initiative before it can come into action. Every subsequent message should therefore always be an extension of past conversations. Do not make the mistake of inundating consumers with messages or to lure them into shady subscriptions.