Today the number of users of messaging apps like WhatsApp, Slack, Skype and their analogs is skyrocketing, Facebook Messenger alone has more than 1.2 billion monthly users.
What is Chatbot?
Acording to Oxford Dictionary, ChatBot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.
It is an assistant that communicates with us through text messages, a virtual companion that integrates into websites, applications or instant messengers and helps entrepreneurs to get closer to customers. Such a bot is an automated system of communication with users.
Why does a business need chatbots?
There are reasons for that like getting rid of routine tasks and simultaneous processing of multiple requests from users. Besides, a tremendous speed of processing users’ requests with chatbots helps gaining customers’ loyalty.
Consumers also benefit from chatbots and they are getting increasingly interested in this technology. A study presented at the 4th International Conference on Internet Science in November, 2017 identified reasons why people choose to interact with chatbots. According to this research, the main factors that motivate people to use chatbots are:
- Productivity. Chatbots provide the assistance or access to information quickly and efficiently.
- Entertainment. Chatbots amuse people by giving them funny tips, they also help killing time when users have nothing to do.
- Social and relational factors. Chatbots fuel conversions and enhance social experiences. Chatting with bots also helps to avoid lonliness, gives a chance to talk without being judged and improves conversational skills.
- Curiosity. The novelty of chatbots sparks curiosity. People want to explore their abilities and to try something new.
The most popular chatbot
There are various search engines for bots, such as Chatbottle, Botlist and Thereisabotforthat, for example, helping developers to inform users about the launch of new talkbots. These sites also provide a ranking of bots by various parameters: the number of votes, user statistics, platforms, categories (travel, productivity, social interaction, e-commerce, entertainment, news, etc.). They feature more than three and a half thousand bots for Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype and Kik.
Through the chatbot search engines, you can find an interesting application in each category, e.g. the best chatbot for Facebook Messenger is Poncho. It sends you personal weather forecasts with jokes or funny memes and, thus, looks more like a meteorologist friend than a soulless weather reporting service.
How to build a chatbot
If we managed to inspire you to create your own chatbot, here are some tips to help you get started. There are 4 main stages:
1. Define the goals. What should your chatbot do? Clearly indicate the list of functions your chatbot needs to perform.
2. Choose a channel to interact with your customers. Be where your clients prefer to communicate – your website, mobile app, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp or other messaging platform.
3. Choose the way of creation. There are two of them: using readymade chat bot software or building a custom bot from scratch.
4. Create, customize and launch. Describe the algorithm of its actions, develop a database of answers and test the work of the chatbot. Double check everything before showing your creation to potential customers.
Now let’s look closer at 2 approaches to building chatbots:
Creating from scratch. If you are not a programmer yourself, you will need to hire software developers as this method requires work with code, manual integration with messengers and customization. Among the advantages of this approach are:
- full compliance with your needs,
- control over data the bot receives,
- the possibility to make corrections easily,
- best for a customer-facing chatbots.
This method may require significant financial and time investments.
Using chatbot builder platforms. You can create a chatbot with the help of services providing all the necessary features and integrations. It can be a good choice for an in-house chatbot serving your team. This option is associated with some disadvantages, including the limited configuration and the dependence on the service. Some popular platforms for building chatbots are: