Chatbots must choose their wording carefully if they are to engage their users for longer periods of time. This is why copywriting and the distinct choices made in the way the bot works is so important. They must also be deployed in suitable ways for their audience.
A chatbot is a programme that automatically responds to human user input through text. They can be programmed to operate to respond in specific ways and even learn from inputs. They are a form of artificial intelligence.
Chatbots must perform a task
There are huge varieties of chatbots but in general there are two types of tasks for bots: bots for entertainment or bots to serve a purpose and make life easier for the user. There is no point in a chatbot being unable to perform a set task otherwise it would have no need to exist. Indeed, the presence of emerging AI technology is impressive but without a purpose the general consumer will only find it of interest for a minimal amount of time.
The entertainment approach is largely seen in gaming examples. The Akinator website and application engages users by asking questions in order to work out a character you are thinking of – an AI take on the classic Twenty Questions game. It is purely for fun. In a similar vein applications such as Facebook messenger have seen chatbot games be integrated right into their systems. Hosts of games and bots aimed at telling fictional stories that you can take part in just by inputting text are available. These enable users to play out the likes of detective stories that the user can make decisions in.
With the increasing usage of technology and the availability of smartphones it is of little surprise that their are hosts of chatbot applications that have been created in order to make life easier for users. The Jarvis Facebook Messenger bot (a nod to Marvel’s Iron Man AI system) works as your personal assistant. To put it simply ‘He reminds you to do things.’ It recognises the timezone in which you are in and then can remind you at a certain time of the indicated task. To input a task all you have to do is ask Jarvis to ‘remind me … ‘ and input a time. Business have jumped at this chatbot technology because it can save them hassle. A simple customer service chatbot can do tasks such as log complaints and direct customers to the individual support they require. This cuts out human operators – obviously a bonus for them – and weeds out those customers who may have desired a simple fix that the bot could suggest trying. This is the same principle of calling customer service on the phone and listening to an automated system and using the keypad to touch through to the desired help. The benefit of the chatbot is that it can be used directly on a business’s web pages. Furthermore, many consumers prefer text chat than having to make a physical call or have to speak to someone. In this way chatbots can benefit businesses and consumers.
Chatbots should be simple
There is little point in chatbots overcomplicating things. Currently your average chatbot will not be competing to complete the Turing Test. In the grand scheme they have a fairly simple task and they should stick to this task, whether trying to solve your complaints or playing out a text-based game. They should generally follow a linear conversation path. Indeed most companies recognise this and make no attempt to pretend that their bots are human (though scam sites and Tinder bots will try to make you believe otherwise). Proof of this is that the bots are usually given names, often with ‘bot’ within it. It does however depend on the chatbot being used. A customer service chatbot should be focussed on trying to help the customer resolve their issue. That is not to say that there is not room for variances. The chatbot task at hand means that some are suited to complementing the user, such as those run by fashion brands in order to create emotion within the customer.
How chatbots persuade
Humans are complicated, yet at heart simple. If you appeal to our emotions than you can persuade, and this is often what chatbots do. The anthropomorphisation of some chatbots undoubtedly makes them more friendly and easily interactive. Think Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. They have human names and a voice.
Some chatbots act in a friendly and positive manner to help sell the company wares. Indeed, fashion brands have started using chatbots to recreate the physical shop atmosphere with a friendly and helpful assistant at hand. Tommy Hilfiger has used a Facebook chatbot since 2015 that can help pick out items and show off the latest fashion lines.
There are however controversial uses of chatbots that target human emotion. The promotion for the 2015 film Ex Machina included putting a bot into Tinder circulation that imitated a woman looking for love before revealing that it was in fact a clever ad.
Integrating chatbots into the likes of Facebook Messenger and Twitter are, for obvious reasons, an intelligent choice. Over a billion people use Facebook Messenger a month. These social media platforms are already populated systems. All you need to do is provide the bot. No new software or external site is needed to engage the chatbots with users. Not only this but these sites have picture and video support meaning bots are not limited solely to text. Messenger supports template replies making it easy to engage with the bot. It is therefore an obvious choice for business to make in integrating chatbots with pre-existing social media sites. 80% of business hope to be using chatbots by 2020. It is a technology that we are only going to see increase in number and usage in the future, and likely to much broader aspects than we are already seeing.