8 December 2017
Some say that it’s a “paradigm shift,” but whatever you want to call it, chatbots and messaging are redefining the communications bundle.
Both messaging and bots have existed for years. The first chatbot, Eliza, is credited to Joseph Weizenbaum in the 1960s, while the first SMS was sent in 1992.
The technologies themselves aren’t new but recent trends are encouraging their confluence.
There’s a growing app fatigue for users and developers. Why download, install, and constantly update an app on your phone when the mobile web has improved so much? It’s easier for a business to concentrate on a responsive website than paying for a dedicated app.
Facebook, Skype, Snapchat, WhatsApp, and many other mobile messaging apps are the one caveat to this fatigue because they combine social media, email, voice, video, and text into one lightweight interface that can be used over WiFi instead of a data plan.
Chatbots are the online equivalent of lighter, quicker, cheaper real estate development. Compared to mobile apps they’re simpler and less expensive but that simplicity doesn’t prevent chatbots from using advanced technologies like AI or speech recognition.
We Text More Than Talk
For millennials and just about anyone else these days, texting is more popular than talking. I remember when the voice dictation, or the speak-to-text option, was enabled on smartphones and hearing people say, “If you’re going to just talk out your text, why don’t you just call the person?”
Years later, we are still doing it and now there’s a bot named Mastermind that lets you send text messages hands-free via Alexa. You could write a dissertation that explains why texting is so popular but bottom line, we like texting and any method that makes it easier to do so.
More Business Numbers Becoming SMS Enabled
Text-to-landline services are available because business know that people would rather text them than have to call in. It’s more convenient for customers, but it’s also an opportunity for a business to deploy a chatbot to screen routine questions that can be answered without using valuable human customer service resources.
This self-service experience is more efficient for everyone and it’s made possible due to recent advancements in AI that have finally caught up to user expectations.
I once worked at a scrap yard. The phone rang off the hook with 90% of the calls coming from our regulars asking, “What’s the price of short steel today,” or copper, brass, and so on. I guarantee you I would have been a lot more productive and less stressed out if I had the option of uploading daily prices into a bot that customers could simply text to get answers.
Successful Companies Support Chatbots and Messaging
The people have spoken, texted rather, that they like messaging and some businesses are already taking advantage of this.
Amazon announced that their Households subscription service now has a text option.
Parents can give their kids access to the family Amazon Household account, let them purchase items online, and then get notified via text or email that shows the item, cost, shipping, and payment information. To approve the purchase, the parent just has to confirm ‘Y” in a text back to the automated message.
The promise of bots is to save time on the everyday tasks and interactions that slow us down. In return for that convenience, consumers are likely to agree to advertisements and subscription packages and bot developers could be compensated with commissions.
If your business doesn’t lend itself to that sort of eCommerce model there is still a huge benefit in making your services easier to access for customers. You save by not paying a human to do mundane tasks and the user experience improves by giving them the power and flexibility to interact with you 24/7 on their terms.
Successful businesses will be the ones supporting chatbots and messaging. So the sooner you can say hello to your new messaging bot, the better to stay ahead of your competition and customer expectations.