Chatbots, those computer programs that mimic human conversation using artificial intelligence, are transforming the way people interact with the Internet. It’s not surprising that chat apps are considered the new browsers and chatbots, the new websites.
Siri, Alexa, Google Now, and Cortana are all examples of chatbots. And Facebook has opened up Messenger, making it not merely an app but a platform upon which developers can build an entire bot ecosystem.
Chatbots are designed to be the ultimate virtual assistant, helping you accomplish tasks ranging from answering questions, getting driving directions, turning up the thermostat in your smart home, to playing your favorite tunes. Heck, who knows, one day they may even feed your cat!
Chatbots for Business
Although chatbots have been around for decades (the earliest dates back to 1966), companies have just recently begun to deploy them for business purposes.
Brands are using chatbots to assist consumers in a variety of ways: finding products, streamlining sales, influencing purchase decisions, and boosting social media engagement, to name a few. Some have begun incorporating them as part of their customer service matrix.
There are now weather bots, news bots, personal finance bots, scheduling bots, ride-hailing bots, lifehacking bots, and even personal friend bots (because, you know, we all need someone to talk to, even if it is a bot).
A study, carried out by Opus Research and Nuance Communications, found that 89 percent of consumers want to engage in conversation with virtual assistants to quickly find information instead of searching through Web pages or a mobile app on their own.
The verdict is in – people dig chatbots!
A Chatbot for Your Business
Have you ever considered implementing a chatbot for your business?
You can. And despite what you may think, it's not that complicated. You can create a basic bot in just minutes using some of the resources listed below.
Here are some resources we recommend that require no coding:
- Botsify – Botsify lets you build a Facebook Messenger chatbot for free without any coding. The application only requires a few steps to get your bot up and running. The website says it can beat Chatfuel in the time needed: just five minutes in Botsify's case, and that includes message scheduling and analytics. It’s free for unlimited messages; pricing plans begin when you integrate with other platforms and services.
- Chatfuel – Build a chatbot without coding – that's what Chatfuel enables you to do. According to the website, you can launch a bot in just seven minutes. The company specializes in developing chatbots for Facebook Messenger. And the best thing about Chatfuel, there is no cost to use it.
- Conversable – Conversable is the enterprise conversational intelligence platform for creating intuitive, on-demand, automated experiences on any messaging or voice channel.
- Drift – With Drift on your website, any conversation can be a conversion. Instead of traditional marketing and sales platforms that rely on forms and follow ups, Drift connects your business with the best leads in real-time.Bots are what cutting edge teams are using to automate their marketing. LeadBot qualifies your site visitors, identifies which sales rep they should speak with and then books a meeting. No forms required.
- gupshup – Smart messaging platform for building conversational experiences
- ManyChat – ManyChat lets you create a Facebook Messenger bot for marketing, sales and support. It`s easy and free.
- MobileMonkey – Build a chatbot for Facebook Messenger in minutes with no coding required. MobileMonkey chatbots learn quickly to ask and answer any question about your business. Training your Monkey bot is as simple as reviewing and answering a few questions every couple of days.
If you want to try building a bot on your own using the platform, Chatbots Magazine has a tutorial that attests you can do so in about 15 minutes.
Chatbot Development Platforms
If you've got the development resources, you may also with to develop your own chat bots utilizing tools that have natural langage processing, artificial intelligence, and machine learning at the ready:
- Amazon Lex – Amazon Lex is a service for building conversational interfaces into any application using voice and text. Amazon Lex provides the advanced deep learning functionalities of automatic speech recognition (ASR) for converting speech to text, and natural language understanding (NLU) to recognize the intent of the text, to enable you to build applications with highly engaging user experiences and lifelike conversational interactions.
- Azure Bot Framework – Build, connect, deploy, and manage intelligent bots to naturally interact with your users on a website, app, Cortana, Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, Facebook Messenger, and more. Get started quick with a complete bot building environment, all while only paying for what you use.
- Chatbase – Most bots need trained and Chatbase was built specifically for this process. Automatically identify problems and get suggestions for doing quick optimizations via machine learning.
- Dialogflow – Give users new ways to interact with your product by building engaging voice and text-based conversational interfaces powered by AI. Connect with users on the Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Facebook Messenger, and other popular platforms and devices. Dialogflow is backed by Google and runs on Google infrastructure, which means you can scale to millions of users.
- Facebook Messenger Platform – Bots for Messenger are for anyone who's trying to reach people on mobile – no matter how big or small your company or idea is, or what problem you're trying to solve. Whether you're building apps or experiences to share weather updates, confirm reservations at a hotel, or send receipts from a recent purchase, bots make it possible for you to be more personal, more proactive, and more streamlined in the way that you interact with people.
- IBM Watson – Watson on the IBM Cloud allows you to integrate the world's most powerful AI into your application and store, train and manage your data in the most secure cloud.
- LUIS – A machine learning-based service to build natural language into apps, bots, and IoT devices. Quickly create enterprise-ready, custom models that continuously improve.
- Pandorabots – If you want to get your geek on and build a chatbot that requires a little coding, then Pandorabots' Playground is for you. It is a free service that uses a scripting language called AIML, which stands for Artificial Intelligence Markup Language. While we won't pretend this is easy, the website provides a step-by-step tutorial using the AIML framework to get you started. On the other hand, if building chatbots is not on your “to-do” list, Pandorabots will build one for you. Contact the company for pricing.
The key to effective chatbot use is to make sure they enhance your customer's experience. Don't build one just because it's the hot trend. Make a list of ways that it can benefit your customers, and if you are satisfied a chatbot can serve a useful purpose, review the resources listed above to find the one that is right for you.