Chatbot

It’s counterintuitive that a chatbot that is used to automate customer interaction needs to feel human!! But the GUI is now evolving to becoming a CUI – Conversational User Interface, where a user is able to complete a task with a machine and sometimes aided by a human. At the center of CUI is the chatbot which combines conversational platforms consumers enjoy using like messengers and other text based interfaces with artificial intelligence.

Over 2.5 billion users have at least one messaging app installed on the phone, even as most of the average user’s 27 apps are unused. This explains why chatbots are the next big thing in the brand experience. The growing influence of chatbots can be attributed to the fact they are interactive, personal, proactive and allow us to complete a task instantly

With disruption caused by the recent Ransomware attacks globally, Quartz (part of Atlantic Media) created a bot named @actual_ransom which tweeted out every time one of the three wallets listed by the hackers received a new payment. The bot has received global coverage across leading news sites and is being tracked to understand the total ransom collected by the hackers. Actual Ransom Bot represents a small piece of the larger chatbot puzzle that everybody seems to be discovering.

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The 2016 Meeker Trends Report shows that monthly active users on messaging platforms continues to grow faster than on social networks, so it is important for digital marketers to adapt to this new consumer trend. Facebook with its 900 million users on its Messenger platform announced the launch of group bots this year. With over 1,00,000 bots listed already, you can create a bot in under 10 minutes on the Messenger 2.0 platform. Last year Google acquired API.AI which helps developers to build bots by providing them with tools that help with speech recognition, intent recognition and context management. Of course, not all chatbots are created equal, and there is a long tail of chatbots which don’t find active users.

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Brands that get chatbots right, design for human emotions

Designing chatbots requires an inherent understanding of human behavior. If you consider a chatbot to be another touch point in your brand’s journey, make sure that it counts and feel better or at least equal to talking to a human being. Bots are never bored or tired. They also never waiver from the programmed script – so it is important that they are designed to deliver the experience you want. On the plus side, if you get the script right, you will have a truly repeatable unique experience.

Here are 5 steps to get the perfect bot:

1. Define the Personality

Define the personality of the chatbot to make sure they look genuine and human-like. When IXIGO a leading travel search marketplace built its bot, it focused on using user-friendly, inclusive language to make sure that user doesn’t feel like they are talking to a machine. The brand’s chatbot named ‘ixibaba’ with the persona of savvy baba provides users with quirky answers to travel planning and booking related queries.

ixibaba

2. Conversation ≠ Functional

Several brands have created chatbots that mimic human behavior. For instance, the team at Haptik created the ‘Baap Bot’ which gives snarky answers and one-liners. Haptik launched the bot on Father’s Day last year as a tribute to Indian Dads. Brands like Disney and Universal have also used the same tactics to build conversations. Not all conversations have to be functional and especially if you are using a fictional character the relationship with the character can be exploratory.

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3. Surprise & Delight: Like Humans Do!

When British Airways wanted to announce its online sale, the brand launched ‘Emojibot’ chatbot which would ask users a series of questions on their ideal holiday to which they had to reply with an emoji from a selection of emoji’s shown. After the users complete the quiz, they are shown a holiday destination with sale details. The element of surprise towards the end gives the audience something they didn’t expect.

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4. Value Human Empathy

Clippy the Office Assistant from Microsoft Office deployed a simple tactic to overcome its limitation back in the 90’s. After Clippy made suggestions or answered a question, it would ask ‘Was it useful’ to which the user could answer ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’

If the user answered ‘no.’ Clippy would reply ‘That gets me really angry!’ and would open a pop-mail to be sent to Microsoft Support with the subject line ‘Your help system needs work!’. Clippy would create the impression of a scapegoat for itself in the process. Due to the limitations in Microsoft Agent technology back then the brand had resorted to this social strategy to make sure that the user doesn’t feel annoyed with the agent.

Even the most digitally-tuned customer would want to be connected with someone who can put themselves in their shoes. People want quick, straight forward service but they also value human empathy. Few techniques that brands can use to implant empathy in a chatbot includes gathering feedback after a conversation or repeating user’s preference after selection.

5. Focus

Payjo Recharge Bot helps users to complete recharges and top-ups for mobile, DTH, data cards and more. Once you’re done, you can head to the payment gateway to complete the process. Brands & Chatbot developers need to list down their goals and make sure that their chatbot does one thing and does it well before they begin building a bot.

Another counterintuitive tip – always have a human backup. While it’s important to design a chatbot that is human, it is also important to have conversations that are stuck or going nowhere with the bot, handled by a smallcustomer relationship agents. In many ways chatbots are like the IVRs of the telephone world. If the IVR doesn’t satisfy your requirement, there ought to be a human standing by.

By 2020, 80% of the online transactions will be handled by a bot.The rise of chatbots has given birth to conversational commerce.

Today we stand at a tipping point where in the possible future apps and tasks would converge to provide a universal interface. Brands have to keep in mind that while bots are easy, conversations are hard and conversations sometimes are the slowest form of human communication. Focus on building great conversations that can translate into a superior experience, and you are half way through.

References:

1) Internet Trends Report 2016 – http://www.kpcb.com/blog/2016-internet-trends-report
2) F8 Developer Conference – https://developers.facebook.com/videos/f8-2016/introducing-bots-on-messenger/
3) Google acquires API.AI – https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/19/google-acquires-api-ai-a-company-helping-developers-build-bots-that-arent-awful-to-talk-to/
4) Messenger Platform 2.0 – https://developers.facebook.com/docs/messenger-platform
5) Facebook Messenger Statistics – http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/facebook-messenger-statistics/
6) Guide to Chatbots – https://medium.muz.li/the-ultimate-guide-to-chatbots-why-theyre-disrupting-ux-and-best-practices-for-building-345e2150b682
7) Try Hello Hipmunk – https://www.hipmunk.com/tailwind/lets-talk-travel-try-hello-hipmunk-to-chat-before-you-pack/
8) Five brands that approached chatbots – https://digiday.com/uk/five-brands-approached-messenger-chatbots/
9) Designing Voice User Interfaces: Principles of Conversational Experiences by Cathy Pearl
10) From Automation to Empathy – https://www.forbes.com/sites/rachelarthur/2017/03/20/from-automation-to-empathy-ai-dominated-the-sxsw-conversation/#7fee52994049
11) Quartz – Bot https://qz.com/982993/watch-as-these-bitcoin-wallets-receive-ransomware-payments-from-the-ongoing-cyberattack/
12) IXIGO launches IXIBaba – http://www.gadgetsnow.com/tech-news/ixigo-launches-ixibaba-an-AI-powered-personal-travel-assistant/articleshow/53323423.cms
13) Three Problems with Facebook Bots –https://www.inbenta.com/en/blog/three-problems-with-facebook-chatbots/

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