Chatbots Will Be the Virtual Assistant You’re Looking For

While it may seem like the mobile app craze is just getting off the ground, there is a new and even more advanced trend hovering just around the corner — bots. Chatbots utilize artificial intelligence, allowing users to communicate through their devices to access news, weather, entertainment, shopping and more.

What makes bots superior to apps is that bots are interactive — they can carry out commands much like Apple’s Siri.

Essentially, different bots provide different services to the user, acting as a specialized and convenient personal assistant. With one bot to manage your finances, another to order dinner and yet another for scheduling work meetings, mobile users can reach new heights in personalized digital assistance.

All Aboard the Bot Revolution

Bots are not the center of attention in tech news like apps often are. However, hints of a bot revolution are lurking just about everywhere you look, while app downloads have taken a serious dip.

Juggling apps for each area of your life can become exhausting — learning to use, update and regularly check each app can create even more work than it eliminates. Meanwhile, interacting with bots is more immediate and only requires you to know a language and speak or type.

Basically, bots are the closest you’ll get to face-to-face conversation in the digital sphere.

Many brands have already begun utilizing bots for customer service and a variety of other functions.

In April 2016, Facebook launched a platform for developers to begin building chatbots through their messaging system. While heavily focused on e-commerce, the Facebook platform also gave a CNN bot as an example of how news can be delivered even faster than through traditional social media outlets.

Kik Messenger launched its first bot store in April of 2016 as well, offering 16 new bots, including one for Vine, The Weather Channel, and Funny or Die. Amazon’s launch of Alexa, along with Microsoft’s Cortana provide further evidence that big companies are joining the bot revolution to streamline tasks for their users.

Creating a Case for Chatbots and Your Brand

Small businesses and marketers would be wise to jump on the bot development trend before industries become over-saturated with bots. Just as social media has become a necessity for modern businesses to stay relevant, chatbots will soon be a necessity instead of just an additional option.

The paradigm shift from print to digital marketing revolutionized the way businesses communicate with their audiences. Now, bots will change the business-to-consumer relationship even further, removing common barriers to conversation.

A Business Insider study showed that it takes companies an average of 10 hours to respond to customers. With automatic responses from bots, you can increase customer satisfaction while maintaining a positive brand reputation and freeing up staff for more important and complex tasks.

For brands without bots, customer care is delegated to employees that already have a lot on their plates, such as marketing teams, PR professionals and social media managers. Bots can not only reduce customer waiting time, but also mimic human customer service reps in a natural way.

Despite the common belief that bots are too impersonal and automated, brands can carefully craft a chatbot personality that actually represents their brand values.

The key to success is for brands to determine the kind of bot that will provide the most value before development even begins. Is your main priority increasing sales, retention rates or new customer acquisition? These factors will help you narrow down your options for building the most appropriate bot.

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