Chatbot developers each have their own set of tools that they use to independently develop their products, which has lead to changes across the industry. The key, however, has been chat apps opening their APIs to allow developers build conversational tools. APIs are constantly improving, adding more and more capabilities. For example, Facebook Messenger’s last update included an in-chat payment feature. Additionally, continued developments in artificial intelligence tools have been essential in making chatbots a more robust communications tool. We sat down with Asaf Amir to talk more about it:
ADM: What are chatbots' best applications?Amir: The most frequent requests we get are from marketers, who are seeking to run independent campaigns on messaging apps or looking for ways to expand their current campaigns into messaging apps, in order to reach more users. Once interactions get going, chatbots can be designed in such a way that they can quickly get to know users, and subsequently offer more personalized, relevant information. They can make recommendations on songs, recipes or products that may be of interest, as well as suggest complementary news items, for example.
ADM: Why would end users want to engage with chatbots?Amir: If trends continue as they are now, the idea of inputting terms into a search engine or clicking a link on a website will become more and more obsolete, and we will continue to see the rise of conversational publishing and marketing find its way into consumers’ everyday lives. When created properly, chatbots can make a number of tasks quick and effortless, which is a huge plus in today’s increasingly fast-paced world. Chatbots can help you manage your personal finances, keep you updated on interesting news stories, help you shop for your weekly groceries and so much more. The options are truly endless.
ADM: Who is driving the chat app market? Where have you seen the most development?Amir: Two forces are driving the chatbot market. On the one hand, developers are creating extremely impressive technology that is making conversations with chatbots very similar to conversations with humans and also expanding their functionality. On the other hand, there is a growing demand from marketers, publishers and large corporations that are trying to gain an upper hand by accessing the messaging app market and create innovative chatbots. So, you have both developers creating a market for their products and corporations seeking to fill new, specific needs.
ADM: What are the biggest advantages and disadvantages of using chatbots?Amir: The biggest advantages of chatbots include being able to reach a broad audience on messenger apps, as well as the ability to automate personalized messages. They also can improve efficiency by taking over tasks for which humans are not essential. One disadvantage is that not all bots are created equal. For example, when Facebook opened up messenger to bots, many people were disappointed in the lack of sophisticated entry level bots were able to provide. However, this will improve over time, with better bot selection.
ADM: How tailored should chatbots be to the brand?Amir: It is very important for chatbots to be created with the image of the brand in mind—chatbots are becoming the frontlines of customer-brand interaction, just like people on the sales floor. Chatbots are a direct reflection of the company, and should be designed accordingly.
ADM: What are good and bad current use cases?Amir: A good example is Tommy Hilfiger’s Facebook Messenger bot, which takes advantage of the role chatbots can play in e-commerce. Named TMY.GRL, the bot was released to coincide with New York Fashion Week. TMY.GRL is simple and easy to navigate—first, it asks some questions to get to know the user, and then answers questions and directs customers to various looks, clothing items and accessories. While there is plenty of room for improvement, chatbots are a great addition to e-stores and we should see growth in this space. A less successful case was Microsoft’s infamous teenage chatbot, Tay, who went on a racial rant on Twitter, and soon after ‘went to sleep.’
ADM: How do human to chatbot conversations compare to human-to-human conversations?Amir: There are two different types of chatbots. The first type, purpose-specific bots, are created to respond to particular commands and questions. For instance, bots can be programmed to process food orders, and perform that function seamlessly in a few quick steps. These types of bots fulfill the demands vendors and customers have, but do not have full-on conversations. The second type, let’s call them purpose-ambiguous bots, use sophisticated AI to have more interactions in a conversational style. Right now, people are able to guess if they are talking to a machine or a computer, but that’s getting harder and harder to do with continued advancements in technology.
Editors Note: Asaf Amir, Founder and CEO, Chatsuite
Asaf's background consists of a mixture of advertising, high-tech and entrepreneurship. He's the Founder and CEO of Chatsuite, and an expert in the latest trends and technologies of the chat app world.