The above infographic has been reproduced from 16bestnet.com’s post on Chatbots gone wild
Chatbots are developing quickly, and are beginning to be used by a huge range of businesses all over the globe. Currently, one of the biggest trends in this chatbot market is conversational UI. This is simply a chatbot experience that has the ability to process language in a natural way.
For the user, it is like they are texting or speaking with another human being, not a robot at all. This technology has become very advanced, making it hard to tell the difference between a bot and a human.
There are two main ways that people are engaging with conversational UI.
Speech – This is where the user can literally chat to the bot vocally, and it will chat back. A few current examples of these are Amazon’s Alexa or Apple’s Siri. You are able to ask the bot a question, get it to perform a task, or simply talk to it, often with some amusing responses.
Typing – This is where you communicate with the bot as though through a text conversation. Think Facebook messenger or a chatbot that will pop up on a business’ website asking if you want any help.
This type of technology, in both forms, is becoming increasingly popular. Users like using chatbots because it makes their life easier. No longer do they have to search through pages of text to find the information they need, or physically have to press any buttons to set an alarm or reminder, the chatbot can do it for them.
Businesses are also reaping the benefits that chatbots bring. Integrating a chatbot into their customer service can drastically reduce the manpower needed in this field, meaning that employees have more time to do other things.
Nordstrom took advantage of this when introducing a chatbot into their customer service department, to provide online shoppers with instant assistance to simple questions. It is also much cheaper to develop and use a chatbot than hiring employees to answer simple user questions.
Not only that, but bots can also be used to increase sales and encourage a shopper back to an abandoned shopping cart.
The uses for chatbots are increasing, especially since the technology or conversational UI is also continually being developed. So what does the future hold for these chatbots?
NLP to NLU
Natural language processing is a technology used to help bots understand a huge range of user requests. The bot is able to process what the users has said or asked, and formulate a response. Although this was impressive when it was first developed, since then it doesn’t seem to be enough to satisfy users.
The new trend on the market is known as NLU, natural language understanding. This will allow the bot to have a better understanding of the user’s intent, with many tech companies throwing a lot of money into its development.
Although this type of technology is already in existence, and is widely used by people all over the globe, it doesn’t mean that development will stop. The use of voice is continuing to be a trend in the market, with a range of new smart speakers being released such as Amazon Echo, Google Home, and Apple Homepod, to name just a few.
This trend is all about moving the focus of online shopping from a store-front like experience to a simple chat interface. The interface is able to live inside already popular chat apps such as Facebook messenger, WhatsApp, or WeChat, or can be a completely separate application.
This offers a one to one communication channel with the customer, where she can interact with the online store just like she would with a real person. An example of this is the bot acting like a shopping assistant, providing an adequate shopping experience.
If the customer wanted to purchase a piece of clothing, the bot could ask a few questions and then suggest a model that the customer may like.
This aims to mirror the type of experience that the user would have if she went to a physical store.
It is becoming more common for bots to be integrated with common messaging apps, so users can trigger different services without having to leave the app they are on.
For example, if they are on Facebook messenger, talking to a friend about going on holiday, there is no need for them to leave the app to gather information. All they would have to do to use the service is use the right trigger in conversation.
Technology is developing rapidly in this department, and already you are able to perform some pretty complicated interactions without having to leave an app. For example, users can use the right triggers to search and book flights while talking to a friend. Both users will then be able to compare flight times, enter their information and much more, creating a seamless user experience.
The Benefits of a Conversational Interface
With the ever increasing advancement in technology, people seem to have a dwindling attention span. People are distracted very easily, but by using conversational UI, the information that the user needs can be fed to her progressively, under her command, while also providing call to actions when necessary.
In this way, bots can increase user attention by providing information only as and when it is needed.
Although it may cost a fair bit to actually implement and set up a conversational interface, once deployment is made, they can work autonomously without much assistance needed by humans.
A chatbot can be adapted for different types of users, so they can deliver content based on user preferences and chat history. This means that two different individuals can be presented with information in completely different ways. This can help with user satisfaction and relationship.
Often, a user may be more comfortable with sharing personal information with a robot because they know that the robot will not judge them. This is especially true when it comes to finances or health. Users are able to have a conversation that is almost as natural as with a human, but not have the negatives that can accompany human conversation.
The advancement in chatbot technology over recent years is huge. Today, people may not think of a chatbot as a machine, but rather as a friend, a helper or a therapist. The more human-like bots are becoming, the more we are beginning to rely on them.