Before going any further, let’s talk about bots in general. Bots, which is short for web robots, have been around since the late 1980s. Bots were developed to take over repetitive structured tasks, allowing many different internet processes to be completed much more quickly. The bots themselves began to run faster and more effectively as programming methods, techniques, and tools empowered them even more.
There are several types of bots on the internet. Crawlers, better known to some as spider bots, are used by search engines to fetch information from web servers. There are trackers, which are used to track down URLs that are accessing websites. They are primarily used in targeting marketing. Monitor bots, sometimes called checkers, are used to monitor the performance of website parameters such as download speed or downtime. Then there are bad bots, which are used by hackers for malicious purposes.
Unlike the bots we just discussed, which primarily interact with servers, chatbots are designed to interact with human beings. Instead of communicating exclusively with web servers, chat robots communicate with web users.
The most basic type of chatbot out there is known as the “close-ended” bot. These bots will provide some predetermined options that are going to be based off a links archive. With this type of bot, users will fill out a short query form or click on an option, then the chatbot will guide them to one of the linked solutions. These are the most basic of chatbots, and they do not have AI and they are not the type of chatbots that we are discussing here.
1. Chatbots successfully mimic human interaction.
Chatbots powered by AI (artificial intelligence) can make their communication style almost indistinguishable from that of a person. The level of AI used in their creation controls the chatting prowess of the chatbot, with those created with the most use of AI will seem the most human. This is because AI allows technology to simulate how the human mind processes and reacts to information, allowing it to simulate human thought processes. This technology, thus empowering a chatbot to make reasonable assumptions, interpret communications that may not always be well structured, and, in the case of much more advanced chatbots, work outside their narrow presets. In addition, the artificial intelligence allows the chatbots to learn from their interactions and thus continuously improve.
2. Chatbots support interaction with web visitors outside of normal business hours.
Chatbots support an interactive platform page that users can converse with any time of day, including outside of normal business hours. They can be programmed to help visitors with questions about products or services, schedule appoints, or even troubleshoot. What type of interaction a chatbot provides is wholly dependent on you.
3. Chatbots are a necessity for modern business owners and SaaS providers.
If you try to offer SaaS without a basic program for interaction, you will be at a major disadvantage. And as far as SaaS is concerned, chatbots aren’t just for their webpage or social media: chatbots are being included as part of their software. This is due, in part, due to the development of better, more economical chatbot AI tools. In fact, most SaaS companies are going beyond the basic chatbot capabilities with their apps, choosing rather to implement advanced chatbots with powerful AI capabilities to make their software highly interactive.
4. Developing a chatbot does not require traditional coding
In the past, creating a bot required many lines of detailed code to be functional. However, thanks to chatbot development tools, you don’t have to be able to write code in order to have your own chatbot. These creation tools include the Facebook Messenger Platform, API.ai, Chatty People, Meokay, Botkit, Smooch, Telegram Bots, FlowXO, Chatfuel, and Beep Boop. You do need to be aware, however, that these creation tools have limitations. If you are looking for highly advanced, novel features, you may have to develop your own bot from scratch.
5. Chatbots are being used for all types of online interactions.
Chatbots can be used to answer general questions about services or products, such as “What kind of warranty comes with this model?” or “What are the eligibility requirements for life insurance.” Another way that chatbots can prove especially useful is by offering additional details or explanations about products based on what the customer intends to do with it, or, in the case of services, what the customer is trying to accomplish. They can also guide the conversation, which can be especially useful for online purchasing. A typical interaction might take the form of a multiple-choice prompt, such as “Are you interested in buying a bicycle or scooter?”
Chatbots can be a powerful tool after the sale has been made, too. They can provide prompt users to rate the company, offer service tips, announce discounts, and similar marketing techniques. This makes customers and clients feel more supported and makes it clear that the business care for them beyond just profits and sales.
They can also provide some help with troubleshooting. In addition, chatbots can send a message or notification when a real human becomes necessary during an interaction of any type.
6. E-Commerce and Messaging Websites Use Chatbots Extensively
Groups and businesses involved in e-commerce rely heavily on chat-based features for their websites. They typically make this available on a portion of their page, or dedicate an entire portal or app to this. Using chatbots in connection with these portals allows their customers to feel like they are instantly connecting with them. Even social platforms like Skype and Facebook are using chatbots to interact with customers.
In some cases, the bots send proactive messages about external events. Shopify does this, providing bots to automatic routine tasks and optimize the store. For example, these Shopify bots can create social media marketing content for Pinterest and Twitter every time a new product is added to the store. They can remind customers to return to the site if they left items in their cart, or offer special discounts. And the bots can be used to interact with shop owners by providing reports on things like average basket prices and conversions.
7. Chatbots Are Well Adapted to On-Demand Service Support Apps
On-demand service apps like taxi cab services can really benefit from a well-designed chatbot - and many are already using them. They are designed to be very chatty (almost like a human on the other end, of course). Companies can also have their chatbots designed with varying levels of interaction in addition to the already human-like communication style.
Here’s an example of how a chatbot for a cab service would work: the user specifies the basic info (pick up and drop off, shared or solo, mini/micro/SUV), and then the chatbot will inform them of the fare information and, once the cab is booked, it will provide the confirmation, driver contact, car details, and when they can expect to be picked up.
These types of apps can be used for just about any type of booking service, including hotel rooms, restaurants, and even movies. There are many apps and online portals, such as Book my Show or Trivago, that are already implementing chatbots to a great degree of success.
8. Chatbots Don’t Have to Be All Business
Chatbots, like some other bots, can be used in connection with online gaming. For example, AI chatbots can be used to create character interfaces that can talk with a gamer beyond a tightly controlled script. We used this very type of AI chatbot technology in the development of an online version of the classic Ouija board, where it simulates conversing with someone on “the other side” to a disturbing degree of reality. Ouija boards have remained popular to varying degrees ever since their introduction to the public as a board game, and periodically experience a resurgence in popularity that is often tied to horror movies. Now fans of the Ouija board can play Planchette either solo or in groups, getting interesting answers from AI “spirits.”
9. Professional Chatbot Developers Are Out There
A professional chatbot developer will begin the design process by taking input from the target business and then begin investigating the types of interactions that online visitors and customers are likely to engage in based on typical questions and queries. In the case of a SaaS-based business, marketing teams and customer service will collect feedback from real customers and add their own thoughts on what kind of questions to expect, then pass that information on to the chatbot development team.
From that point on, here is what you can expect:
- Sort the typical user questions into categories
- Workout the structure of interactions, including the overall flow, for a particular category of questions and answers
- Determine the most appropriate tools to use and develop the chatbot
- Provide automated links to answers and solutions
- Provide a means of accessing a human for situations that the chatbot is unable to satisfactorily handle
In addition, developers may include inline bots. These are inline query boxes which can be filled out by users in order to ask a more specific question or to share. With sharing, these inline bots can be designed with privacy control features and selective sharing. In addition, they are designed to support not just text content but also audio and video.
The latest research clearly shows that users are going to buy 65% more from an interactive web platform. These values are driven, at least in part, by chatbots which provide a far more human-like interaction than an FAQ. And from the customer service side, these chatbots free up representatives from being forced to follow repetitive, structured scripts that may not even truly address customer needs and allows them to focus on bigger problems. Chatbots save time for users, too, and allows for a much richer experience. This is why your website of SaaS product needs a chatbot.