Chatbots are the first foray into artificial intelligence (AI) for many brands allowing marketers to engage ‘conversationally’ with consumers, generate revenue and automate low-level services such as FAQs. Chatbots have come to prominence since WeChat and then Facebook Messenger offered tools for their development. While many chatbots are text-based, the advent of virtual voice-activated digital assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Home, Apple’s Siri and Google Voice, combined with AI and language processing tools, means bots will develop in complexity.
A chatbot is an automated digital tool that uses audio or text methods to conduct a conversation, simulating human behaviour.
1. Chatbots are becoming a new business model
Innovative start-ups are experimenting with chatbots as business models for conversational commerce. Chatbots offer a low barrier to entry and avoid the need for an expensive brand-owned destination such as an app. They require little personal sharing in the first instance and give immediate intimacy with the user. This makes them perfect to understand customer requirements and make product recommendations, as well as a channel for ongoing interaction for new start-ups. Good examples are personal finance “butlers” Plum and Cleo, which plug into users’ bank accounts and help them to save money by deciding how much they can afford to siphon off based of purchase history and spending habits.