What is a Bot?
According to Microsoft, “Think of a bot as an app that users interact with in a conversational way. Bots can communicate conversationally with text, cards, or speech. A bot may be as simple as basic pattern matching with a response, or it may be a sophisticated weaving of artificial intelligence techniques with complex conversational state tracking and integration to existing business services.”
Bots have been used for years in customer assistance; especially automating responses for common issues or customer service. It is estimated that last year 34,000 chatbots were in use. Brands are increasing branching out the use of bots for new applications and increased engagement with customers.
Sprout Social Bot Builder
Sprout Social has put the power of the bot into the hands of smaller marketers with Sprout’s Bot Builder available in the Enterprise plan. Pricing for Sprout Social Enterprise plan is $249 per user per month.
This bot builder tool is currently for the Twitter platform. It allows brands to create, preview and deploy a Twitter Chatbot in minutes. There is an easy to use set up wizard that does not require marketers to be tech savvy or hire developers to create. While the bot is not designed to replace real customer conversation and engagement, it does quickly gather key information and context to provide quicker service by the human responder.
Sprout Social reports that early users included Evernote where the chatbot was used @evernotehelps. Once the user clicked on Direct Message button, the chatbot greets the customer and requests the customer to select “Quick Reply” options. The customer can select the option that is most fitting with one tap and the inquiry is routed to a support agent who can jump into an informed conversation already in process. The bot has allowed Evernote to help more people per agent with a reported 80% increase in people helped per week.
How many time have you had to repeat yourself when seeking assistance from customer service?
Besides higher levels of customer satisfaction, the reporting and analytics allow the company to identify new opportunities and ways to improve service.
Bot development is big. From Startups to established technology giants all trying to get into the action. A SaaS startup, Omlyx, has a bot building tool that does not require building chat bot servers. Microsoft also has a bot builder framework. Will the bot replace the website as a required competitive advantage?
Automation and artificial intelligence applications will only increase exponentially in the future. I predict the tools and methods to harness this technology will also decrease in price allowing even smaller organization to scale and leverage their human assets. End users increasing use of voice assistants will spur development to include the hands free voice applications and deployment in all kinds of service and marketing applications.
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