Who uses chatbots?

Chatbots became popular in one fell swoop last year. Facebook added them to their platform, Microsoft started working on it and Telegram also offered them chat app. Creating a chatbot became increasingly simple, increasing the number of companies with such a service as well. But why is a chatbot so useful? And how can you get started with it yourself?

Simply put, a chatbot is a piece of software that can respond to people’s questions in a chat program. So a conversation is simulated without talking to a human being. Most chatbots can be found inside chat apps, such as Facebook Messenger, Slack and Telegram.

Related topic : How to set up a Facebook chatbot

It differs from each chatbot to what it can do. Some serve as a replacement for customer service. They help you with things you would normally call for or send an email about. There are also chatbots that perform simple tasks for you. For example, you can use a bot to put an appointment in your calendar, a make a reservation at a restaurant or in some cases even to buy clothes from a website, for example.

The further we get in the technological field (especially in the field of machine learning, and natural language processing), the more a chatbot will be able to do. And that makes them more and more interesting.

Related topic : What is a chatbot?

Why are they appearing now?

Chatbots may be popular now, but they have been around since the 90s, such as the bots on MSN Messenger, which gave mostly incoherent answers. Then they had little use, besides some fun fun for kids and young people.

Now they’re back, mainly because of some technological steps we’ve taken. Last June, I talked about this Remi Zoeten, data scientist at Bol.com. He then said, “We figured out how artificial neural networks can be used to deal with text. So better computer representations have been found for human language. In addition, Wikipedia and other (public) text sources are constantly growing, chatbots can learn from them.”

A conversation is the most intuitive interface – Chatbot developer Jerry Wang Share this Quote In addition to a wider range of language processors and artificial intelligence. And because several providers like Facebook have opened up their platform to these kinds of developments, they can suddenly appear anywhere. Jerry Wang, who develops chatbots in Silicon Valley for several companies, gives another reason: according to him, a conversation next to a mouse, keyboard or touchscreen is “the most intuitive interface”. “Talking to someone to find certain information or achieve a goal is something all people do.”

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Of course, there is also a lot of convenience for businesses and users that play along with the popularity of chatbots. You don’t have to install anything, but just add it to a conversation. You talk to it like anyone else through a chat app, so you don’t have to change anything. In addition, it is becoming easier for companies to create such a program. So there’s no need to put much effort into making a bone.

The Usefulness of a Chatbot

So why a chatbot is useful is clear. For businesses, for example, it saves a lot of money because they don’t have to use their customer service. After all, if a program can give you the answer, you will no longer call a company and stand on hold for half an hour. So the work is automated and you have the answer you’re looking for right away. A simple form of robotisation.

In addition, there are chatbots that actually speak. For example, these more advanced variants, often referred to as voice assistants or virtual assistants, are reflected in Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Google Assistant. These chatbots allow you to ask general questions so you don’t have to type it, enter appointments in your calendar, and even control smart devices in your home in the last two cases. The utility? Make your life a little easier without touching a keyboard.

And chatbots prove to be very useful for businesses too. For example, Oxxio has incorporated her chatbot O into its own app. Hans Kramer, working at Oxxio, says: “Throughout our app, increases self-service operations, such as adjusting the deadline amount yourself. The chatbot helps with customer questions. Since its introduction, the number of customer service calls has nearly halved.”

Which media do you choose for?

As said there are various media you can put a chatbot on. Which one you choose depends on your preferences. But in fact, Facebook Messenger is most used in the Netherlands.

Lara Ankersmit from NOS says: “Facebook is a big platform, it’s used in mass use. You can put a chatbot on Kik, for example, but if only a small group of Dutch people use it, you can reach very few people.” Earlier experiments were also done with the WhatsApp chat app, but this proved unsuccessful: “WhatsApp doesn’t allow chatbots, and if you want it anyway, it’s pretty much hassle.”

The chatbot is still pretty small. But we do get positive responses. – Lara Ankersmit, NOS Share this quoteThe bot of NOS tells you every day what the news is and what kind of weather it’s going to be. In Messenger, you can also ask for more information on a specific topic. However, the choice of Facebook Messenger was not entirely made by the NOS. “Our bone comes from a Campus Party challenge. The winner came with Messenger. But it’s also in line with our strategy, so we went on with it.”

However, how the NIS bone does so far is not entirely clear yet. “The chatbot is still pretty small. But we do get positive responses.”

As mentioned, Oxxio chose a chatbot within its own app. “That fits best with our strategy,” says Kramer. “There’s a place where customers can go. We also want to make more and more possible through our app, so that other platforms need less use.”

Get Started Yourself

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As mentioned, creating a chatbot isn’t very complicated nowadays. So you can do it yourself get started. On the internet, you can get quite far by simply searching for a manual, but there are also programs that let you create chatbots without writing a line of code yourself. And they often turn out to be free.

One such program is Chatfuel, which makes bots for Facebook Messenger and Telegram. In the case of Facebook, you do need a page of your own, but a profile is not enough. To get started, you’ll need to sign in to Facebook to allow Chatfuel to use your page. Then you get a tutorial right away, but you can also get started right away.

You can easily customize the welcome message by clicking on it. Under the message, you can add a menu containing a block of information, a URL, or a phone number. If you did that, you can set up artificial intelligence. That makes your blunt know what to answer when someone asks a particular question. Those answers could consist of text, as well as blocks of information and URLs, a block will place you in the same place as your welcome message.

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Next, it’s a matter of adding as much relevant information as possible so that your chatbot is as complete as possible. In between, you can easily test the bot to see if it works. When you’re done, publish the bot.

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In addition to links, you can add photos, texts, quick answers and plugins to your bot. It is also possible to send a general message from your dashboard to all people who have activated the bot. Useful if you have new information on your website or Facebook page, for example. In the dashboard, you’ll see analytics to see if your bot is used as well.

If you want a bot to use for work, Smooch is an option. This program lets you connect apps like Slack and Zendesk, and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Kik. Through one of the apps allows you to get all incoming chat notifications from the chat apps. As a team, you can answer any question through an app, which is sometimes so easy.

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