Is the next step in engaging customers chatting with robots? More companies are betting that this is the way we are going. Chatbots, or chatterbots, are a computer program that conduct a conversation, whether an audible one or via a texting platform.
The ideas being created for chatbots involve shopping assistant bots, entertainment bots, and customer service bots. There are even bots that emulate chatting to a date, so one can get practice in that skill set.
Are chatbots going to insert themselves as part of the omnichannel experience, engaging and informing customers?
Messaging platforms are suggesting that they will. Kik has launched an online store for chatbots, to allow brands to talk to users via bots. It is predicted that Facebook will launch a bot at the F8 conference. Last week, though it failed, Microsoft experimented with a bot named Tay on Twitter.
Assuming chatbot publishers can get safety controls in place to accommodate a rogue AI entity (Tay or yikes ... Skynet),they will be tasked with monetizing the chatbots, syncing the chatbots with the brand, and a controlled learning algorithm to make it more engaging to a customer.
Will chatbots live up to human interaction?
Retailers will want a chatbot that researches and recommends based on a customer's requirement and possibly even one that completes the purchase.
Would a chatbot pass the Turing test in a conversation while it is trying to influence a sale, or would the cold calculated logic of AI ring through?
What could a customer experience with a chatbot sound like?
Me: I do not know what shoes to buy.
T1000: I have searched for the latest fashion trends and amalgamated the results for your sex, demographic and assumed activity level based on your BMI. I recommend the brown tie loafers with dusty red accents, size 11W.
Me: Um, I do not like brown.
T1000: Based on their social media profiles, your girlfriend, and your mother do. You are in a rut of wearing black unstylish shoes to everything for the past 6 years.Trust me.
Me: I am not buying shoes to impress my girlfriend or my mother.
T1000: In that case, your immediate supervisor as well as the VP of your division like brown shoes, too. In fact they just bought a similar pair. And based on your lack of raise for the past 14 months, you need all the help you can get.
Me: What the…..? How can you see how much I make? My BMI? How do you know……?
T1000: Your LinkedIn profile, I have three security cameras pointed at you calculating your body type and am scanning your mobile phone for bank account access. By the way, after processing the shoe purchase, I noticed your credit card is nearly maxed out.
Me: But I haven’t seen the shoes yet.
T1000: Do not worry, they will look nice. Here is a montage of your Facebook photos with the shoes superimposed onto your feet. While you watch I will play “Time of your Life” from your favorite movie, Dirty Dancing.
Me: That’s not my favorite movie.
T1000: Yes it is.
Kik Bot has signed up some major brands in partnerships to start delivering the chatbot presence in the omnichannel world, and other messaging platforms are opening up to developers to build e-commerce and advertising bots. I look forward to talking to one, soon, or, maybe I already have.