Chatbots of today: Living true to their purpose?

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"Why are you launching this chatbot?" asks Yoav Barel, Founder, and CEO, Chatbot Summit, to those planning a new chatbot.

"Because we have to," is the answer he often gets.

A $500M market growing at over 30% annually - the fact is, chatbots are becoming the conversations of today and tomorrow. And that's where the biggest danger lies. Newer chatbots are getting launched in the market at a fast pace, but only a few understand their clear value.

Result? Confusion. Hype. Noise.

In our first article, we explored the building blocks of a chatbot. This time, let's examine the status of chatbots in the market today.

Finding the purpose:

According to Yoav, "The question to ask while developing a chatbot is, what purpose is your chatbot fulfilling? No matter who is creating it, every chatbot needs to have a clear and defined purpose."

Let's look at five categories of such chatbot purpose with examples:


1. THE SOLVER

The Utility chatbot solves specific tasks for us. Think digital assistants to set reminders, choose tickets or pay bills. One great example of this is Haptik's digital assistant. With its recent integration with Amazon Pay, Haptik is entering the zone of selling as well.

2. THE HELPER

The Customer Service Chatbot aims to address customer queries. Example: KLM's chatbot, the first airline to bet on Facebook messenger. Starting from booking confirmation and customer queries, it now responds to emojis with location trackers. And with its entry into the Whatsapp business platform, KLM today serves customers digitally, in over ten languages.

3. THE TEACHER

The Content Chatbot's objective is to provide information. Poncho is a great illustration of that. . Its purpose is to give information on weather. And the way it does that in a cool, quirky manner is what makes the content itself interesting.

4. THE SELLER

The Conversational Commerce chatbot aims to complete a sale transaction through conversation. Example: 1-800 flowers. It has proved that chatbots are less than a call away. Many new customers find it easier to order flowers through a chat as compared to a call.

5. THE STORYTELLER

The Advertising chatbot is not a separate chatbot by itself. But just imagine being able to see the right advertisement as you are conversing with a chatbot without requiring a separate download or an additional click. Haptik's tie up with HDFC Life in India does just that. It simplifies insurance advice through a 60-second chatbot based quiz. Result? The company can personalize its offerings.

But despite all the blazing growth of the industry across the five categories, not all chatbots are doing well. Let's investigate why.

Measuring Metrics that Matter:

The best way of cutting the noise around chatbots is to focus on performance metrics. Across the five categories, here's how the average key metrics stack up.


Customer Support chatbots have already proven their mettle, to a considerable extent. With Facebook opening up its messenger platform, many companies have embraced chatbots, especially for Customer Service. Globe Telecom's Customer Service chatbot, Gie, claims to have improved customer satisfaction by 22%, lowered service calls by 50%, and saved 10% within a year. But enterprise chatbots may not be what we always need.

Verticalized, direct-to-consumer chatbots can solve problems beyond Customer Service. That's where Utility chatbots such as Haptik or Vernacular have started to build innovative vertical offerings.

What about commerce though? Commerce chatbots have not yet proven their case despite promising to make sales easier through conversation. In our previous article , we spoke about the need for design and character to build great chatbots. But to keep the conversations from breaking is the biggest challenge. And that's where the human-bot hand-off is used smartly by bots such as Haptik and the one launched by Operator for guided commerce between China and US.

The other issue that challenges chatbots is language context. Building cultural context is anyway not easy, and becomes even tougher when the domain spreads beyond English. That's the premise behind Sourabh Gupta's chatbot firm, Vernacular.ai. "Imagine being able to speak to your bank in your language! We develop verticalized vernacular conversations," explains Sourabh.

While customer service, utility, and commerce chatbots will continue to grow, I feel that the biggest untapped areas for chatbots are in the areas of advertising and content.

Let's see an example:


HBO recently launched the Game of Thrones (GOT) chatbot that interacts with users, providing them GOT information all the while cracking a few jokes. And through this chat, it stores customer preference data that can help HBO improve the GOT ratings even further.

Do we see an emergence of such personality driven chatbots giving us news and personalized offerings in the future? More on that, coming soon.

This article is authored by Debleena Majumdar, it's part 2 of a 3-part series on chatbots brought to you by Haptik and Business Insider. It looks at why chatbots are growing the way they are, who chatbots can help and what they are capable of doing alongside highlighting the key opportunities and challenges. At the end of the series, we will also provide a consolidated and detailed report that you can download.







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