Chatbots aren’t just for big name tech brands and retail — small businesses stand to gain plenty from them, as well. And it’s not just about maintaining a professional business identity with the right communications front. Small businesses should consider chatbots to streamline common features of the company website and support functions — thereby saving time and money, while boosting sales.
After testing a handful of bots, I found that most were boring, frustrating, and more complicated to use than a website, an app, or even picking up the phone. So how can bots evolve to become useful, and — dare I say it — lovable? I was recently challenged with building one, and here is what I learned...
One of the key ways designing for conversational user interfaces (CUIs) differs from graphic user interfaces (GUIs) is that use cases are necessarily constraining. Because CUIs are voice-based interactions between a customer and a machine that’s learning to be human, we have infinite possibilities of what the human will say. While we may not be able to predict every potential rabbit hole, CUI needs to consider at least design an infrastructure that mimics how conversations work and are contextually driven.
At Kik, we remain bullish on bots, but we’ve noticed the same thing everyone else has: so far, there has been no killer bot. Part of the misfire with the conversational aspect of bots has to do with the fact that natural language processing and artificial intelligence are not yet accomplished at managing human-like conversations. It’s also important to note that we don’t think bots are going to replace apps any time soon. That’s not the point. The point is that people are increasingly spending their time in chat apps, so we’re building experiences inside chat that allow people to do more while they’re there. That’s why bots are so interesting.