We are once again in the middle of once in a decade paradigm shift. It is about how humans will interact with the digital world in front of them. Within a few years, it will be through natural language that is used in everyday communication, called as Conversational Interface. How will this happen? The introduction of bots signify a change from command-based functioning to conversation-based functioning. In this article, we talk about why bots will be the new internet mania in the upcoming years and will most probably overthrow mobile apps and web applications.
MACHINES-LEARNING TO BE US
Natural language is a platform via which the humans communicate with each other, via both speech and text. For a machine, this natural language is messy and full of nuisance with the amount of context it carries. Only in the last few decades, it has been possible to find a way to upload something as complicated as a human language in machine terms. With the help of deep learning, natural language processing, and artificial intelligence it has been recently possible to extract meaning out of human communication with a decent level of accuracy.
ARE WE CLOSE TO ACHIEVING PERFECTION? NOT EVEN CLOSE!
Can we embed a sense of context into the way bots talk to you? Sounds so easy, right? WRONG! With billions of cells and trillions of connections, we doubt if all the chips available put together can get you anywhere close to human consciousness. But, considering we need only certain aspects of the human functioning to make a good business deal, chatbots in the e-commerce industry do not seem far-fetched. In fact, it is the opposite of far-fetched, it is already out there.
The use of chatbots to facilitate one’s business is growing at a staggering rate. One can blindly bet on chatbots to be cheaper, faster and to perform better than their human substitutes. No wonder anyone into any domain of business wants to have one of their own. The rise and rise of chatbots are evident from masses of their kind rolling out from every platform that aids in compiling a bot.
WHY BOTS OVER SITES?
For one reason, the users love their chatbots alias their shopping assistants, is that they can ask effortlessly what they want in their own terms (your daily spoken language). When a bot can recognize speech, it makes it hands free - which for the tech-phobic population especially the aged, totally eliminates the tech barrier. And if you are left stranded in the middle, clueless about what to do next, your tech assistant will guide you. It is like signing up for an informative tour guide who helps you when you need it. This helps in smoothing out the friction that arises in a conversation. In addition, they can reply to the users with multimedia texts, smart buttons etc. which makes them remarkably better than even a sales executive.
LIFE AFTER THE ERA OF CHATBOTS
Let's meet Sophia. Sophia is a busy woman in her 30-s who is from the future. Before she tucks into her bed, she asks her chatbot about her calendar for tomorrow, if she is clearing her work-out goals, asks to set an alarm. At her breakfast, she asks about the weather for today. She is then reminded of her assistance to take her medication. She suddenly is reminded of her favorite game she failed to catch up. So, she checks on the highlights of last night’s baseball game. She asks her to help her with the exquisite dinner she has planned to make for her friends tonight. After this, she is reminded of the meetings and the discussion that will have to be presented that morning. On Jill’s train ride to her work, she uses her chatbot to look upon the sales projections and prepare a powerpoint for the meeting. In the meeting, she digs deeper into the numbers with the help of her assistance. With voice, she can formulate deep queries without having to click or type. On her way back she calls up her favorite pizza place and it is answered by Domino’s voice assistance - Dom.
Isn’t it surprising that something as new as a chatbot can pave its way into something as basic as an analog phone? Do you see how the idea of chatbots could be revolutionary?
Talking about the key difference between a web application/app and a bot is that, the interface inbuilt in the bots is the natural day-to-day language spoken. After all, natural language is what every human understands. You don’t have to teach, you don't have to preach. Every user is already aware of their command language.
Instead of typing in and searching a way out of your website, you will have to ask and tell. This makes navigation all the more easier.
With bots, it is easier to enhance a personalized experience. They remember the conversations that were had with a particular customer, and keep track of their preferences and choices. What results is an amazing user experience where next time, the user does not have to start all-over.
Native apps and web applications have a lot of static options inbuilt in them. With a lot of these options and complicated navigation routes, the user could easily get lost. On the other hand, chatbots guide you at each and every step and make it clear where you are at.
Asking is a more intuitive way to fulfill a task rather than to keep pressing a bunch of buttons. Familiarity offered by chatbots means no learning curve. This improves the speed of getting the results. There is no need to download apps with chatbots.
LIMITATION OF SPACE
With a small screen, only a certain number of options can be displayed at a time. With chatbots, any option you wish to navigate to is always a word away from you. This removes the friction and makes the user-experience very smooth.
With all the benefits it offers, the business world has already invested a lot in making this happening. The technology and potential are still in its infancy with the immediate solves being in interaction design, business cases to apply, removing interaction constraints and acceptance. The big win is that the technology has inherent automation, machine learning, and 24 x 7 intelligent availability. Soon every business will support the engagement of their already available services through a chatbot. Soon customers will expect the providers to come up with an omnichannel experience wherein you keep track of what has been said and done by them before. To feature this, chatbots are the go-to's.