The Chatbot Roundup: Here’s What You Need to Know

Posted by
Rita Romero
LivePerson Contributor
Tuesday, June 28, 2016 - 09:50

It’s all about expectations when it comes to bots. Should you dive in? Yes…but with the right mindset. For brands, this means employing a strategic, human-led approach.

With the rise of bots (like many a trend) comes endless information, opinions, and dialogues. To cut through the noise, we’ve rounded up the best of bot articles below. Enjoy!

Bot basics: consumers, brands, and the chatbot revolution.

Consumers chose messaging as the primary communication channel. In fact, the combined user base of the top four chat apps is larger than that of the top four social networks.

So, where do chatbots fit into the social/messaging mix? In a nutshell: Chatbots enable brands to connect with consumers through platforms like Facebook Messenger, where they're already communicating with family and friends. When Facebook empowered brands to connect with its 900 million active users on Messenger, it forever changed the brand-to-consumer relationship.

HubSpot breaks down the Facebook bot basics and explains the implications for both consumer and brand.

"Bot" is a generalized term used to describe any software that automates a task.

Source: HubSpot’s Facebook Bots Guide 

Today, consumers don’t need to find and download a new app to chat with their favorite brands, as DestinationCRM points out. In familiar platforms, chatbots automate answers to basic questions, process orders, and send shipping updates. The result: a more efficient, satisfying user experience.

From the DestinationCRM article, “Brands Bet on Bots”“Through bots, software developers will be able to circumvent app stores and reach consumers more directly by making the basic email and messaging tools people use every day smarter.”

Dubbed the next big trend, the opportunities bots promise brands to seamlessly connect with and please consumers are endless.

LivePerson’s general manager and SVP of global small business Tom Byun explains why bots are a tech trend to watch on The Garage from GoDaddy. As he notes, it’s crucial that companies big and small understand when and how to use bots to build more meaningful relationships.

“When consumers reach out to a brand, they want it fast and easy, but they also want to feel heard and valued.”

– Tom Byun for The Garage

The human side of bots.

Bots can handle simple tasks (think: ordering flowers or booking flights) but depend on humans to carry out more complex requests. While the potential for what can be automated is great, the risk of a poor experience when bots cannot handle customer requests is even greater. That’s why bots will never replace the human touch.

In an L2 article, “The Chatbots Aren't Invading — Yet”, LivePerson CEO Rob LoCascio explains the risk of diving all in on bots without the backing of more strategic customer care.

“When consumers try to use a bot or virtual agent, there is a high error rate, which drives low customer satisfaction and ultimately a very expensive phone call.”

– Rob Locascio for L2

There’s no doubt that the potential of bots is enormous, but brands shouldn’t sacrifice the customer experience for convenience. In most cases, emotional intelligence trumps artificial intelligence. As Rob asks on VentureBeat: “Would you trust a bot? Conversational commerce depends on it.

“Conversational commerce and mobile messaging have the potential to radically transform the relationship between people and brands, but the main focus should be on making the experience a satisfying and engaging one for the consumer.”

– Rob Locascio for VentureBeat

People can’t form real relationships with bots, and, in the experience economy, relationships are the golden ticket to lasting success. For quick questions or self-serve consumers, chatbot technology serves its purpose, but for those more complex conversations or opportunities to create lasting consumer relationships, make room for a human connection. In a recent Inc. article discussing why the bot evolution must be human led, Rob cautions brands that without the human-to-human connection, they’ll lose consumers to competition.

“Empathy is key in building a connection with customers, and that's something only a human can offer. Brands that don't show their empathetic side will see customers go elsewhere.”

– Rob Locascio for Inc.

The risk of chatbots.

It’s clear bots have great potential, but they also come with enormous risk. In a TechCrunch article on the bot backlash, Rob explains the limits of bots and why they’ll never supersede humans.

“Conversational interfaces are only as good as the communicator on the other end. If bots are only serving as text-based substitutes for automated phone systems, then we’re just providing consumers with another channel for frustration.”

– Rob Locascio for TechCrunch

When bots take on too much, the customer experience suffers (that’s just one of the reasons why TechCrunch thinks chatbots suck). The bottom line: Chatbots aren’t as intelligent as humans, so stick to the simple FAQs for now and let human-led strategy and conversation take your brand’s consumer engagements to the next level.

Join the chatbot revolution! And do it with the scale, security, and engagement of LivePerson: LiveEngage lets you escalate your conversations from a bot to a human being to establish more meaningful connections in your customer relationships.

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