The value of Bots to B2B businesses: the impact of Siri and others on mobile customers

For the large population of iPhone users, Siri changed the way people use their phones and interact with information - a huge achievement for the simple bot - which by definition is a "type of conversational agent, a computer program designed to simulate an intelligent conversation with one or more human users via auditory or textual messages."

Bot logic

Acccording to a recent article by marketing services agency Gyro, while Siri maybe a household name, the evolution of messaging bots (aka chatbots by some), which tackle tasks with written answers, have absolutely exploded in growth.

Facebook Messenger's use of bots includes staggering statistics of up to 900 million monthly active users worldwide and an estimated 10,000 developers working on bots for the Facebook Messenger platform according to a recent report delivered by ArcTouch.

Bots are proliferating in business at a speed unseen since the advent of apps and the technology makes it possible to automate any number of tasks, such as ordering a part, writing up an estimate, answering customer queries and FAQs, or even pre-qualifying prospects.

By bringing together personable conversation with automated efficiency, bots have the capability to improve the overall customer service experience and the key is to develop a dialogue that comes across as authentic and direct.

Creating the perfect blend of conversation and code, is the secret sauce says Omar Pera, co-founder of Reply.ai, in the article which builds enterprise-level bot solutions. “You need to guide the user through the conversation you want to have with them. If not, your bot’s going to end up saying things like ‘I don’t understand’ multiple times, and the user will just end up abandoning the experience.”

More and more people will soon expect the seamless customer experience that bots deliver. If your brand can’t provide it, your customers will go to another business that can. Bots bring the conversation back to where it needs to be: at the center of your customer interactions.

Bots can enable businesses to turn their thought leadership into an interactive dialogue. Customers can ask what’s going on in the industry, and businesses can reply with a catchy snippet and a link to a white paper, if customers care to dig deeper. Or customers could sign up for freshly re-imagined news notifications.

Additionally, if customers can search a catalog just as easily, with a bot serving as a sales assistant, too, answering any product questions as they come up.

Companies building internal bots to manage vast libraries of phones, tablets and other devices that are used to test and develop apps, eliminating the need for low-tech paper based system.

Bots can also help simplify the B-to-B purchasing process. Customers could check on billing balances, explore payment options and make payments, too. The key to developing a bot is similar to developing any mobile app. The bot should provide an engaging, delightful but most importantly a useful experience.

Defining the persona group and developing user stories is important as the bot must always be consistent with the other elements of the brand or style. Creating a bot character with a style that represents brand values and uses bot humor or colloquialisms puts people at ease when conversing with the bot. A good example is Bostworth, Kik's developer bot, who is a dignified helper able to offer ways to find information and guidance while developing a chatbot on the Kik platform.

The goal is to bring new and loyal customers to a bot and offer a good experience with it which in turn keeps customers coming and spreads the word to other potential users. Bots have an additional advantage and that is that a bot application requires no download which means it is easier for users to try.

Additionally, ongoing investments being made in the technology of bots means that they are moving well beyond a basic understanding of human questions to simulating the human mind. For example, a startup Hu:toma is working on using deep learning technology to help companies and developers create "emotionally evolved" conversations with users via text or voice. What makes Hu:toma different is that it actually learns from past conversations so that it can assemble answers on the fly rather than resort to preprogrammed, stock answers. It is a clear sign of some of the more innovative developments why bots and Artificial Intelligence truly connect.

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