Chat Bot Services for Your New Customer Experience

Marvin from the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy
By Trevor Clarke, Tech Research Asia co-founder and director

New interfaces and ways of engaging with our customers are quickly maturing and spreading. Chatbots aren’t new, but are part of this exciting new domain of the customer (and employee) experience. Below Tech Research Asia (TRA) provides a brief introduction.

What is a chat bot? Well, easier asked than answered. There are several contested definitions of chat bots and if you do go down this path you might need to read up on the various positions. But for the time being, the easiest way of understanding the term is to think of them as software tools that simulate human conversation - written or spoken - for the purposes of delivering a service or experience.

They can be very basic chat bots – or conversational bots – that have pre-determined and never changing answers which are triggered based on key words. Or more complex interfaces that learn, analyse, and evolve what they say over time the more it engages. Once you dive into this world, you’ll see there are so many ways they can be applied.

Some things to consider when you evaluate and deploy chat bots:

What are you actually trying to achieve? Having a specific purpose and a well-articulated logic behind your goals for the chatbot will help ensure it delivers the right outcomes.

How well integrated is your chatbot to your other systems and content? Providing users with the right content/information and ensuring you are capturing data effectively is just as important with chatbots as it is with any other interaction with a customer.

Language matters. What voice is best for your chatbot? Or do you want to offer personalisation? Hitting the right tone that represents your brand is harder than you think. Especially in the widely linguistically and culturally diverse Asia Pacific region.

Which channel are you deploying in and why? Knowing which channels (own website, apps, and social media) are most effective when engaging the target audience may be different from when a human employee interacts. It won’t always be a case of replacing traditional communication channels.

Do you have human support at the ready? Some people don’t like bots. Many times bots won’t be able to help your customers. Sometimes you’ll need people to assist.

Test, test, and test again. A poor experience with a chat bot will have an impact on your brand. This risk shouldn’t make you think chat bots aren’t worth exploring, but being diligent is just smart.

Some of the chat bot platforms you should include in your evaluation are:

Microsoft’s Bot Framework

Imperson

Robot.me

Facebook Messenger

Pandorabots

Parlo

Line

DigitalGenius

The Personality Forge

Chatfuel

Slack’s Bot Tutorial

IBM Watson Conversation

Motion AI

Botsify

Gupshup

Converse

Dexter

Beep Boop

Text It

API.ai

Google Assistant

VoiceLabs

Dashbot.io

Notify.io

Amazon’s Alexa and Amazon Lex

Botkit

Octane AI

Telegram

Init.ai

Kit Bot

Conversica

Apple's Siri

It’s important to note that there are many other ways to build dumb and AI-driven bots across a whole range of platforms that we haven’t discussed here. There are lots of developers, academics and hobbyists working on their own versions now. Do some discovery and you may find your own unique opportunity.

Most of the above have examples of bots that have been built already, and you can try talking to them yourself. Keep in mind that while bots have been around for a long time, for the average consumer they are still a novelty. But it’s a novelty TRA expects to quickly turn into a status quo component of customer experiences.