According to Econsultancy, a chatbot must adhere to three basic principles if it is to resonate with a brand’s customers: it must mimic natural conversation, offer extra convenience and value beyond the engagement channels already available to customers, and it must improve customer experience.
Ubisend’s Dean Withey goes a step further, stating that the best chatbots are also niche, fun and provide some form of timely content, and above all, must be able to serve their specified purpose.
With this in mind, we take a look at 5 chatbots that are ticking some – if not all – of the aforementioned boxes.
KLM’s service bot
KLM’s chatbot features on both the Facebook Messenger and WeChat messaging apps, and provides first line support for customer service queries.
Whilst the app starts as a fairly primitive chatbot that allows users to check information and ask questions, crucially its API feeds into the Dutch airline’s central CRM system, meaning customer service staff can manually pick up and resolve more complex queries when required.
KLM’s customer service requires a team that’s more than 200-strong in the social media department alone, highlighting the fact that this type of bot requires a huge amount of resource in order to work. However, this is precisely the commitment required for brands with the size and scale of KLM; especially given the artificial intelligence alone is not fit to offer comprehensive support. Yet.
DoNotPay’s robot lawyer
Launched in 2014, DoNotPay claims to be the world’s first robot lawyer, and began life as a bot that successfully contest 160,000 parking tickets across London and New York, for free.
The chatbot was designed by a 19-year old second-year Stanford University student, Joshua Browder, who at 18, had received 30 parking tickets in the London area and had decided something needed to be done to contest them more effectively.
Widely commended for highlighting how chatbots and AI can be more than promotional tools or marketing gimmicks, DoNotPay uses artificial intelligence to converse with its users in order to drill down into the root and solution to a legal problem.
DoNotPay has also recently branched out in reaction to Donald Trump’s travel ban, by offering a service that helps refugees fill in an immigration application in the US and Canada.
The onboarding bot
One of the most innovative uses of chatbots has been in relation to employee engagement, rather than customer engagement.
Onboarding can cost a business hundreds of hours in box-ticking exercises and subsequently can be difficult to deliver to the required level, each and every time. Yet it is a process that often impinges on an employee’s decision to stay at a company long-term.
Step forward Chief Onboarding, which has produced a Slack-integration and chatbot tool to help automate the entire onboarding schedule for new employees, sending friendly reminders, gathering information, answering questions and helping to complete tasks that would usually require a new employee to navigate through several people and systems for resolution.
According to Recruiting Daily Advisor, onboarding bots now serve a multitude of functions that can help ease the workload for already-stretched HR professionals:
A bot is a 24/7 extension of HR that can send friendly reminders, gather info, answer questions, and complete tasks that otherwise require a new employee to navigate through several people, steps, and systems.
Employees can easily “talk” with a bot however they prefer, via text, e-mail, and internal tools like Skype or Slack, making it useful for everyone from part-timers and executives to Millennials and Baby Boomers.
Bots standardize alerts, tasks, and workflows to create consistency across departments and functions and to reduce “depends on the manager” practices.
The risk of appearing ill-prepared disappears, partly because talking to a bot feels less formal and partly anonymous. Employees can get quick answers to questions they’d otherwise be afraid to ask HR or a manager—especially after months on the job.
Bots can take on the personality of the company, subtly reinforcing the credo that makes your company special.
Golden State's fan updates
NBA team, Golden State Warriors recently launched its Facebook Messenger chatbot to help provide news, scores, stats, injury reports and other relevant information for fans of the basketball franchise.
Partnering with tech platform Chatfuel, the bot is simple but responsive, delivering results quickly and effectively to a number of commands, with thousands of automated and AI-driven responses. The bot may be less sophisticated than some of the others highlighted, but fulfils its brief to provide a more personalised and instant messaging service to sports fans.
“We’ve purposefully designed the Warriors Playoffs Assistant to be more guided than free flow, but fans can certainly enter in queries and comments that hopefully we have good responses,” says Jeremy Thum, senior director of digital, at Golden State Warriors.
“It’s mainly one-on-one, and it’s a different thing we wanted to explore. The playoffs are a perfect window of heightened fan interest and activity.”
Mitsuku the conversationalist
Mitsuku won the infamous Loebner Prize in 2013, considered to be the most human-like of any chatbot in the prize’s 20+ year history.
Whilst not a customer-facing bot, Mitsuku offers an example of the type of enriched artificial intelligence required to be able to truly offer a fully-automated, conversational bot.
Chatbot Magazine states you can “talk with Mitsuku for hours without getting bored. It replies to your question in the most humane way and understands your mood with the language you’re using”. As the sophistication of chatbots improves, this level of depth will become the new norm.
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.