What is the definition of a chatbot?
A. A digital toy manipulated by middle schoolers into swearing and other naughtiness.
B. An interminable gossip.
C. A computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.
If you chose C, the Oxford Dictionary definition, congrats—you passed the test. If you chose A or B, better keep reading.
It's Not A Person
Even though chatbots may soon mediate the majority of our customer service interactions, you may still be a little sketchy on what they really do. If that’s the case, skim one of these 101s on the history and use of the chatbot to get the gist: one is a post by someone who builds chatbots and one is from Chatbots Magazine. Yep, that’s right, the chatbots have gotten together and written their own mag.
It's In The Midst Of A Land Grab
So chatbots can be efficient and helpful to your business, but how do you decide which one to use? There are a lot of factors, including the size of your business, your level of coding skill, and how you want to use the bot. To get a sense of the range of possibilities, take a look at these ten entry-level options in the front-runner mosh pit.
It Pretends To Be A Human
Customer service is the obvious use for chatbots, but developers are also exploring outside the box. From chats that keep insomniacs and dementia patients company to games and organizational tools, the future of bots is still wide open. But beware: as every sci-fi movie ever made has warned us, giving bots their own agency can lead us all down a dark path…
It Can Have Charisma. Or Not.
Who does it well? Sephora (of course), 1-800-Flowers (more surprising). But designing a chatbot with personality is no small feat, and an entire industry is springing up to help your little botster turn on the charm.