How Chatbots Will Come into their Own in 2017

More and more people are using digital platforms to communicate, from Whatsapp and Telegram, to Facebook Messenger and Google Hangouts. Last year, a new player joined the market: the chatbot, which is fast becoming an important interface for the user as well as a fundamental mode of interaction between companies and their customers. Portada’s digital media correspondent Pedro Labarta explains how chatbots should develop further.

In 2016, when chatbots –automated simulators of online conversations– were created, their use was mainly limited to basic elements of the user experience and direct conversation. In 2017, platforms are allowing chatbot designers to build richer interfaces within their content. Now, these automated conversations can be more effective, more visually attractive and easier to implement. What is needed is for this knowledge to be disseminated between brands and their users—first, to make the public more aware of the existence of chatbots; second, so that chatbots can be used more; and finally, that consumers get out of them what they need.

Creating a chatbot can amount to a US$  $100,000+ investment. But if it is developed correctly, it can translate into savings of an entire customer service department.

In 2017, platforms are allowing chatbot designers to build richer interfaces within their content.

As a user, I find that chatbots are not very efficient if they provide incorrect information. This means that brands need to adapt to the needs of this technology in order to make it work. Ultimately, its goal is to provide greater services and more productive workflows.

Chatbots’ objective is to provide better services and more productive workflows.

On the other hand, not everything becomes simpler through a conversation. Sometimes, as users, we simply want to click on a button and choose an option. Or, better yet, get the information we need, when we need it—without having to ask for it. The exciting thing about chatbots is that they are now evolving to be able to do just that.
Phil Libin, former CEO of Evernote.

As Phil Libin, former CEO of software company Evernote, said: “Start with building a great product, and then think: what can I do now to present it in a way that wasn’t possible before because the technology did not exist?”

Google, for example, has greatly improved its personal assistant. Its chatbot already distinguishes the language you speak and can follow commands through your mobile phone, whether it’s listening to music, sending an email or opening a game, among many other activities.

Cloud-based software company Slack has already developed an application programming interface (API) that allows different bots to interact with the app to make users’ lives much easier, and able to interact with them.

Payment platform KIK has developed a bot that allows users to make payments. The global transactions value of this development has been estimated at more than $3 billion, once people start using it on a regular basis beginning in 2018.

Facebook Messenger will now allow you to search for a specific song and play it from the same platform on your smartphone, as announced last week at the company’s F8 event. Facebook estimates that more than 800 million people will be using this platform by the end of 2017.

Facebook estimates that more than 800 million people will be using chatbots by the end of 2017.

This year will also see advances in other chatbot capabilities, such as improved search, interactivity, and the ability to manipulate user experience and monetization. Last but not least is advertising. We will have to find the spaces necessary to interact with our future clients through third parties.