“Chatbots? Yeah, I have heard of it…”

We all remember those “bots” from the past, from some teenage chat rooms, forums and games. They were the ones who once told us how to behave and taught us the rules (e.g. don’t use Cap Lock). Today, however, Chatbots provide new channels through which companies and marketers can instantly interact with customers  and significantly increase their customer relationships and sales. Chatbots are essentially computer programs that simulate human conversation by means of artificial intelligence (AI) and natural programming language. Used in various industries such as travel for travel bots (Expedia), customer service (Uber ) and gaming for gamebots such as those found on Kik, they are typically limited to conversation regarding their specialization.

The idea of a Chatbot itself is not new:

  • It is growing in the number of linked services (interfaces)
  • The machines’ understanding of text (artificial intelligence) is ever-improving
  • They offer a daily attractive user experience platform

The most common activity on a laptops, tablets or smartphones next to social networking is using messenger apps such as iMessenger, WeChat or WhatsApp. Nowadays Messenger apps are looking to enhance the user experience of their platforms with chatbots. Chatbots have the advantage of being versatile as they can be used in any line of B2B or B2C or vice versa communication. Well-programmed bots need not be limited to simply placing a requested order for a customer, but rather can also propose appropriate products and answer questions similar to what staff in a shop would do or ask questions to execute a more refined search.

Users are not required to leave the chat environment, neither do they require any additional app installation, content search on a company website or in a shop. All this with an around the clock reachability seven days a week. Companies are awakening to these great benefits.

A New Way of Customer Interaction

Customer interaction ever since computers came out has been operational i.e. websites and apps but is now shown to be shifting to conversational i.e. chatbots and voice interaction. A basic scenario of what an interaction with a gamebot would be in a simple game of tic tac toe (naughts and crosses) is with Tickers the bot who introduces himself before asking the player if he/she wants to challenge a friend or Tickers himself. Throughout the game Tickers goads the player’s every move with comments such as “Is that the best you can do?” until the winner emerges where he either arrogantly concedes defeat by blaming it on his incorrect algorithm or shames the player for even trying to take him on when he wins. All of which adds a human touch to playing against a computer.

How Gamebots Work

Chatbots with HTML5 development are  still in its infancy. In a broad sense a gamebot is a character controlled by a computer which facilitates single player or multiplayer game play without having to be online. Major players in the industry providing gamebots are Facebook Messenger, Kik, Telegram, Softgames and Hello Mini-Games by M-Biz Global.

These mini-games are interesting, catchy and addictive, they are accompanied by rewards and competition, all of which make for a more easy to achieve user engagement. Moreover, given that bots are not easy to beat in gaming, they require players to spend time in the chatbot improving their game skills, thus also spurring user engagement within chatbots. Social chatbots help with new customer acquisition for gamebots where friends can share and show off how good or dismally they are performing against the bot in encouragement for others to try too. Alternatively, friends can challenge one another to a game. This new way of social interaction in chatbots through gaming can create a multiplication effect for the games and/or the brands they represent, rendering major benefits in the way of increased brand awareness, leads, sales, downloads and installs.

Technological development will most likely determine the development path trajectory for gamebots. At the beginning of 2016 the first Chatbots that did not make you feel like the communication exchange was with a machine were implemented on Facebook. Everyone who wants to benefit from the emergence of new business opportunities and business models should be lining up in the front NOW.