How does a chatbot work?

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In the era of Social Networks, communications between brands and customers have become increasingly direct, fast, efficient, human and effective. True, nothing can replace the face-to-face chat, but there are many innovations that a brand can exploit to get as close as possible to this precious result.

And here, in the modern social, economic and relational context, the recent development of Chatbots can become an opportunity for a company not to be missed and for several reasons. But what are Chatbots? What are their characteristics? And how do they work?

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Chatbots are software capable of simulating human behavior and intelligent conversation between two people, just like in a common chat, thanks to the use of technologies Artificial Intelligence. These are virtual assistants capable of responding to user requests.

As the name suggests, composed of the English verb to chat, chat, and bots, Chatbots are chats where one of the two interlocutors is not a human being but a virtual robot to chat with, to which ask for information and request assistance.

Chatbots, in concrete terms, are programs that allow you to set up and manage the automatic interaction of instant messaging , a communication tool valuable for companies, both to connect with their customers and to promote offers, products and services, and to offer an efficient after-sales service of Customer Care.

Chat Bots are based on messaging platforms, such as Facebook Messenger and Telegram, but just think of Siri, the virtual assistant for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, in Cortona, the Windows assistant, and Google Now, the virtual assistant for Android smartphones and tablets.

The functions of the Chat Bots

Currently, different types of Chat bots have been created and the most widely used ones are those that allow you to:

  • provide users with timely news about topics that he himself has selected;
  • offer specific discounts and promotions to its customers;
  • respond at any time to requests for information from customers (or potential customers) and to do so by returning them punctual and relevant information, efficient responses;
  • purchase the selected products without having to abandon the instant messaging interface;
  • provide immediate support for the purchase of products or services of an e-commerce.

The characteristics of the Chatbots

Why is it convenient for a company to invest in integrating a Chatbot into its Social Media Strategy?

The answer is in the very characteristics of the Chatbots, which are:

  • convenient , both because many platforms integrate this social networking service within them, and because making an ad hoc one is not particularly expensive, or, moreover, because saves resources in terms of time and money. A Chatbot, in fact, unlike what a single being could do human, is able to respond and manage a potentially infinite number of chats and requests from users;
  • efficient and instant , as Chatbots are always active, every day, 24 hours a day, thus reducing the waiting time for a response to the user and offering them the best solution with immediacy. In this way, Chatbots are able to meet the needs of customers and users quickly and efficiently;
  • courteous and polite . Courtesy and education are fundamental qualities for a brand that wants to maintain profitable relationships with users and its customers. Often, in fact, the problem with chats is that whoever offers support and assistance and at that moment represents the brand cannot keep calm in all situations, always contacting with courtesy, education and kindness, qualities that the Chatbots ensure, in any type of conversation;
  • precise and capable of solving user problems . Chatbots are software that accurately respond to users’ requests and who know how to solve their problems concretely. Not only that, because these intelligent conversation systems, over time, understand how to make the answer to those who type the question more efficient and accurate.

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Chatbots must be associated with a page that supports them (for example Facebook) and, once installed, they will intercept every message that a user sends privately to the page in question (think about Facebook Messenger). Depending on the default settings, the Chatbots respond immediately and effectively to the requests of the users, conversing with them and evolving interaction after interaction.

It’s not all here, because each Chatbot is associated with a web address, so that brands can promote their Chatbots with ad hoc strategies or even with buttons and calls to action that will cause users to consult and use them.

The great advantage of Chatbots is that it is the user who decides to sign up and access the chat and, therefore, will no longer be interrupted and disturbed with promotional messages, often invasive, but he himself will decide to contact the Chatbot, to choose the number of times and the situations in which he wants to connect with the bot and the brand, to determine if he wants to receive notifications or not.

Another innovation that boosted the functionality and effectiveness of Chatbots was the integration of payments into the chat, so allowing companies to sell their products and services directly through the chat itself, with a few clicks and without users having to abandon the conversation in place.

Chatbot: Opportunity or Alienation?

There are many opportunities that Chatbots offer brands: the ability to communicate promotions instantly, the efficiency of conversations, the ability to solve problems, the effectiveness of the service of Social Customer Care, to remind you of the most important ones.

Of course there is no shortage of criticism. There are those who say, in fact, that Chatbots are another step towards the alienation of human conversations.

What do you think? Do you think Chatbots hold more opportunities or more dangers?

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