Chatbots are the future of the social web. They are also the temporary future of the social web until intelligent agents change the entire way we engage with brands, people and properties online. In the future of intelligent agents, humans will do a fraction of the work we currently do to book trips, make appointments, shop, or research. Instead, we will have our own intelligent agents who we will use natural human language to engage with us and who will work on our behalf with other intelligent agents to do things like book travel, buy Christmas presents, set up meetings, and find answers to our questions. Before we get to that, we will see a change in the way that people are consuming online content.
Right now when we consume online content, we have to search for it and then read the content. We go to websites with search toolbars and long pages of various differentiated content where a web designer and a company have decided what is or should be the most relevant information. When we go to social media platforms, we do much the same thing except the only information that is being surfaced to us is the most recent content or the one that a social platform algorithm has determined will be the most relevant.
What if the paradigm changed? What if brands had smart engaging chatbots that messaged me when they thought I’d want to know something or that joined a conversation with my friend group when we wanted to know where to eat dinner or watch a movie? What if I could just go to a brand’s website and ask it the questions I wanted to know and it would give me the answer without me having to search for it? What if I could go to a department store website, stand in front of my camera on my computer and ask a chatbot what would look best on me from the entire catalogue in the store and it could respond with the three things it recommends I buy?
This is what the future of a chatbot forward world could look like. It’s a world in which the user experience of consuming the web has changed and as result how we engage on social platforms will change. If a department store can make a smart quirky engaging chatbot that I humanize with a name, who learns me, and readily engages with my likes and interests, I wont need social media pages – I’ll have true personalized human connections. Like calling my mother, I will remember to “call” the chatbot when I need her.
For those of you who are building social media platforms and strategically planning for the next decade, the future of chatbots should be on your horizon. In the way that apps, were the thing of the late aughts and early teens, chatbots will dominate the next five years. Brian Roemmele, the payments expert, recently argued in a Medium article about Viv (the intelligence agent being created by the team behind Siri) that when:
“Viv Labs … (opens)… the system up to developers….I am predicting a land rush similar to when Apple opened up the App store for the iPhone.”
The future will be in determining how to best use these chatbots to do what your customer needs on your website or social channels. It will simply replace the app as a means to source content to the individual because it will be more streamlined, require fewer steps and be more personal and relevant to the customer. It wont just replace the app, though. It will replace how you do business, how your web properties exist and how we engage broadly.
So, do you need a chatbot? Yes.
Now, how do you create a chatbot? It is still very early days in the world of chatbot creation and as such, there are not a lot of tools and resources for determining how to make a chatbot and answering the question for businesses of how to create their own chatbot. So, start with determining your value add:
- What is the unique experience that you think a chatbot could bring to your customer?
- Will there be something that chatbot can do that your customer currently struggles with?
The next step would be to source out an agency or developers who can help you bring this to life. They will guide you through both the UX, UE, and back-end experience necessary to enact. It’s the wild west out there for chatbots, so dont expect this to be cheap or easy. What it will do is help to put you at the front of the market and as the category lead with your solution and that alone might be worth the effort.