Humans have had conversations since our brains developed the ability to express ourselves through language. Our thoughts, behaviors, and relationships are centered around the conversations we have in life. When building products, we discuss ideas and devise solutions with our team, we converse with our users to get feedback and understand what they want, so, naturally, the art of conversation has become a part of how we interact with computers and especially mobile services.
Products that are adopting this evolution of technology and the power of conversational commerce and chatbots are thriving and are already ahead of the curve for the future. Companies like Operator that use messaging to help you find “anything you want” are paving the way. Operator utilizes a conversational UI and human power to make a seamless user experience while leveraging the power of bots.
If you haven’t started to implement some form of conversational UI into your app or business, now is the time. Here are five mobile services that have adopted conversational commerce and/or chatbots into their products:
When you walk into an Apple store, there’s always someone greeting you at the entrance and directing where to go. Steve Jobs was strategic when he ensured that his customers would feel welcome and comfortable with support from the “Apple geniuses.” Businesses that have carried this strategy into mobile commerce are increasing user satisfaction, engagement and sales. Could chatbots become the next virtual “Apple geniuses?”
Facebook Messenger recently released a new bot store and the mobile commerce startup Spring was one of Facebook’s launch partners. Spring is a “personal shopping assistant” and utilizes Facebook’s Messenger API to communicate with and help users shop. The bot creates a conversation with the users via a nice greeting and a series of multiple-choice questions.
The conversation goes through product categories, specific kinds of products and price range and smartly presents you with a few recommended items to purchase. After picking a product you’re taken to a checkout form and then back to the conversation for your receipt.
Messenger’s big hope and the future of these chatbots revolves around the idea that they can learn and improve their personalization over time by leveraging the power of artificial intelligence. Facebook’s David MArcus explained at F8 that;
“You feed the bot engine with sample conversations, then it can handle any variation of that conversation on its own, using artificial intelligence and machine learning. It gets better and better over time. You don’t need to do any coding. It will do the job for you.”
We’re still in the early stages of chatbots but you can see the future is bright for chatbots and businesses that learn to leverage them to their advantage are ahead of the curve.
Before you could book your entire vacation on the Internet, most people used travel agents to plan everything from flights and hotels, to restaurants and activities--all you had to do was tell an agent where and when you wanted to go. So it’s only natural that the travel industry would thrive with the use of chatbots and conversational commerce.
A few companies are ahead of the curve such as TaylorBot and Expedia.com, both of which have launched chatbots for their travel services. TaylorBot integrates with Telegram messenger and is a “Travel Assistant Powered by Artificial Intelligence.” You can ask Taylor anything from where in the world you should go on your next vacation to what good restaurants are nearby.
Once Taylor has helped you decide where to go, you can then tell her your dates, budget and other details, and Taylorbot will book your trip for you with the help of a human for as low as $25.
You can’t talk about chatbots without mentioning Slack. Slack is a real-time messaging service for teams that’s been on the forefront of chatbot innovation and utilization. They’ve grown to over 2 million daily active users, raised $340 million, and are even investing $80 million into companies that build chatbots on top of their Slack API that they distribute via their Slack app directory.
Slack has invested in the chatbot Howdy.ai, which integrates artificial intelligence on top of Slack’s API to create smart virtual assistants for teams. Howdy can be used to automate common tasks such as asynchronous communication, automated meetings, and collecting lunch orders. You can even train the bot to do any other custom tasks your team needs.
There are hundreds of other chatbot apps as well in the Slack app directory. Everything from developer tool bots to customer support bots to travel bots. The chatbot revolution has arrived.
One of AirBnb’s biggest drivers toward a completed booking and satisfied customer is their chat feature. Upon finding a home that you're interested in renting, you send the host a message to begin the dialogue. Asking about availability, amenities, etc., this conversation is how you build the trust and relationship between buyer and seller. Furthermore, a successful stay is how well the host communicates with their guest! No doubt that there will be questions, issues with wifi, suggestions for best places to eat, how to use the washer, etc. fast responses facilitate an amazing experience on both ends. The chat feature makes that happen and it's the natural conversational transaction between the host and guest that builds trust, increases engagement and creates a fulfilling experience for everyone - conversational commerce at its best.
Concierge services are one of the most obvious benefactors of the emergence and adoption of chatbots and conversational commerce. Concierge services are focused around the foundations of conversational commerce - getting something done for you by simply having a conversation about what you need. Many new concierge apps have flourished recently such as Operator (as we mentioned earlier), Magic + and Sensay.it.
Sensay has taken advantage of the growth of messaging apps by integrating with Slack, Kik, Facebook Messenger, Telegram, WeChat and has plans to integrate with Twitter, Line and WhatsApp soon. Their users and number of messages has been doubling each month since their beta launch:
Sensay integrates a chatbot to begin the conversation with their users to find out exactly what they need. The chatbot will then tap into Sensay’s database of real humans to find the perfect person to help you. They also encourage you to join the community and help others creating a conversational commerce loop. Truly conversational commerce at its best.
It is clear that the future of our mobile services is steering in the direction of conversational commerce and chatbots. If you aren’t thinking of ways to integrate conversational UI into your mobile services you will be behind. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel to integrate these conversational features either. Several services such as Smooch that helps you integrate chatbots and SendBird, that helps you integrate in-app messaging features quickly by using their plugins and SDKs. With these quick integrations you will be able to test these features and iterate quickly via the conversational data and feedback you receive from your users.
As our computers and software become smarter our interactions and relationships with them evolve to become more conversational. Conversation breeds trusts, understanding, engagement and retention. If you can learn to adopt and apply these psychological and behavioral principles between human and computer interaction - the future is yours.