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Rise of the Chatbot

Chatbots are on the collective brains of so many brands at the moment, and it’s easy to see why. We’ve been working with a fintech company for the past few weeks (which is all we can say for now… more to announce in the coming months), and as such, we’ve gotten a peek behind the chatbot curtain – enough to make us decide to implement one of our own.

Reading through myclever’s white paper on chatbots, a few interesting findings caught our eye. They wrote that in this day and age “a level of online service that was once a luxury now feels an inalienable right”. Chatbots notwithstanding, the best possible evidence for this is in the world of e-commerce delivery. We don’t want to wait for things to arrive anymore, and with the continued rise of Amazon Prime and next day delivery, we don’t have to. Hell, with Amazon Prime Now and Argos’ same day delivery, we barely have to wait an hour for delivery. It’s undoubtedly an age of instant gratification, and chatbots are a natural manifestation of this. Instant gratification is only half of the equation though, with Netflix, iPlayer, Spotify and all of the rest, instant access is an expectation too. We need our online services to be, again in the words of myclever, “swifter”, “smarter” and “ever-ready”.

With chatbots, brands can solve a number of different headaches that customers face – the perceived (or real) lack of responsiveness on a traditional contact form, questions being ignored outside of office hours, limited mobile access and the inability to get instant responses. This all makes logical sense. You would expect an unresponsive contact form to be off-putting at the very least, enough to give up and approach a different brand entirely for less charitable users. Lack of responsiveness is just as frustrating, inexcusable given the online format of proceedings.

The most surprising of myclever’s findings was the suggestion that customers find online services impersonal and characterless. In some ways, we understand this – chatbots are still very much in their infancy, so it only makes sense that brands are so focussed on making the technology work for their business that ensuring that the chatbot has a brand appropriate tone of voice might fall by the wayside. It’s no simple task, make no mistake. We will soon be A/B testing a number of different messages and voices for the fintech brand mentioned earlier – because although we have written and advised on brand messaging in the past, this is (at the time of writing) our first chatbot. Writing for a chatbot presents a whole new set of challenges – balancing personality with readability throughout the script of one half of a conversation. Writing multiple responses to single enquiries, covering every eventuality – it’s challenging, but exciting. It’s no wonder we were so eager to implement similar technology on our own site.

Have a play with our chatbot-alike, and we’ll have a lot more to say about the fintech chatbot we’re working with in the months to come…