Three reasons why chatbots are the new apps, and two why they are not, at least not yet.
Although chatbots are not the new technology they are used since the 1960s ELIZA right now, they are having a comeback mainly because the NLP understanding is far better and the consumer’s habits changed.
Currently, 7.3 billion use a mobile phone. According to Robert Dale, the author of The return of the chatbots:
messaging apps are used by more than 2.1 billion people: forty-nine per cent of 18–29 year-olds, thirty-seven per cent of 30–49-year-old and twenty-four per cent of those over 50
But why using chatbots when mobile apps are good enough? Here are three reasons why:
Over the past ten years, users have adopted mobile apps in their daily routine, but they demand beautiful UX and the tangible value they are getting from the app. If the app is not engaging enough or people have problems using it, users become bored and move quickly to another, a similar app that offers a better experience.
The mobile apps market is filled with many different solutions, and users are not interested in downloading new ones as they used to. They rely on just a few well-tried solutions.
The majority of time online is spent interacting with other people over platforms such as WhatsApp or Messenger. This mode of communication’s uniqueness means that people are more likely to respond to you via such a platform rather than other indirect methods of communication.
The user’s habit is already formed, so, naturally, brands think that the best way to grab their attention is through the communication channel they are already using.
We have already established why chatbots are new apps. Here are some reasons why they are not yet.
This is the sad truth. It is the repetitiveness and lack of understanding of the user. In one of my previous articles, I have described the underlying elements of human communication. Chatbots focus on the intents and entities, which are very surface layers of conversation but overlook the conversation’s emotion, sentiment, and social context. They do not master how to build rapport with the user. Therefore they do not know how to engage them in the conversation.
The user needs to understand the purpose of the bot. A chatbot is often designed to do one specific thing like helping booking tickets, and if it fails to allow the user, he or she will find the mobile app or human to get that one specific thing done. That’s why onboarding message is crucial. We explain to the people that here is the app and it does such and such and you can ask it such and such questions.
Moreover, the users want to remember the past conversations they had with the bot and see the information it collects. This is hard because it is just the conversation and no buttons like in the traditional mobile apps.
- The mobile market has become saturated. It is tough to impress and get new users.
- The most popular type of apps is messaging apps. Brands figured out that if they slide into DMs, they will make their brands more noticeable and approachable.
- Chatbots are boring.
- The conversation interface is messy. The user is confronted with the sea of previous messages and no buttons or slick UI, making the app history clear.