If you want to reach a wider mobile audience, you have more options than just an app. Many companies are developing chat-bots to help their customers access their products and services from their mobile phones.

What is a chat-bot?

Let’s start with the opportunity to your business. Your customers are already using chat apps such as iMessage, Facebook messanger, WhatsApp and Slack. Each spends over 68 hours a month in chat apps – 91% of all time spent using their phones. And these chat apps have 100’s of millions of customers.

This presents a huge opportunity for businesses. Not only can people chat with friends and co-workers, they can also chat with brands. And, they don’t have to be chatting with real staff members; they chat with software bots that are smart enough to co-ordinate conversations that help customers complete sophisticated tasks; finding flights, browsing products and booking taxis. You name it.

Developing a Facebook Messanger Chatbot

For example, if you’re a flight aggregator such as SkyScanner, then you could develop a chat bot that lets people find and book a flight by simply typing Find flights to Amsterdam in January in Facebook messenger. The chat bot is smart enough to talk them through the booking, asking them for preferences such as time and seat type. It can also take payment and place the booking.

Why is a chat-bot better than app?

A bot is different to an app, not necessarily better. Each has their merits. However, many businesses are seeing the opportunity in bots – including Uber, SkyScanner and H&M. So what’s all the fuss about?

Firstly, your customers don’t have to find your app, download it, watch some onboarding screens, sign up, login and then figure out how to use it. This can take 2-10 minutes depending on how slick your app is. People are lazy and have better things to do than install apps, especially when on the move.

People are lazy and have better things to do than install apps, especially when on the move.

Instead, customers can benefit from your services using the chat apps they already use every day, such as Facebook Messenger or Skype. This gives a much lower barrier to entry. It’s practically zero-friction.

You might be thinking that an app is far richer experience than a chat conversation. In some ways this is true, but modern chat apps give a better experience than just plain text. During conversation, a bot can present a customer with buttons allowing them to select options or take actions. They can show images and maps to help customers understand more about your products or services.

What kind of bot could my business develop?

Here are some ideas to get you thinking.

Taxi company

Create a bot that allows customers to book a cab.

Customer: Book me a cab now from the train stationBot: Your cab is on it's way!

Airline

Customer: When is the next flight from Leeds Airpot to SwedenBot: There is one in leaving at 16:30, flight number LB34 112.Bot: There are seats available, do you want to book one?

Rewards Programme

Customer: Account summary pleaseBot: You are currently a VIP Three Star customer.

Bot: You have £1,200 worth of loyalty points.

Bot: Would you like to this week's offers?

IoT for Industry

Customer: Show the location of all drivers

Bot: Here is a map showing the location of all drivers.

Bot: Type the name of the driver to see recent history.

Want to develop a chat bot?

Pocketworks are chat-bot developers, and advise their clients in emerging technologies to help them get ahead. Feel free to meet with with us to find how this could help your business.