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Chatbots captured my interest in 2016 and that’s when I started researching in-depth about chat bots and how they are affecting the business landscape across the world. My findings and insights gained showed that there was a huge potential in Chatbots to become a new age medium of communication for businesses with their customers and prospects and also that Chatbots will change the face of customer support landscape. No doubt adoption of Chatbots by businesses is happening across the world and it’s also gaining momentum. My research also led me to write three successive articles on the topic titled ‘A Comprehensive Guide to Conversational Interface.’, ‘Will Conversational Interfaces Change the Face of Customer Support and Engagement’ and ‘A Beginner’s Guide to Designing Conversational Interfaces’
Despite of what the critics and people who are pessimistic about it say, Chatbots are here to stay and will become one of the major driving forces of b2b and b2c communication and engagement in a few years down the line. Here is a glimpse of the positive developments happening around that validate the above discussed points.
There is no denying the fact that Chatbots are making a significant impact on the digital world and thereby on the business world. But, does that mean that bots will completely kill websites and mobile apps as CEO of Octane AI, Matt Schlicht claims? – That’s the question that this article attempts to answer with logically. The simple answer is NO! Bots will not kill websites and apps. Let me take Matt’s arguments one by one and present my counter views and reasons behind them.
The first argument that Matt makes to justify his claim is that ‘every business is going to have a bot’ in the future and gives an example of how bot makes it easier for businesses to run their customer service with less human resource and thus helps reduce cost. True! No doubt, Chatbots will take customer support and engagement landscape by storm in the near future as mentioned before but, do websites and apps only exist for customer support? Hell, no! While it can be agreed that, in the future, the number of people turning to website or app to get in touch with customer support of businesses may go down because talking to a bot is a quick and convenient way for sure. But websites/apps cater to other needs of the customers which bots cannot fulfill. Let me explain it a bit later. Read on.
The second point that Matt makes is that bots are faster than websites and mobile apps. With advancement in technology and high speed internet, most of the modern day websites/apps open within a few seconds. Bots take that much time too. It may be true in some instances where you may need quick information, say; you want to know the temperature of the day. You find it easier to ask it to Siri rather than opening a website or app but again considering the fact that websites/apps are used for other needs apart from quick information, this is not a sound argument.
The third and final argument that Matt makes is that bots are more user-friendly compared to websites/apps as you don’t have to understand the visual interface or user interface before communicating with a bot compared to websites/apps.
Matt’s point that “Not every website and mobile app is designed the same. This means that you constantly have to learn new visual interfaces in order to use your favorite products.” might be true in the early days. These days the internet users understand UI elements and communicate with websites/apps seamlessly and no website or app uses a completely different, never seen of ‘visual interface’ that a user has to learn it before using it. You often find similar UI across websites/apps and when the trends change, the change is implemented across board.
These are just counter points, now let me explain in detail about the major flaws in Matt’s arguments. Let’s discuss.
Trust me, I’m a Chatbot enthusiast and I believe bots are truly going to transform the customer support and engagement landscape and help businesses save resources. These bots (both message app-based Chatbots and virtual assistants) do have a clear advantage over websites/apps on one aspect which is what Matt emphasizes – bot de-clutters things and gives you clear, contextually relevant and quick information about anything including details of any business and its products/services but he ignores the other needs that websites/apps cater to, which the bots can’t.
• Detailed information – when you need detailed information on something or when you are reading articles, you would prefer to browse through a website and read things in detail. In such scenario bots can’t be used where you’ll have to type or speak for a long duration and the information provided by bots in bits and pieces won’t serve your purpose. So, you need website/app to present detailed information.
• Shopping Experience – shoppers prefer to browse through all the options available before they make a purchase decision. They enjoy the ‘shopping experience’ that only a website/online store or app can provide and bots can’t. Bots can only cater to a segment of audience that prefers to shop quickly or the product is such that you don’t have to browse through. For example – ordering a pizza.
Yes, bots too facilitate ecommerce experience which is of a different kind – it presents products based on your requirement or input – one or a couple of products at a time wherein you don’t get to ‘explore’ the range which many regular shoppers love to do.
• Visuals experience – websites/apps give you a visual experience that bots in the current form can’t provide. Even if it provides visual experience, its limited compared to what websites/apps are capable of.
• Public space restrictions – while it will be difficult for you to type and get information from Chatbots when you need a lot of information, it would also be difficult for you to speak to a bot continuously when you are in public places at the same time you can browse through a website or app.
Websites/apps won’t be killed, instead I predict that they will evolve, and future websites/apps may come with integrated bot with which you can chat or talk while it will provide you quick answers and detailed information too. They may also be capable of auto-browsing as per your instructions. For example – instead of clicking, you may ask a website to go to the ‘about us’ page or you may ask it to find the page where content on a particular topic is present or instruct it to show you multiple products of a category based on a spelt out criteria. Future websites/apps will give you both the advantage of using a bot and website/app.
Another bold prediction that makes sense – as the world advances towards virtual reality and augmented reality, there is a possibility that future websites/apps may appear on virtual screens which will be powered by bots.
Bots without a screen or with a screen on which they can’t present detailed information or provide ‘exploring’ or ‘browsing’ experience can’t replace websites/apps. Period.
Now, why would an intelligent person like Matt Schlicht choose to ignore these facts conveniently? Matt is one of the pioneers who are taking the Chatbots industry forward and he runs his own Chatbot development platform Octane AI. So, probably he went overboard and wrote this piece to make people take his industry more seriously and also to grab the business world’s attention toward his platform Octane AI 😉