To simplify it, a chatbot is software that can have a conversation with a human.

A chatbot is a service, powered by rules and sometimes artificial intelligence, that you interact with via a chat interface. These could include Facebook Messenger, Slack, Telegram, Text Messages, etc.

Need an example? Okay, visualize this….

You want to buy shoes from Nordstrom online. Normally you would go to their website, look around until you find the shoes you wanted, and then purchase them. 

If Nordstrom had a chatbot, you would simply message Nordstrom on Facebook. It would ask you what you’re looking for and you would tell it. Instead of browsing a website, you will have a conversation with the Nordstrom bot, mirroring the type of experience you would get when you go into the retail store.

Cool, huh?!? 

Chat bots can exist in many types. Check out these interesting examples of ways you can use chatbots right now.

Order Pizza – You can order by texting, tweeting, voice, or even from your car. 

Product Suggestions – Many consumers know they want to buy some shoes, but might not have a particular item in mind. You can use chatbots to offer product suggestions based on what they want (color, style, brand, etc.) 

Customer Support – Last year, brands including AirBnB, Evernote, and Spotify started using chatbots on Twitter to provide 24/7 customer service. The goal of these customer support chatbots is to quickly provide answers and address customer complaints, or simply track the status of an order.

Weather – You can use these to ask about current conditions in your area and whether or not you will need an umbrella. Some bots allow you to set reminders for a certain time of day.

 

 

Personal Finance Assistance – Banks have created chatbots to let you check in on your account, such as your current balance and most recent transactions. You can also make trades, get notifications about stock market trends, track your personal finances, or even get help finding a mortgage.

Schedule a Meeting – When trying to plan around multiple schedules, setting up meetings can be a pain. Meekan is a chatbot that can analyze multiple calendars to find times when everyone is available. 

Search for & Track Flights – Not only can you search for and compare flights based on price and location, Kayak’s chatbot even lets you book your flights and hotels entirely from inside Facebook Messenger. You can also use chatbots to get some vacation inspiration.

News – Chatbots help you stay up to date on the news or topics that matters to you. You can get the latest headlines from mainstream media sources like CNN, Fox News, or the Guardian.

Find Love – A match made in cyberspace? It could happen! Foxsy is a messenger bot that promises to help you find a “beautiful and meaningful connection with the right person.”

Send Money – You can easily send payments to your family or friends with chatbots. All you have to do on the Slack PayPal account is type /paypal send $X to @username.

Find a Restaurant – Can’t decide where to eat? Ask a chatbot! Restaurant chatbots can provide recommendations based on cuisine, location, and price range. Some chatbots will even make reservations for you or take your order online.


Why Chatbots Are Such a Big Opportunity

So what’s the big deal about chatbots? It’s because for the first time ever people are using messenger apps more than they are using social networks.

“Messaging apps are the platforms of the future and bots will be how their users access all sorts of services”, says P eter Rojas, Entrepreneur in Residence at Betaworks. Josh Elman, Partner at Greylock, commented, “Messaging is where we spend a ton of our time and expect to communicate. It is ridiculous we still have to call most businesses.” 

So, logically, if you want to build a business online, you want to build where the people are. That place is now inside messenger apps. This is why chatbots are such a big deal. It’s potentially a huge business opportunity for anyone willing to jump headfirst and build something people want.

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