Hailing a ride. Booking a dinner reservation. Checking your bank balance.
You can perform any of these common tasks on the go using dedicated apps on your smartphone. But with so many apps, will you end up using them all?
Today, 80% of our time on smartphones is spent on just three apps, says the 2016 Mary Meeker Internet Trends Report. But the near future may reduce that even more, as chatbots give messenger-based apps the range and versatility of hundreds of applications.
Imagine your one app future—off to meet a friend for drinks, you chat request a ride. In the car, you drop a line to request restaurant recommendations, then confirm a reservation around where you’re meeting. Later, you chat your bank to check your balance, transfer money to checking, and quickly command via chat to transfer money to pay back your friend, all without leaving the one app.
In China, this is already possible. Each month, 600 million people use the Chinese version of WeChat to hail rides, buy movie tickets, make doctors’ appointments, enjoy games, manage flight tickets, video-chat, give to charity, bank online and more, all without leaving the app, reported Wired in October 2015.
Chatbots or intelligence assistants like Siri aren't new. Some of the first computer programs, like the simulated therapist Eliza, were designed to engage with users and mimic real speech. But companies are increasingly now using those bots to connect their customers to services without needing to setup a dedicated mobile app.
Facebook, Amazon, Google & Apple invest in AI
Facebook is aggressively leading the charge in this field, and hopes to make their stand-alone Messenger app a one-stop concierge with a virtual assistant called M, creating a world where you seamlessly chat with businesses with the ease and familiarity you currently chat with your friends.
Facebook Messenger’s head of product Stan Chudnovsky says there's tens of thousands of chatbots currently in development, and chatbot powered services are already live. You can find a job by messaging Job Pal and answering a series of questions. Order Bot lets any Facebook user order food directly through Messenger. And many more are on the way.
And it’s not just Facebook—Amazon is working on an extensive range of services and skills for Alexa including recognizing your emotions, and in May Google debuted an Alexa and Echo competitor called Home. “Apple is also reportedly working on a similar technology that will work within its streaming device, Apple TV,” shared Fortune Magazine in June, 2016.
Chatbots and virtual assistants offer a huge opportunity for both customers and businesses. For companies trying to handle customer service over multiple platforms, a chatbot can automate common queries. Unlike an app, you don't have to get users to install anything; they work across all platforms that support chatbots. They're scalable, personalized, and efficient.
They’re also undeniably the future as consumer attention shifts to messaging apps—In 2015, monthly usage on messaging apps surpassed social network usage.
social Trust drives revenue growth
However, to be successful, chatbots have to approximate the feeling of a personal connection expressed on social media—whether through precise word choice, content personalization, or humanizing elements like slang and emojis. Brands that master this mode of interaction are poised for profit. A thriving social media presence will be the top predictor of success in this arena—an engaged social community is a testimony to your brand’s skill at connecting with people on a personal level.
If your business does not know how to interact on social media, you are sure to fall behind as this revolution changes the way customer service is conducted. Until now, the main objective of social media marketing has been to build brand trust and create a relationship. But artificial intelligence will leverage that personal relationship to drive sales through one-on-one consumer brand interaction, increasing revenue and creating new business possibilities—if companies know how to take advantage.
Businesses primed for success have already built brand trust across social media platforms—consumers are ready to reach out digitally with any questions, as they already have an engaged digital relationship with the brand. With a strong social media strategy in place, your business will be able to leverage artificial intelligence and social media brand trust to drive increased sales.