5 Reasons To Love Chatbots

About a week ago I went to Chatbot Summit – the first international chatbot summit in Israel. The event was really cool and some really interesting speakers came to share their knowledge and experience.

The summit had 3 stages: The central stage, the conversational stage and the cognitive stage. Every stage was focused on a certain subject. I chose the conversational stage, that focused on creating the right conversation with the user. I found this to be the best fit for UX.

As you may have read before, in my previous post about chatbots, you know I’m a bit skeptical, but I must say, this summit got me exposed to the really fun and amazing part of the whole chatbot phenomena.

Chatbots are fun, easy and really engaging, and I think they’re here to stay. I’ve listed some reasons why chatbots are awesome:

Chatbots are sexy

People love buzzwords, and ‘chatbot’ is one of them. A lot of organizations are trying to use chatbots for their businesses, and investing a lot of time and money it. People see them as the future of apps and that makes chatbots super-sexy right now.

The interest of the search term 'Chatbots' in Google
The interest of the search term ‘Chatbots’ in Google

They’re fun

Interacting through a menu and some buttons can be pretty boring and very task-oriented. Chatbots can ask you how are you, they can tell you jokes and send you animated GIFs. Take Poncho, for example. Poncho is a chatbot that tells you what’s the weather in your location. It’s not advanced and not better than any other weather app, Poncho just tells the story better and makes fun out of it. For instance, instead of telling you today’s gonna be dry, Poncho will tell you you’re going to have a great hair day. Poncho is my new friend!

Poncho in Slack
Poncho in Slack

No context switching

Chatbots are not apps. They often live on other services that we already use – Slack, Telegram, Messenger, etc. Sure, I could talk with my friend on Slack, schedule a lunch meeting, close slack, open Google Calendar, create a new meeting and get back to Slack. BUT, using Meekan bot, for instance, I could just schedule the meeting while talking with my friend. No context switching. That’s awesome!

They’re so simple

A phrase that I’ve heard a lot during the summit about chatbots was “My mother can use it”. In a UX point of view, that is one of the best things you can say about a product. And why can my mother use a chatbots? because it’s natural. No complex menus or tough settings, just a simple chat with a bot. Most of the chatbots are even capable of helping you using them. Chip is an example of a chatbot that manages your savings, a tough and complex task. Chip uses humor and easy language to make the whole experience easier and way more relaxed.

Exploring Is So Satisfying

Working with chatbots turns my curiousity mode on. I’m always curious about which phrases does the bot understand, and what would it say if I wrote down a weird sentence or use fowl language. That curiousity makes me (the user) want to use the bot as much as I can. Having said that, I have to add, this curiousity thing might turn out to be an obstacle if the chatbot is trying to get the user to do something while the user’s typing curses and stupid sentences. But let’s not look at it as an obstacle, but as a challenge.

That’s it for now

This summit got me hooked on chatbots. I really want to study more about them and understand how they work and what are the ways to make the perfect bots. I’ve listed some of the reasons you should be interested in chatbots and I hope it made you curious too. If you think I missed something – please let me know in the comments.

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3 thoughts on “5 Reasons To Love Chatbots

  1. Most of the advantages you stated are also the advantages of command line interfaces. However, command line interfaces were BEFORE the graphical interfaces and was made for “the common user” – CLI was less inviting.

    What’s changed? Why do people love textual applications again? It’s it because using computers, and mainly typing on keyboard became such a basic task?

    Do you think that chat bots will make CLI more common? Should I target my future apps to provide an interface using “CMD” and “Terminal.app”? After all, if you take out the “chats” with real people, the “bots” are nothing more than a textual utility.

    1. I think CLI’s and chatbots are different in their essence.
      CLI’s have a “Power User” vibe. The common user will find a CLI interface kind of intimidating.
      A chatbot tries to copy a human tone, while CLI is pretty mechanic.
      I think the decision (like all UX decision) should be based on who are your users. For common and un-technical users (let’s say, my mom), I’d go for a chatbot, but for “Power Users”, who get excited from keyboard shortcuts and optimization (of power, finger movements, etc.) CLI’s are awesome and truly fulfilling.

      1. Then maybe our interfaces could be better. There are indeed applications that should keep the super user vibe, but we CAN think of a way to build other application levels. Therefore, with the right ux design, command line applications can help us make normal users to super users, over time.

        An example could be the simple gif not. “gif me” can, and should be, a command on Apple’s spotlight search. Just trigger CLI apps, and make better experience for inexperienced users to make them comfortable with the environment.

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