What is a chatbot?

The term chatbots refers to text-based dialogue systems that enter into dialogue with consumers as part of human-machine communication. The possible uses of chatbots are manifold. In digital B2C communication in particular, automated dialogue systems are increasingly being found.

The term chatbot generally hides a software system that responds to human text requests based on algorithms. For this purpose, the system uses a stored database and matches the content entered via the text field with those of the database. If the chatbot recognizes keywords in text input, it reacts with a predefined response via text output.

With the opening of the Facebook messenger for commercial business in April 2016, the topic also became increasingly relevant for German companies. Many have already recognized the opportunities and integrate chatbots into customer communication — customer support, for example. The advantage of automated messaging is primarily the cost efficiency compared to traditional solutions, fast response time and low usage barrier of messenger services among consumers. The dialogue with consumers should therefore be faster, cheaper and more intensive in the future. Many are seeing the end of the apps in view of this development.

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The story of bots began back in 1966 when German-American computer scientist Joseph Weizenbaum invented the mother of all chatbots: Eliza. She was a first computer program that was supposed to communicate with patients as humanly as possible as part of psychotherapy. Since then, the Löbner Prize has been presented annually, where computer scientists and artificial intelligence researchers compete against each other with their chatbots.

The importance of chatbots for digital marketing

Though Many chatbots are still in the pilot phase in this country, but they already have the potential to replace apps as a preferred channel for customer loyalty. Many companies, including the online travel portal KAYAK, use chatbots to respond to user requests via Facebook messenger. The chatbot acts as a virtual assistant who responds to user searches with flight connections, prices, hotels and car rental. Similar to airline KLM. It provides customers with information on booked flights and delays — including boarding pass.

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source: Kayak

Outlook: What’s next?

With all progress, chatbots are still at the very beginning of their development in Germany. With their predefined commands and corresponding answers, their areas of application are currently still limited to simple user requests as part of customer support. Is it possible to find detailed The bot still forwards requests for help from customers to trained personnel. The next step is machine learning. In other words, learning from conversations with consumers and developing an independent language system. There is also a strong need to catch up with regard to the sales aspect of chatbots in Germany. The Chinese are already demonstrating the immense potential of chatbots here: via WeChat, the most popular messenger in Asia, the Chinese are already ordering from several million companies today, generating sales of $3.8 billion in 2015.

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