Chatbots Deep Dive: Part 1
A summary of the most engaging chatbots is best broken down on an industry-by-industry basis. Some of the most engaging and innovative chatbots include those used by the financial, human services, and fashion and style industries. We will outline three case studies of chatbots in each industry, with examples of what makes them so engaging and further detail.
There are approximately 10-20 non-coded chatbot platforms on the market; although no definitive figure is available, we are able to confidently surmise this ballpark figure.
There are implications for chatbots as a result of the Facebook privacy scandal, with major chatbot platform Chatfuel announcing their apps will not reconnect to Facebook pages, and Facebook announcing they will not allow new chatbots on their platform.
EXAMPLES OF ENGAGING CHATBOTS
This chatbot was developed by Capital One Financial and currently used by the company is called Eno. This chatbot is leveraged by artificial intelligence, and communicates with Capital One Financial customers via text messages. Although it is currently only available for a small pilot of customers, it is one of the most engaging chatbots on the market. Eno provides its users with updates, allows them access to information immediately, and can even pay their bills upon request.
Eno has access to customers' account information, to give them information on their balances, update them on their recent transactions, allow them to see their credit card due dates, and credit card limit. Unlike other many other chatbots on the market, Eno only uses text messages, and does not require the user to install another application. This makes it particularly useful for older customers, who may not use a smartphone, and other non-smartphone users.
Woebot is a chatbot aimed at recognizing the signs of depression and offering a bespoke therapy service to its users. Woebot is used primarily through Facebook Messenger, and is an artificially intelligent chatbot. It is trained in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), which is one of the most widely known methods of treating depression.
Woebot tracks a user's mood through the use of keywords, and is able to show users how their moods change. The chatbot can do this whilst maintaining privacy and finding patterns that might be more difficult for an average user of the chatbot to analyze.
Woebot is then able to talk about the user's mental health and wellness from brief daily conversations. It asks questions such as what’s going on in the user’s life, and how they are feeling that day. Depending on the results of these questions, the chatbot is then able to send useful videos and other therapy tools depending on the user's mood and needs at the moment. It is aimed at promoting better mental health in users who may be uncomfortable in discussing these issues with another person.
FASHION AND STYLE SERVICES
The Dutch-based fashion retailer H&M currently use a chatbot that is able to market clothing styles directly to its users. The chatbot used by H&M can be linked to a user's instant messaging account on apps such as Kik. It then analyzes the potential customer's photos currently stored on their device or in cloud storage, and can pick an outfit for a user based upon these photos.
Users are able to update the chatbot with styles and preferences for the chatbot to more closely pick out appropriate outfit for the user based on their tastes.
This is an innovative method of using a chatbot to directly market multiple products to a customer and potentially generate sales.
CHATBOT PLATFORMS AND THEIR CHARACTERISTICS
There are chatbot platforms available for clients who have the capacity to develop and write code, and those who do not. We will make the distinction between non-coding and coding chatbot platforms.
The most widely used non-coding chatbot platforms include Chatfuel, Botsify, Flow Xo, and KITT.AI.
Non-coding chatbots allow a user or company to easily build a chatbot without necessarily being an advanced computer user, or have any experience of using code.
Chatfuel is an extremely popular chatbot platform used across instant messaging applications such as Telegram and Facebook Messenger. It is estimated that over 46,000 chatbots have been created using the platform, with clients including Adidas, MTV, British Airways and Volkswagen. Chatfuel is free with basic features, or Chatfuel Pro can be purchased for $30 USD per month. Chatfuel is simple enough for beginners or small businesses to construct a chatbot of their own.
Botsify is another widely used chatbot platform, used across instant messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. It is estimated that over 40,000 chatbots have been created chatbots using the platform, with clients including Apple, Shazam, Grin, and Travelex. Botsify is free, or price plans start at $10 USD per month for a basic package, up to $50 USD per month for a business package. Botsify uses templates that the client can customize, with 20 templates in the free version, and more available with each price plan.
The most widely used coding chatbot platforms are IBM Watson, Microsoft Bot Framework, Wit.ai, Semantic Machines, Reply.ai and ManyChat.
These chatbots tend to be more complex, using artificial intelligence in order to handle more complex conversations with users.
IBM Watson is a popular coded chatbot platform, used across instant messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram. The estimated number of created chatbots using the platform is not available, but clients include Staples, H&R Block, and Autodesk. A chatbot coded on the IBM Watson platform "can serve different verticals including customer engagement, education, financial services" and more.
Microsoft Bot Framework is another popular coded chatbot platform, used across a wide variety of applications such as Microsoft's website and apps, and Skype, Slack and Facebook Messenger. The estimated number of created chatbots using the platform is not available, but clients include UPS. A chatbot coded on with Microsoft Bot Framework "is globally accessible" through a cloud-based service "across 141 countries, and bots can communicate in multiple languages".
APPROXIMATE NUMBER OF NON-CODING CHATBOT PLATFORMS
As a ballpark figure, there are between 10 and 20 non-coding chatbot platforms currently available. Although we were unable to find an exact figure, across numerous sources we were able to total the amount of non-coding chatbot platforms mentioned to arrive at this ballpark figure.
IMPLICATIONS OF THE RECENT FACEBOOK SCANDAL
We can conclude that the recent Facebook scandal will have ongoing implications for chatbots, as the scandal has already affected app developers.
Chatbot developers such as the bot-building service Chatfuel have already announced their intention to change their policies and working practices in the wake of Facebook's privacy scandal. Chatfuel announced in a private email that it will not reconnect chatbots to Facebook pages while Facebook pauses for an app review.
As mentioned above, Chatfuel-based chatbots number some 46,000 apps, so this announcement already has wide-reaching implications across the industry.
Facebook has also announced that it is currently not allowing new chatbots to be added to their platform, so the implications are wide-ranging.
The most engaging and successful chatbots on the market are available across many industries, with the examples cited here financial, human services and fashion. These specific examples include Capital One Financial's Eno, Woebot, and the chatbot used by H&M.
We can conclude that there are approximately 10-20 non-coded chatbot platforms on the market, and chatbot platforms are either coded or non-coded versions, depending on a client's wishes, budget and usage.
As a result of the Facebook scandal, the chatbot platform Chatfuel announced that it will not reconnect chatbots to Facebook pages while Facebook reviews their apps. Facebook also announced it will not allow new chatbots to connect to their platform.