A chatbot is a service powered by algorithms and artificial intelligence interacting with users via a chat interface. As reported by Oracle research published in ECM-Journal, 80% of companies intend to introduce virtual assistants by 2020.

Apparently, chatbots will become smarter and multi-functional in two years. Currently, they can perform a lot of actions and are good assistants for both individuals and businesses. So, what types of chatbots are there and what is the most profitable way of their application?

As classified by Chatbots Magazine, virtual assistants can be divided into two large groups: simple that follow an algorithm and self-learning with elements of artificial intelligence. ConfBot Founder Alexey Mogilnikov put forward another classification: interface and text bots. To interact with the former, a user clicks on an action (for instance, Telegram bots) while the latter are enabled by text commands (Skype).

Where are chatbots represented?

Messengers are a widespread space for chatbots. Their users won’t have to meddle with an interface, which makes the working experience with a virtual assistant easier. Top 4 popular services include Facebook Messenger, Telegram, VKontakte, and Viber.

Facebook Messenger. Embracing 1.3 bn users across the globe, it has user-friendly tools helping create and adjust a bot: a template of a list of goods, seat booking as well as Call button. Russia has only a small part of Facebook Messenger audience – about 188 000 users, which is not profitable to local companies.

Telegram. This messenger is more popular in Russia with bots adjusted via an open API. Here, you can set a list of commands, adjust buttons, and link a bot to external websites. Such services as Manybot or Paquebot.io help create a virtual assistant and integrate it into a chat. Users can interact with Telegram bots by buttons and text commands (for instance, /help or /menu). This bot will provide weather forecast, news, prices, menu, or receive payments.

VKontakte. Here, bots interact with users in private messengers. They help send newsletters and answer questions. There are no buttons and commands in VK, bots give instructions on how to file a request.

Viber. In this messenger, bots accompany public accounts. They can find information, exchange currency, and subscribe to interesting channels.

Chatbots are also available on other platforms: Skype, Slack (a popular business messenger), and WhatsApp. Skype team has recently announced the development of voice assistants that would understand human language.

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Who and why uses chatbots?

In Russia, banks are the most frequent users of this tool: 18% of them have already introduced chatbots while 93% consider the technology prospects. Bots are used to solve plenty of tasks from newsletters to service advice. For instance, VTB has recently launched a chatbot answering questions related to credit refund for citizens: it works on Telegram, Facebook Messenger, and Viber. Media representatives, retail networks, and carsharing services also use bots.

Typical tasks chatbots of large companies perform

  1. Customer support. Bots answer typical questions helping human employees.
  2. Content. Chatbots send newsletters in social networks. In Russia, such publishers as Meduza, Kommersant, and Glamour use chatbots.
  3. Order receipt. Bots can order a pizza, a taxi as well as buy flight tickets.
  4. Sales. This practice is widespread on the West: using a chatbot, you can choose products, pay for goods, and order delivery.
  5. Advertising. Sometimes companies delegate promotions to chatbots. For instance, Burger King encourages to take part in a contest and win stickers via a VKontakte chatbot. Meanwhile, Tuborg Russia advertises Green Jam fest using a virtual assistant.
  6. Routine tasks. Simple business procedures including candidates’ CV receipt, employee survey or document accuracy.
  7. Social networks management. Some services provide special remote chatbots.


How chatbots help in business

According to the marketing company Drift, 55% of companies answer user requests for more than five days. In Russia, the statistics appear to be even worse: 70% of companies do not answer at all; average answer time – 10 hours.

Chatbots are a way-out and can reduce the answer time. They allow to get an immediate reaction that on average is 4 minutes faster compared to call center workers. Besides, virtual assistants undertake routine tasks giving people more time to solve more complicated problems. Bots can also perform some complex tasks: for instance, collect client data.

Used as an additional channel, bots boost sales. Messenger is simpler and quicker at delivering information compared to e-catalogs.

Text assistants also collect such consumer data as age, sex, and previous purchases to get ready with personal offers.

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