I like big bots and I cannot lie… 5 simple ways bots should be answering questions for your business

Bots used to be very expensive to build. Now with Microsoft and Google offering nice bot development platforms, businesses are building bots in days. At SSW we have built bots on both platforms and discovered their differences, worked out the pros and cons, and some best practices for developing on these platforms. Regardless of the differences, you can now build a bot quickly and cheaply. 

Figure: Both Microsoft and Google have a super friendly bot service, and over the last year on Google Trends you can see that the Microsoft bot is trending slightly higher

Businesses are discovering that bots are great at answering questions. The end user experience is friendly because: 

  • You can text/talk naturally, like you would to a friend.
    E.g. “Hi Sophie, where is Adam Cogan today?”, or you can converse using text, interactive cards etc 
  • You can get answers in real-time using your favourite chat app. 
    E.g. Skype, Teams, Slack, Facebook Messenger, Google Assistant and even WeChat (for the Chinese audience)
  • It can be a quick question and answer, or it can be a sophisticated conversation that intelligently provides access to services

Here are 5 simple questions that bots should be answering in your business  

#1 Where is a person? 

At SSW, we have a few offices (Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and China) and we know it was a common request to ping the General Manager of each office and ask: “which developers are in the office today?” 

This has wasted a lot of time over the years…. But not any longer. 

Figure: The SSW Sophie Bot in action – she can answer so many questions, accurately!  We can interact with Sophie using a natural voice service eg. Google Assistant

#2 Who has these skills? 

I am not always satisfied after asking “which developers are in the office today?” …because I often additionally want to know “who has a certain skill?”. So I ask Sophie “I have an Azure question, who can I talk to?” 

Figure: SSW Sophie Bot also knows who knows what. You can check out more functions at https://sswsophie.com/try

#3 Can I change my appointment? 

Sometimes one of your employees is sick and their client needs an appointment cancelled, sometimes a plane has a fault and the flight needs to be cancelled. These are just some of the examples of an appointment that a customer will need re-scheduled.  

A bot can keep your customers happy by always being available – even in your peak times. I’ve recently discovered that Qantas use a text bot to help serve its customers, and it’s brilliant!  

Penny was in Melbourne last week and received the dreaded SMS that said: “Your flight has been cancelled. Go to our Customer Service website, or contact your travel agent to check your flight options. We’re sorry that your flight has been cancelled.” 

I’m not sure if it was the fact that the SMS mentions that her flight was cancelled twice, or that the message once you call customer service was: “Sorry there is a 2-hour waiting time to talk to a person…”  

…but one of those messages made Penny’s blood pressure rise significantly! 

10 minutes later after a pleasant bot experience, her blood pressure was back to normal! Penny just used a bot to rebook her flight, and she’s been telling everyone about it non-stop! From the images below, it took 8 minutes from start to finish and she was on her way back to Sydney!  

Figure: Penny’s text chat with the Qantas SMS Bot that got her back on track for dragon boat training in Sydney

#4 Where can I buy something, and is it in stock? 

Putting an ad on social media is easy, but when it comes to managing purchases or social interactions, a bot can be really useful and reduce the need for staff to be on 24/7. 

Facebook Messenger Bots can help to manage a business’s social media interaction and even boost sales through automation. For example, the Facebook Messenger Bot helps users setup and send set responses to customers based upon using the key words in their enquiry. You can use this bot to increase your response time, increase your engagement and/or just to acknowledge that you’ve received their enquiry.  

Check out this cool example from Nike’s Jordan brand. It’s awesome! You can see from the first screen, that their response time is excellent, and they have some great suggestions for purchasing the latest merchandise without needing the customer to download an app or subscribe to an email service. 

Figure: Check out this cool conversation. It certainly is a nicer experience than “Subscribing” on conventional websites

#5 Special questions, did you know that bots can be humanitarian too?! 

Businesses can use bots to do intelligent surveys to help improve things like the welfare of your staff. For example, you could use your timesheet information to identify people who have done a lot of overtime recently, and the bot could ask employees questions like “You have done 10 hours of overtime this week. How are you feeling?”  

You could even ask anonymously things like, if they have had an incidence of mean comments, or noticed people being slack with safety or maybe if they have noticed any sexist jokes in your workplace to identify areas that you might need some re-training on. 

A great example of this in action is the UNICEF SMS-based bot called U-Report that allows people in developing countries to report key issues in their community. It has already helped bring about the discovery of the “Sex 4 grades” epidemic in Liberia, after 13,000 users were asked if teachers at their schools were exchanging grades for sex. An astonishing 86% of those polled said yes, so a program has been developed to try to tackle this problem. Without the SMS bot, it might not have even been discovered.  

Summary 

Bots are programmed to understand questions, provide answers, and execute tasks. They’re a friendly and accessible time-saver that is saving customers from opening browsers and searching for answers…  and more importantly is saving Millennials from making phone calls – which we know they hate! 

Help your customer help themselves by just typing a message, like they would to a friend. I love big bots and I cannot lie.