Interface designers have come to appreciate that humans' readiness to interpret computer output as genuinely conversational—even when it is actually based on rather simple pattern-matching—can be exploited for useful purposes. Most people prefer to engage with programs that are human-like, and this gives chatbot-style techniques a potentially useful role in interactive systems that need to elicit information from users, as long as that information is relatively straightforward and falls into predictable categories. Thus, for example, online help systems can usefully employ chatbot techniques to identify the area of help that users require, potentially providing a "friendlier" interface than a more formal search or menu system. This sort of usage holds the prospect of moving chatbot technology from Weizenbaum's "shelf ... reserved for curios" to that marked "genuinely useful computational methods".
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Despite the fact that ALICE relies on such an old codebase, the bot offers users a remarkably accurate conversational experience. Of course, no bot is perfect, especially one that’s old enough to legally drink in the U.S. if only it had a physical form. ALICE, like many contemporary bots, struggles with the nuances of some questions and returns a mixture of inadvertently postmodern answers and statements that suggest ALICE has greater self-awareness for which we might give the agent credit.
The most widely used anti-bot technique is the use of CAPTCHA, which is a form of Turing test used to distinguish between a human user and a less-sophisticated AI-powered bot, by the use of graphically-encoded human-readable text. Examples of providers include Recaptcha, and commercial companies such as Minteye, Solve Media, and NuCaptcha. Captchas, however, are not foolproof in preventing bots as they can often be circumvented by computer character recognition, security holes, and even by outsourcing captcha solving to cheap laborers.
“Beware though, bots have the illusion of simplicity on the front end but there are many hurdles to overcome to create a great experience. So much work to be done. Analytics, flow optimization, keeping up with ever changing platforms that have no standard. For deeper integrations and real commerce like Assist powers, you have error checking, integrations to APIs, routing and escalation to live human support, understanding NLP, no back buttons, no home button, etc etc. We have to unlearn everything we learned the past 20 years to create an amazing experience in this new browser.” — Shane Mac, CEO of Assist
Marketer’s Take: While I didn’t like being directed to a website to finalize my purchase, I understand why Spring decided on this approach given how the Messenger platform was just released. Yet, this may be a sound strategy if you’re looking to augment upselling and cross-selling opportunities or looking for deeper analytics than what Facebook Messenger is providing.
“We believe that you don’t need to know how to program to build a bot, that’s what inspired us at Chatfuel a year ago when we started bot builder. We noticed bots becoming hyper-local, i.e. a bot for a soccer team to keep in touch with fans or a small art community bot. Bots are efficient and when you let anyone create them easily magic happens.” — Dmitrii Dumik, Founder of Chatfuel
Marketer’s Take: This is a good demonstration of how you can add a gaming dimension to your bots. If you’re a marketer that likes to tell stories, then you can design a choose-your-own adventure bot that educates and sells prospective customers that are following along. There are many twists and turns that can be built into a bot like this, so creative marketers will readily take advantage.
We've taken steps to make it as easy as possible for your customers to discover you on Messenger. You can use Web plugins, Messenger Codes, Messenger Links, or Messenger Usernames. We've also focused on the ecosystem that developers use, enabling many platforms that have made it even easier to access Messenger tools, including Shopify, Twilio, and Zendesk. And, for businesses that already take advantage of using SMS for real-time communication - like when your food delivery is at your door or when your ride is outside - with customer matching tools, we've built a new way for you to easily transfer those conversations to Messenger.