Chatbots: A Popped Balloon or a Working Solution?

I recently attended a speech given by Kevin Kelly, the founder and editor of Wired magazine, about how artificial intelligence and machine learning will bring a second Industrial Revolution. He said the actual path of a raindrop as it goes down the valley is unpredictable, but the general direction is inevitable. The coming of the cognitive revolution is inescapable, but we can’t expect artificial behavior to mimic the human one.

It almost immediately raised in me the question, what will happen with chatbots? Has the biggest buzz of the last year died already, has the balloon popped? I looked around and collected some examples that actually work on the market:

#1: News

Utilizing chatbots on the news market is all about character building and distribution. The Washington Post believes their chatbot should act like a reporter: analyze your interests, research on the topics, and give you up-to-date information to feed your information hunger.

New media always strive to find new distribution channels to differentiate themselves – first they started to experiment with social media, then blogs, and now chatbots seem to be the next platform to reach millions of people worldwide.

The difference? Technology affects content consumption. In the past, press meant a certain amount of paper printed and carried in hand. With the arrival of smartphones, that behavior has changed as well – and fully customized content at your fingertips can be the solution to attract the Y and Z generations, which have turned out more ignorant so far.

#2: E-commerce

Online purchasing has changed shopping behaviors in the last two decades, and chatbots may put it on the next level. Forget about searching different brands and getting lost in the abundance of the competitive products.

Brands have started to develop chatbots to provide everyone a personal assistant: they help find the right product and give recommendations to further upsell and be bought with a tap. H&M’s chatbot can put together an entire outfit based on a customer’s favorite products.

#3: Customer support

No industry will ever be able to provide a service or make a product which makes all its customers a 100% percent satisfied and happy. The treatment of complaints or feedback really makes or breaks a deal – negative reviews and lost customers can result.

Slow or non-existent responses annoy customers the most. Chatbots provide instant assistance while optimizing Level 1 support on the consumer market – the customer can be in touch instantly, while receiving the great feeling of using a cutting-edge technology solution. In the worst case, they can still turn to an operator.

Just make sure to reply fast enough, not like when I turned to the customer service of Revolut, a well-known challenger bank, to wait almost an hour to get a reply after the chatbot failed.

#4: Healthcare

Accessing healthcare is one of the most uncomfortable situations which everyone must go through once in a while. We are either afraid to turn to a doctor, simply too busy to visit one – or we start a self-diagnosis and mistreat ourselves using Google.

Chatbots for healthcare with highly curated content can help identify symptoms and suggest the right next steps. While they will never replace health providers, and we would never recommend them for medical emergencies, solutions like Florence can check conditions, remind patients to take medications and find a doctor if necessary.

Are they relevant?

Do you question the relevance of these chatbots? We do too. However, in some cases, chatbots are able to take over 80% of the work of human workforce (customer support, to give an example) and that is a significant progress we can’t ignore. The question is whether chatbots can truly become an everyday communication channel or it will be an incarnation of the once already tried and failed smart agents (like Microsoft Clippy) and come to the same faith.

And guess what? We recently started experimenting with a Messenger Chatbot. It’s called the Product Bot. The purpose of this bot is to share valuable Product and UX Design related content once a week. You might be interested in. If so, you can try it out and subscribe by clicking the following link then press ‘get started’. Here you can try it out and subscribe: Product Bot

I’d like to hear any of your experience about chatbots.

  • Brendon Geils

    Hey nice content on this. We are launching a fitness chatbot after going through the Helsinki BoCo Accelerator. Our product page is here: