Here come the chatbots! We’ve been very interested in chatbots lately and in this post we share some thoughts about how to use them.

Chatbots are the rage. And they should be. For a long time I’ve wanted to be able to contact restaurants, retailers and businesses through sms or skype or google hangouts. Now it’s coming, which is awesome.

It feels like the early days of mobile when there was so much opportunity to build different apps. At the same time, is this more hype than reality? We won’t know that answer for a long time.

So what are some ideas for chatbots? There are a number around retail and restaurants for ordering food, making reservations and ecommerce. What about some other ideas?

This post will focus on corporate related chatbots. How could chatbots make companies more efficient? Let’s focus on customer service. It’s always been my dream to be able to text, skype of google chat with any company around customer service. I think this will be more feasible in the near future.

The customer service chatbot could be across every single messaging platform. But how would it would work? Would I need to have a chatbot for each company? That sounds like a lot, and onerous, messy. There almost needs to be a customer service directory. That way you only need to download one chatbot that will give you access to thousands of companies’ chatbots.

For example, in skype you could have a chatbot for your internet provider, your cell provider, healthcare provider, plumber, landscaping and others. I guess it wouldn’t be too messy to have these chatbots. But what happens when you want to contact the local vacuum servicing company. Do you really want to download their chatbot? Sounds annoying.  You could end up with hundreds of chatbots you rarely use.

That’s where the customer service directory comes in. This chatbot would know your location so when you type “Olson Vacuum”, the chat for Olson Vacuum in Madison, WI would come up. Then I could make a reservation or ask how much it’d cost to replace a certain part.

This is a fairly simple example, customer service. Over time the customer service chatbots should be able to do lots of stuff and be connected into a company’s internal systems.

For example, I’ve always been impressed with Charter’s phone bot. You call and “She” walks you through a simple diagnostic trying to figure out why your internet isn’t working. Then at some point She’ll say, let me reset your modem for you. At first it feels magical because I never talked to a human and here my modem is resetting. It’s wonderful. This example could be taken farther into all products especially as more and more are connected to the internet. Chatbots will be able to understand and service many products on their own.

Going back to our vacuum repair example, when your vacuum is connected to the internet, the chatbot could automatically diagnose the issues you’re having with your vacuum. Then the chatbot could make recommendations and give you pricing. If you say yes, it could book you an appointment. Then their friendly robot will come to your house to fix your vacuum. OK, that won’t happen any time in the near future, but the chatbot with all of its capabilities will happen in the nearish future.

It’ll be a chatbot service world.

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