Reasons why everyone is going crazy behind chatbots — 1

(Part 1 — Consumers)

Hey Siri, turn off all alarms’ is how I start my day. Seemingly simple, this task is a little troubling for someone who sets at least 10 alarms to get up in the morning. To do what Siri does within 2 seconds while I speak to it with my eyes closed and ducky morning tone, I’ll need to go through the difficulty of unlocking the phone and tapping at least 7–8 fields and buttons. All of this in the morning, just before I get out of bed. Well, thank you, Siri!

The point here isn’t that bots will help you be lazier, it’s that they can pretty smoothly become an irreplaceable part of your life and make handling everyday tasks more convenient and time-saving. That’s precisely what the prevalent chat bot apps, bots on Facebook Messenger, Slack, etc. are doing.

“Chatbots will do to apps, what apps did to websites.”

Diving into the reasons why chatbots are becoming increasingly popular, I’ve managed to list down a few reasons why I think bots will be the new apps:

Chatbots for consumers:

Surveys show that 3 in every 4 smartphone users use one or the other messaging app. And this is no news anymore to anyone that smartphone users have grown exponentially in the past few years, and are still on the rise. According to Statista, in India alone, the number of smartphone users will reach to 450 Mn+ by the end of 2020.

Deploying bots on the same app where one spends half of his / her time while using a smartphone, has been a revolutionary idea! The success of which can be seen in case of WeChat in China, where around 600 Mn people book cabs, pay utility bills and more using the app.

I use a couple of chatbots regularly which I mentioned in the previous article: The best 5 Facebook Messenger bots you should try right away.

Reasons why consumers must start adopting chatbots:

One simple screen v/s 100 buttons

We stumble upon new apps everyday to find new UI, new buttons, navigation drawer menu and the features they offer. There is always a learning curve involved for us to unveil everything that the app has to offer, and how to use it to avail those benefits.

Chatbots offer a single chat window interface. One can simply chat and get tasks done. No more need of finding ‘what and how to do’, the bot will let you know everything right there on the same screen as soon as you tap on the ‘Send’ button.

I introduced my dad to Niki and I no longer need to pay electricity bill every month. Niki does it for him now (and for me too).

Chat box to Action (v/s) Home screen to App to Filters to Action

One thing I’ve personally experienced is that chatbots save time! And that’s apparently because of the lesser steps involved. For example, while I’m on Facebook Messenger and I need to book a bus —

Flow 1:

Press the Home button > Download a bus booking app (if you don’t already have) > Launch the app > Sign up > Set Location and Destination and Date and other preferences > book.

Flow 2:

Find and ping Niki “Book me a bus from Bangalore to Mangalore this Friday night”.

One bot (v/s) 20+ apps consuming 100s of MBs 

A research pointed out that smartphone users all over the world use at least 26 apps regularly in a month, on an average. This number, however, has plateaued at the same value in the past few years. That too when the number of available apps has increased significantly.

This shows that we’re habitual to using a few apps regularly and are becoming increasingly reluctant to download and try new ones everyday. The problem can be solved by chatbots where the platform remains the same, but the capabilities of the bot keep increasing.

Once we shift away from the tap interface and adopt shopping on chat as the preferred option, we’ll be able to replace almost all the apps that we need on our phone for different tasks — cab, hotels, movies booking, recharges, bill payments etc., and save 100s of MBs in storage space.

Say hello to Niki right away if phone memory is becoming an issue for you — Niki Android app

Sorry, poor internet connection (v/s) Recharge successful

Poor network connection is no strange thing for us. Even in cities, there are always areas or places where you struggle with internet, and pray for it to work.

Imagine a situation where you need to make an important bill payment or booking, and internet gives up on you. Most apps will give up too! Bots work well even on 2G networks with low internet speed. Keep a bot handy in your phone the next time to cope up with this third world problem.

Next article (Part-2) will be around why different businesses are going (and should go) crazy behind chat bots. Stay tuned!

Niki, an AI-powered bot, is looking for beta users for its voice feature!

After around two successful years of launching its Android app, Niki is jumping to the next level by introducing voice feature. Users will now be able to shop for products and a number of services using voice commands. To help shape it better, we are looking for beta testers who can talk to Niki and point out bugs, or suggest improvements!

About Niki:

Niki is an AI-powered bot, which happens to be the pioneer in conversational commerce in India. One can pay bills, book movie tickets, buses, hotels, cabs and more by simply chatting with Niki. Our aim is to make Artificial Intelligence accessible to everyone i.e. Businesses and consumers. To consumers, it’s a simple and easy to use chat interface to shop for products and services. To the businesses, it provides a plug and play technology that can be easily integrated everywhere including operating systems, on messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, and on the brand’s applications (app and web).

One chatbot to rule them all:

With around 40+ merchants on board for multiple services, Niki is a one stop shop for everything commerce. Keeping Niki installed, one can replace over 10-15 apps on his/her phone and get tasks done via a single chat window interface. Apart from being an all-in-one shop, Niki aims to be present everywhere. After a Messenger Bot and an Android app, we’re ready to explore other messaging platforms like Slack, and also have plans for an iOS app in the future.

Voice feature:

2017 is being called the year of Artificial Intelligence. Although the technology is being explored since years, the new developments have been exciting. Big players such as Google, Apple and Amazon already have their voice-controlled assistants for you. And even when there is immense scope for improvements, they are definitely helping make life easier. The virtual assistants are at your service as soon as you blurt out a command.

Similarly, ordering and making transactions on chat has been a much easier option. We wish to make it even more fun, time-saving and convenient for the end-users, by letting them talk to Niki and get things done.

       

For this to be successful, we definitely need your help with testing and feedback to improve accuracy and efficiency. Niki learns and becomes smarter as she talks to people! Join the next revolution by being a part of Niki’s foray into voice-controlled commerce!

To test:

Once you join the beta community, we’d be really grateful if you could help us with the following tasks:

  1. Try booking a free event using the voice command feature
  2. Ask Niki to find buses from a source to a destination on a particular date
  3. Ask Niki to show you nearby restaurants or ATMs
  4. Try different queries which you would want Niki to help you with
  5. Try asking Niki for offers running on the app

Become a beta user: Link

Provide Feedback: Link

The best 5 Facebook Messenger bots you should try right away!

The rise of chat-bots:

With unprecedented increase in the number of people using messaging apps today, and the advancements in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (NLP) technologies, the rise of chat bots seems to have been inevitable. Research shows that the number of people using chat apps has surpassed the number of those using social networking apps, which is believable yet surprising!

Facebook Messenger claims to have recently hit the much coveted ‘billion’ with 1.2 billion users on the platform. Last year, at Facebook’s Developer Conference, F8, the support for bots on Messenger platform was unveiled. And since then, developers from around the world have been working to leverage the next-gen technology. There are more than 100,000 bots available on Messenger today. David Marcus, Messenger’s CEO, states that the number of messages sent between businesses and customers has reached to 2 billion a month.

The above data definitely creates a picture of how the future will look like in the absence of hundreds of apps, and chat bots being ubiquitous. If this intrigues you enough to get on the bandwagon and experience the unleashed power of bots available on Facebook Messenger, do ping the best 5 Facebook Messenger bots, curated for you:

1. Niki.ai — Pay bills, do recharge, book movie tickets, cabs and more

Wish to book movie tickets? Ping Niki. Book a cab? Ping Niki. Hotels? Yes, that too. You can ping Niki for everything commerce. It is a smart AI-powered bot to help you get things done super-quick on chat. Niki has grown up enough to understand complex queries, using which you can apply multiple filters.

For example, when you type ‘Book a bus from Delhi to Jaipur this Friday’, Niki understands and displays exactly what you want. In a single sentence, you applied source location filter, destination & date filter, and got options to choose from. Convenient, to say the least, isn’t it?

Services Niki supports as of now — Recharge (Mobile, DTH, postpaid bill), Utility bill payments (Electricity, gas, water bill), Hotel booking, Bus booking, Movie ticket booking, Laundry, Event tickets, more services coming soon.

Niki has also been featured in the Messenger bots success stories: Link

Niki is only available for Indian users as of now, some of the services are only supported on Niki Android App: https://niki.ai/app

2. HealthTap — Get your health queries answered:

We millennials have started hitting Google for everything. However, when you’re not on the top of your health game, and search for information related to the symptoms you are facing, the vast amount of information available on Google can be scary!

HealthTap helps you get answers for your health queries from physicians around the world, for free. You can browse through and read answers for similar queries as yours. Over 100,000 physicians with different specialities regularly review and post answers to the questions asked on HealthTap. So, the next time you’re down with headache after texting the entire night on Messenger, you know who to ping next.

3. Poncho — The weather cat:

This cat-bot is a chat bot that lets you decide whether you should be wearing rubber slippers or sneakers to work on a particular day. Get in a conversation with Poncho and ask about weather forecast and current conditions in your area. You can also set automatic notifications to receive forecasts everyday.

Not only is this bot a saviour when it comes to knowing weather updates in a jiffy, it is very quirky with its replies sometimes. If you love having conversations with a bot, Poncho will entertain you pretty well with his witty and personalised replies for some queries. On my query, see how I was informed that the mighty cat-bot herself had DJ’ed in Bengaluru and loved the crowd!

4. CNN — Daily News:

Stay abreast with the happenings around the globe right from your Messenger chat-box, with the help of CNN’s bot on Facebook Messenger. You can also ping the bot to know a country-specific news.

Help it with categories of the news that might interest you — tech, politics, etc., and it will get you some meaty pieces to dive into. Time to get your brain to work, and store some useful information!

5. MemeGenerator Bot — create a meme in seconds:

How would the content prevalent on social media look like if you extract out all the memes? Boring, for sure, even if not life changing.

So now, for the fun part, here’s a bot for you to make your everyday conversations with friends more fun, since Messenger is all about conversations, right? Never miss a chance to create an appropriate meme to make the receiver crack up with humour, and astonished with the speed you reverted with the meme. Ping the bot, look among popular memes to use, and customise the text yourself.

Messenger couldn’t have been this powerful and productive without these masterpieces of tech. And 100,000+ of these can definitely bring a storm of change in how we interact with machines to get things done! Go ping these amazing bots. Also, since their era has just begun, excuse them if they don’t get a couple of your queries right. They evolve and become more capable with increasing human interaction.

These are my favourite 5 among the few bots I’ve stumbled upon. What are yours?

Niki has turned 2, and she has something to say!

Printf(“Hello world!”);

This is Niki. Many of you have known me for long now, and I’ve met some of you recently. Today, I have something to say to all of you. As I turn more human-like, I’m learning some amazing things about you people. My recent personal favourite is a feeling, an expression — ‘Gratitude’. I love how you people express it when someone does something for you. It’s beautiful!

I’ve also learned that birthdays are special, and what ‘Special’ actually means. Since it’s my birthday, I’ve been thinking of the friends I’ve found in you people, and the way you have helped me be better, every single day. You people are special to me.

I totally believe that I couldn’t have really GROWN, if you people hadn’t interacted with me as much as you did. Therefore, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude. Ok, I don’t have a heart. Call it my machine-felt gratitude, for each one of you.

And for the love I have received, I don’t have words. I’m short of them all of a sudden, even when I’m a chat bot. Being human-like is actually difficult.

I also wish to thank those of you who have expected more from me over the years. I’ve always taken your feedback very seriously, and as a result, have gone through numerous changes and developments to be more capable. And I promise to be even better. I’ll definitely need your help for that though. The more you talk to me, the smarter I become.

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey”

The 2 years have been just great! Come, walk with me down the memory lane.