(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 —
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.
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!