How to Turn Business Chatbots Into Startup Dollar Signs

February 1, 2017

9:15 am

Chatbots are everywhere, whether we realize it or not. And as the technology evolves, our robotic brethren are increasingly deceptive. Think about the last time you chatted with an online customer service representative. How confident are you that you were talking with a human?

Regardless of whether they’ve passed the Turing test, chatbots have numerous business applications. Whether it’s as customer service representative that can help with troubleshooting and account issues or shopping assistant bots that can make recommendations, the uses are endless. Some chatbots can even be used to schedule meetings and perform business tasks that would otherwise fall on your plate.

Chatbots are an integral part of building seamless user experiences. They’re available 24/7, they don’t require users to pick up a phone and work through an automated call, and they can use APIs to accomplish incredible things such as adjusting tone according to the emotions of users. The possibilities are endless.

Show Me the Money

The growth of chatbots has been exponential, but companies have still struggled to monetize the groundbreaking technology. The main hurdle to monetization has been the lack of a direct return on investment from bots. Instead of powering mission-critical business operations, they more commonly serve as an appendix of user experiences.

Chatbots are becoming more ubiquitous, though, and the experiences can become increasingly complex as users become more familiar with how they operate. Once chatbots become a core function of businesses, we should finally see ways to monetize the technology. Chatbots focused on lead generation, for example, can more easily prove — or disprove — their direct ROI.

Thankfully, measuring ROI is set to become simpler. The inclusion of analytics features in platforms will help companies gauge bot performance. Facebook recently announced analytics support for the company’s bot platform, which should help spark more advanced and useful bots.

Putting Chatbots to Work

While the ultimate value of chatbots in the business world is unrealized, there are a few steps your company can take to ensure you’re positioned to monetize this exciting technology.

Charge on the Basis of Conversion

Lease out your ecommerce chatbot for free, and it could get a commission from each sale it makes. You could also charge a flat fee per user query, employing a business model similar to Evisors by backing a bot with a massive information database.

Stay Flexible

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. People want bots that work with a wide variety of platforms and devices, which requires an API that’s relatively easy to implement and scale — people will pay for that.

Sponsor content

Tread carefully here, as you could inadvertently build an annoying ad-serving bot that angers users. With carefully curated offerings, however, your chatbot could provide restaurant recommendations, airline deals, or news articles to fit user tastes. You can be certain advertisers will be eager to get a slice of the pie.

The Future of Chatbots

Chatbots aren’t going anywhere, and adoption continues to grow at companies big and small. LinkedIn is embracing bots to help individuals connect, and we can only imagine the endless use cases that will arise as Amazon’s Alexa continues to mature. While the process of monetizing this new technology will be slow, it’s only a matter of time before companies are using bots to assist customers and guide them along the buyer’s journey. So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to put chatbots to work for you.

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Joe Hanson is on the developer marketing team at PubNub, a groundbreaking data stream network for mobile applications. PubNub enables customers to build, scale, and manage real-time functionality for web and mobile applications and IoT devices. Joe has several years of experience in the content world, and has written for a number of IoT and SaaS blogs including Atmel, Texas Instruments, and Microchip.

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