The world of software development has evolved in leaps and bounds during recent years. While critical in terms of business operations, this observation has also not been lost on the end user. Customers now expect to access personalised and targeted solutions with the click of a button. No longer are they satisfied with generic engagement processes. These situations have been addressed with the rise of the chatbot and yet there is still some conjecture in regards to whether an off-of-the shelf platform is sufficient or a bespoke bundle is the best option. Let us examine this concept in greater detail.
The developmental theory behind chatbots
Chatbots are essentially software applications that are able to mimic (with varying success) a sense of real-time human interaction. These bots are often implemented during situations when questions need to be answered or the user wishes to engage with a specific service. Some common applications associated with modern chatbots include:
- Automated customer service solutions.
- Efficient checkout platforms.
- Sections of websites devoted to frequently asked questions.
- Virtual assistants (Amazon’s Alexa is arguably the best known example)
The first chatbots appeared as far back as 1966 with the development of a system named ELIZA and yet, it was not until the 2010s that more recognisable names came into existence. Examples include Google Now (2010) and Amazon Alexa (2015). Having said this, the efficacy of a chatbot is often determined by how accurately it is able to mimic the responses that would otherwise be provided by a human counterpart. This can be measured by such methods as the Turing test, a set of criteria established by Alan Turing (of Enigma code fame) in 1950 to assess the presence of human-level intelligence in machines. (In real world situations the Turing criteria are modified, as Turing’s concern was more with general intelligence than specific applications) While the levels of AI associated with a specific chatbot will vary, the main question involves whether it is better to procure generic software or a targeted developmental approach is the better option.
Custom-made software or generic solutions for your needs?
There is no doubt that modern chatbots are growing "smarter" and appearing more human in direct correlation with the evolution of processing power and AI technology. However, custom-made software tends to trump generic packages on nearly every occasion. There are several important reasons behind this observation:
1) Custom software brings the ability to customise the interaction criteria
2) Bot interactions can be augmented with human support as required.
3) Bespoke applications are better able to embody reasoning and diagnostic capabilities
4) Custom chat bots can be programmed to include emotional intelligence and to respond ‘empathetically’ to customer requests
5) A custom application will be independent of a manufacturer’s cloud hosting service, preventing you from being locked into a particular provider.
Other metrics such as POS integration and agile e-commerce solutions are other benefits associated with bespoke packages. Generic options may not always be able to adapt to such enterprise-centred requirements.
Keeping abreast of the digital marketing curve
It is an undeniable fact that the role of the chatbot is becoming even more important in regards to client engagement and customer satisfaction. If you have an upcoming project that requires only the most targeted solutions, please contact the team at Brandon Cross Technologies. We will be more than happy to assist further.