Back in 2016 (oh how time flies), the tech industry was abuzz with the word ‘chatbots’. Many dubbed chatbots as the “new apps”, believing that they would completely transform the way we perceive mobile technology. Although we’ll refrain from making such decisive statements, it’s true that chatbot apps have left quite the mark, particularly in the area of user experience.
The ‘What’ & ‘How’ of Chatbot Apps
Before diving into some cool examples of mobile chatbot apps, let’s take a brief glance at how exactly they work and how far we’ve come in terms of upgrading the digital interface.
The only thing that separates ‘chatbot apps’ from ‘regular apps’ is the user interface. ‘Regular’ ones have a visual interface, comprised of buttons and icons. Chatbots have a chat interface, where a user literally chats with an app and operates it that way. As it is human nature to chat, and recognizing not everyone has the time or can be bothered to learn an app inside-out, a simpler and more intuitive interface can greatly improve the mobile users’ experience for many.
We currently recognize two types of chatbot apps: 1) Those integrated into an app and 2) those which use existing platforms, such as Facebook Messenger, or Kik. What’s the difference between these chatbot examples? With some brands, like for example, H&M or CNN, you can converse through Kik, the messaging platform. For others, you’ll need a dedicated app.
Why You Should Care about Chatbot Apps
You should care for one simple reason – the majority of your audience prefers texting to any other form of interaction through the mobile app.
People born in the ’80s and younger actually prefer texting over talking, according to a recent OpenMarket report. It was also said that social media today represents the best channel for customer support.
As such, it’s safe to say that your target audience will probably:
1) Love to chat.
2) Love to use chat to get in touch with you as their favorite brand.
3) Want answers to common questions and quickly.
5 Great Mobile Chatbot Examples
Chatbots in apps have demonstrated a clear ability to enhance UX. In order to better understand this use case, we’ve handpicked five particular chatbot examples we think are successful in their use of this new technology for increasing engagement and bolstering retention.
All of the following chatbot examples use this technology to create a better experience for their users:
1. eCommerce Chatbot Example: Operator | iOS
Operator is a chatbot app designed to help people buy things. If you want to buy the perfect guitar for your seven-year-old, all you’d need to do is text Operator, and someone, somewhere, would begin researching to find the best deal for you. The chatbot plays the role of the middleman. It will read the user’s message, analyze it and determine who out of Operator’s operators is the best fit for the task.
This app is a good chatbot example of how this technology can complement the work of humans in the workplace. Humans will still be the ones finding the deals, not the chatbot – rather, the bot will be doing the simple, repetitive task. By getting repetitive tasks out of the way, the bot will free up more time for the human employee so they can spend it on more meaningful work.
Using chatbots for a virtual assistant-type app is a win-win situation. Users will have a better experience as using the app will feel easier and more natural. Instead of filling out crude forms and ticking checkboxes to set up all the right parameters, all they’ll need to do is chat with the app and tell it what they need.
Users of this app will also get better service, as the chatbots make sure the best operators are assigned for each task.
The popular language learning chatbot app Duolingo takes an interesting approach. Duolingo wants to help its users practice a new language by conversing with, you guessed it – chatbots.
Embracing the reality that conversation is considered among one of the best ways to learn a foreign language, Duolingo’s users can talk to a bot for as long as they like, and the bot will correct them and suggest proper answers.
Best of all, it can gauge the user’s progress and increase its level, making the process of learning constantly challenging and interesting for users. Through chatbot technology, the app has acquired an almost human touch.
Babylon Health is a medical app which aims to put a ‘doctor’ in the palm of everyone’s hands. It’s similar to other medical apps in terms of what it’s offering (remedy recommendations, possible side-effects, proper dosage, vitals monitoring), but its chat-oriented interface is what makes this app stand out.
Users can interact with this chatbot app about their symptoms 24/7, and obtain fast and accurate medical advice. Unlike simply typing a query on Google and hoping for the best, chatting with the app provides for more tailored, personalized answers. The chatbot enables users to build from a single question and provide specifics about their condition.
Obviously, an app can’t replace a real doctor, so in the case that you actually need one, you’ll also be able to talk to a general practitioner through the app, as well.
Reserve is a ‘hospitality technology platform’ – a chatbot app that allows users to find restaurants and book tables. The user can chat with the app through a platform resembling SMS, and the entire reservation process feels like a human-to-human conversation.
The app is not fully automated, though. Reserve can handle simpler requests on its own, but if the user’s requests are too much for it to handle (for example, if the bot can’t find the type of restaurant or food you’re looking for, it might transfer your request to a human for a more thorough list of recommendations). The chatbot will simply forward it to a member of the Reserve team.
Besides being able to find and book a table, the chatbot also allows users to view the status of their requests and easily make changes if needed. Obviously, this is something other apps of this type can do as well. However, none of them create the feeling as if the user is chatting to a friend who just happens to know every restaurant’s manager, chef, entire staff, and time to spare to help people make dinner reservations.
In summary, this app is fast, simple, convenient and it really feels – custom-tailored and personalized.
Chip is an intelligent money-saving chatbot app for iOS and Android which really takes the whole finance management thing to another level. There are a couple of features which really make this app stand out from others, like the automated transfer of funds into a savings account. By conversing with the app, users can quickly see how much they’re spending, how much they’re saving and how much they actually could be saving.
The messages the app sends to its users are mostly informal and friendly, filled with emojis and GIF images. Nick Ustinov (Chip co-founder) said the app has seen a 64 % conversion from install to account creation since they released a version with the chatbot. “That’s double anything I’ve seen before using a traditional GUI.”
However, not all apps, or app features, require this type of interaction. Specific functions within apps can be improved with the use of chatbots because of their conversational and personalized attributes – that’s why we think we’ll probably be seeing a lot more of this technology in the future.
Chatbots Apps: In Conclusion
The use of chatbots in apps is basically an upgrade to the mobile user interface – they help to bring the most basic type of human interaction to the digital environment. Ironically, the use of ‘robot’ technology can make these products less ‘robotic’ and more personal.
A simpler, faster and more intuitive user interface ultimately results in overall better user experience, one of the key factors for mobile growth. Monitoring the relationship between your UX and chatbots is doable through smart qualitative analytics; by using tools like user recordings and touch heatmaps you can assess how users engage with your chatbots in real time.