Written by Raquel Herrera. 

Branding doesn’t mean just having a beautiful logo and a product that works. It also implies offering an additional value, something that makes people fall in love with it whilst gives your brand the opportunity to grow. That is, something that makes it special. And real estate, cars and jobs portals won’t stay behind. Reinforcing e-loyalty is one of the most discussed topics in the major events and conferences of the sector? Besides posting ads, many of them have already expanded to additional services. This initiative has a positive effect on user’s long-term loyal relationship with the product, as studies show that they stay longer and come back. 

And what can be more valuable for a customer than speaking directly to him, providing real-time assistance?

Taking this as a starting point, companies have begun to develop services that aim to dialogue with customers… with a small change. Instead of talking to actual people, they talk to machines. And you may be familiar with some of these services we’re talking about. For example, there are robots that help you manage your household, organize your day or provide assistance with your voice, such as Google Home, Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa. But the most popular assisting robots belong to the written word, that work via chat interface. This are called chatbots. You have probably seen them on e-commerce websites, where you can chat with them when you need support. But there are another kind of writing robots that work via messaging systems.

What can be more valuable for a customer than speaking directly to him, providing real-time assistance?
Messaging chatbots

This kind of bots have been thrust into the spotlight due to the possibilities they offer. Imagine that you are looking for a new house and you can search directly from your chat application. Everything without needing to download another app or open the website in your browser. Sounds good, right? Texting apps like Facebook Messenger, Slack or Kik have already created platforms that allow companies to develop bots to generate virtual visits.

But how do messaging chatbots work exactly? It is easier than you think. For example, in the case of Facebook Messenger you just have to start a new chat in the messaging app, answer a few questions about what you’re looking for, and once you are finished the bot delivers you the listings that fit your criteria. Usually you can find open questions (“Which is the city where you’re searching?”) or multiple-choice questions (“Select if you’re looking to rent or buy”).

Searching directly from messaging apps has its advantages. On the first hand, you don’t have to register or download a new app for a specific reason. And let’s be honest: nobody wants to have more than the “essential ones” in his smartphone. They’re also simple, intuitive and familiar for us -we all use chat apps every day- and allows you to have instant notifications. Compared with similar tools, these chatbot can be more convenient than apps or web searches because they can understand natural speech patterns, which makes it closer to the user.

At the real estate portals event of the year, Property Portal Watch, we already had the chance to know how real estate companies like Properati or Zoomsquare are using these chatbots to generate virtual visits and enhance user engagement. But its use goes further than in the real estate sector: companies like Sephora, H&M or TacoBell also allow users to browse or even buy products directly from a messaging app. If you’re curious to know which the top 10 chatbot platforms of our times are, take a look at this article by Entrepeneur.

But the power of chatbots goes beyond that: it looks like they are going to become one of the biggest players in artificial intelligence in 2017, according to Garner’s research. This advisory company also argue that the future of chatbots for business will move towards the use of predictive analysis and big data and personalization of the conversations to improve user experience.

However, developing a good chatbot in a messaging app requires a high level of technology, specially in terms of AI. In the end, the aim of these tools is helping users through a “conversation” as if it was a real person, so it needs to be as natural as possible, and also helpful. If the chatbot has limited options or it is tedious to use, it may be better to use the core service directly. And this is exactly what is happening in many cases. According to this article of The Verge, chatbots still need to develop their memory skills, and the ability to reason if they want to make it. Although this technology is getting closer, it seems that we’ll still have to wait to know what chatbots will bring us in the future!