My client was feeling a bit upset. His long term programmer-partner was not interested in working on my client's new proposal which involved chatbots. Why? "Chatbots are overhyped and useless" - according to the programmer-partner.
Maybe you are feeling the same way.
Here is what I suggested to my client - instead of calling it a chatbot, sell it to your partner as a "NLU powered digital assistant". After all, that's just as accurate, and probably a lot less of a loaded term today.
The problem with the word chatbot
As you can see, I am not a big fan of using the word chatbot, especially when it is used to describe software which doesn't actually use NLU. At the same time, new words like chatbots are very useful for an industry to converge around topics of importance. They provide concise terminology to represent otherwise much longer phrases (e.g. "Natural Language Understanding powered digital assistants" is quite a mouthful!). Unfortunately, they also become magnets for attracting terminology abuse over time. For example, in no meaningful sense is a Chatfuel autoresponder sequence a "chatbot".
In any case, the issue with the hype (and corresponding disappointment) around chatbots is that there is too much importance given to the word "chat" (empathy) and not enough importance given to the term "bot" (automation). As a consequence, you may be missing out on a lot of potential improvements in your existing business workflow.
Focus on incremental workflow automation
For example, here is a video I have created on how you can incrementally - in a safe, transparent way - add some NLU powered automation into your existing business workflow.
The video above is part of a course I have put together which talks about things you should know before you decide to invest in Dialogflow chatbots (and even chatbots in general).
Want to get all the videos?
I have added a new chapter to my "Dialogflow for Non-programmers" course which discusses some things you should know before you build your Dialogflow chatbot.
- Why should I use Dialogflow instead of Chatfuel/Drift?
- Can a bot actually understand what a human says?
- Will chatbots replace human operators?
- Can a bot replace my existing workflow?
- Are chatbots hard to build?
- Why should I choose Dialogflow over other bot frameworks like LUIS/Lex?
- Can I create an intelligent bot without writing code?
Who should buy this course?
In my view, this course will help non-programmers get a more rounded perspective on the world of NLU-powered bots before they invest a lot of resources into creating one.
Getting this course will help you
- avoid the hype and have realistic expectations before building your chatbot
- save time, money, energy and any unnecessary headaches by getting a more complete picture of the bot ecosystem
- give you some solid reasons why you should learn about conversational interfaces even if you then choose not to invest in building one
There are two standard disclaimers here:
1 I am a Dialogflow consultant who has dabbled in the other bot frameworks. So I don't make any claim that I am completely unbiased.
2 You might find some of my course material quite opinionated. Most of these opinions, however, are based on having helped many people build bots which work as expected.
The price of the course has now been raised to $39. But you can get it at the old price ($29) by using the link below till end of day Tuesday (Jan 22nd 2019) UTC time.
Interested in getting this course separately? You can also get it here.