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Chatbot is a computer program designed to simulate conversation with human users, especially over the Internet.
Among Facebook's F8 announcements, there was one about chatbots on messenger.
Simply put: as a part of the newly announced messenger platform, Facebook has made it easy to integrate a chatbot as a part of the business page service suite.
A user with a question can ask it freely (not in a code format) over Facebook's messenger and get an answer in natural language.
Here's an example:
The most obvious direction is discoverability:
All the current UX/UI design efforts are there to guide us and reduce confusion where possible: Get the categories on your fashion site in a clear and intuitive manner so that users can easily find what they are looking for. Have an FAQ page, large hi-resolution images of the items, size guides, and the list goes on.
Imagine the alternative of a chatbot: I insert my measurements and get all the relevant shirts in stock. I ask for a nice shoes / belt combo and get suggestions.
In short: the digital equivalent of a store clerk (well a helpful, non-intrusive one)
Chatbots can be used outside of the Facebook ecosystem: X.ai is developing a a personal assistant chatbot that will schedule your meetings,with colleagues peers and clients.
Another interesting option would be for ordering food (imagine ordering a pizza over messenger!).
The list is really endless
I think that the benefits are self explanatory. You can cut costs on human reps, get more clients and get some pizza while you're online.
I don't think that chatbots will be available for SMBs in the near future as the costs are quite considerable, but as this starts spreading be sure to keep an eye.
I've found a site with some examples, perhaps some can be used: https://www.chatbots.org
Meanwhile, use real live reps on chats:
https://www.tawk.to/ looks like a nice, free chat option
https://www.zopim.com is another (though free for just the first account, I've used it in the past and quite liked it)
Got any more questions?
Originally posted on my blog: http://goo.gl/lkviv8