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Chatbots and Conversational UI have more in common with mobile apps than we initially thought. In this blog, I look at the different ways companies integrate chatbots within mobile apps today.
The predominant notion of a chatbot is to deploy it within an already established messaging channel such as Facebook Messenger, Slack, or Skype. However, on the verge of Facebook’s data privacy frenzy, it’s no surprise that enterprises are looking to build chatbots that communicate with customers in their proprietary or private channels. The practice of deploying a web chat on a website is commonly used among enterprises for the purpose of live chat or chatbot self-service. And some companies are transferring this conversational experience straight into their mobile apps.
There are three main ways companies integrate chatbots and mobile apps today: Chatbot as an App, Chatbot in a Tab and Chatbot as UI. Each of the approaches calls for a different objective with its pros and cons.
The first use case is the most straightforward one. You simply bundle a chatbot within a mobile app and distribute it to the app stores. Your main objective with this approach is to provide a dedicated, always-on channel for your users to perform customer self-service.
The Progress Virtual Assistant chatbot enables employees to deal with organizational and administrative tasks at work. The chatbot is distributed through a mobile app that facilitates authentication of users against the corporate domain infrastructure.
Source: Progress Virtual Assistant mobile app for iOS built with NativeScript
Interestingly enough, in our conversations with customers willing to build chatbots as dedicated mobile apps, we have identified that the majority of use cases where companies want to build chatbot as an app are focused on internal employee facing scenarios. One of the reasons for this is that enterprise-grade messaging platforms like Skype for Business have yet to catch up to the consumer platforms in terms of chatbot support, adoption and ecosystem.
The biggest challenge with the first approach is the introduction of a separate app that is effectively a new channel which requires effort and resources to grow. And since app fatigue is a real thing, a more effective way would be to incorporate a chatbot in an already existing mobile app that has a userbase.
The IBKR Mobile trading app from Interactive Brokers provides electronic access to stocks, options, forex, futures and futures options in a comprehensive and immersive mobile app. To complement the mobile experience, Interactive Brokers have created a separate Tab for their IBot chatbot.
The best way to build a chatbot within your existing mobile app would be if you have lengthy and repetitive forms that you want to optimize. Structured processes such as submitting stock orders, signing up for an insurance or opening a bank account are good candidates. Also, newly acquired users tend to feel more comfortable with a chatbot getting started experience rather than complex UIs.
The third approach takes no prisoners. Instead of siloing the chatbot in a separate app or cornering it, you can simply use conversational UI instead of traditional UI in common places of low engagement and high abandonment rates.
There is no better example of a low engagement screen than a registration form for a new bank account. To ease the experience of entering a myriad of fields and legal checks necessary to open an account, KBC Mobile Banking Ireland has released an app that helps you go through this experience using conversational UI.
Source: KBC Mobile Banking Ireland mobile app for iOS
Whenever you have a high abandonment rate of your forms or important areas of little or no engagement.
At Progress NativeChat, we are constantly talking with companies who are integrating and deploying chatbots. Integration with mobile apps is a new and interesting area that we are constantly exploring. We are currently building a set of NativeScript plug-ins that will allow you to easily achieve all of the three use cases above. If you are interested in getting involved, ping us.
For a quick preview, open this (4 lines of code) template in NativeScript Playground and run it on your device by clicking the Preview button and following the instructions. Once the app is up and running, ask the chatbot to find you an insurance for a trip to a country of choice.
Hristo is responsible for bootstrapping and leading new products at Progress in markets that have strong potential (>$1 billion) and are growing with CAGR 30% and above. Hristo has been with Progress for more than 10 years and is currently leading Progress NativeChat, an artificial intelligence-driven platform for creating and deploying chatbots based on patent pending CognitiveFlow technology that can be trained with goals, examples and data from existing backend systems.
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