Great idea Wendy and all, I've also been thinking about this, and yes while it should be used with some strict criteria (like #1 transparency that it is a bot and not human and #2 only to be used in certain basic use cases) I think it could be quite useful. I'm also interesting in the idea of using "AI" (although I hate calling it that, is not really intelligent or self-aware now is it?) to mine community threads for sentiment, also for insights on content creation, themes, etc. I know they were working on it when I was at Autodesk, great to see they launched Otto!
A little update on our "experiment"
We played arround a little with some tools. Most promising was https://www.motion.ai
We where able to program a very simple "on boarding" chatbot that is able to
1. Give a quick intro
2. Guide to the relevant areas of the community
3. Help users to "solve their problem" by providing the "next best activity" such as "search", "post"
Currently working on our DEV environment to play around hoping to make it a little more public soon ;-)
Great discussion, personally I feel the best place for AI is linking customers to the information they are after. I'm not yet sold on a bot/agent directly answering questions. However improving search results and content recommendation using machine learning to provide "casual intelligence" would be cool. There are systems now detecting online fraud and providing product recommendations and not to mention targetted advertising. There is a great article on this here - http://adage.com/article/digitalnext/ethics-ai-advertising/309535/
We also developed one chat bot integrated Live Chat Widget `Messengerify` which can be used for any websites. We are at intial phase so guys review our widget and help us to improve ourselves.
I'm actively exploring adding a chatbot to our community as part of a wider digital service rollout.
We did a few custom integrations with Lithium and have a "Chatbot Prototype" running on our Dev. environment.
Our main goal for the first version of the chatbot in the community was "onboarding" that means point users to the right direction and action within the community but it is of course extendable to the entire self-service sphere.
I understand that the main goal is deflection so you have to think about if you try to solve the case on the community entirely or if you want to guide the user to other valueable self-service sources (e.g. by offering the Top 10 self-service questions in a conversational chatbot interface in the community)
We played around with a few.
- https://www.motion.ai (was bought by Hubspot, so not usable independent anymore)
But there are hundreds out there and we continue to test out more of them.
Do's and Dont's:
I think we did not learned enough (and we did not launch the bot yet) to really have some Do's and Dont's.
We currently have a widget running in one of our production communities that shows users a "next best activity". Here we see that it is really critical when (we currently only display it if a user is in a thread and scrolls down) and how (currently it is only a question mark that appears and not a call to action like "search over") you show that content. We'll continue to play around with this (A/B tests) and see if we se changes in conversion and bounce rate. Also we already learned what activity most users go for, it is search over followed by "post a message". After all users who click do not bounce much but only a small part of users really starts to use the widget. A chatbot for example could be a lot more "proactive" by offering a open window conversation...not sure if users will accept but we'll try this out and compare.
What chatbot tools are on your shortlist?
Am going to start work on this very thing in the next few weeks. Will report back on progress/blockers etc.
Thanks for that. We've moved onto IBM Watson as the Chatbot solution and now exploring how to use that chatbot as a concierge into Lithium Community - possibly through integrating/replacing the search with a Watson Cognitive Search that feeds back self-serve content incl solutions, otherwise ushers folks to create a new post as required. Will probably impact the volume of posts (down) but improve CX (up)!
That's the plan anyhow!