Chatbots are popping up everywhere – literally. It seems you can’t visit a site without a little box appearing in the corner of the screen to offer automated help and guidance.

Those sites, according to the experts, are onto something.

Chatbots are being touted as one of the biggest trends, not just of this year – but of years to come. Why? Because they can communicate with people so actual humans don’t have to.

The Jetsonian feature – robots trained to respond like humans – will have huge implications for basic customer service, but is not likely to impact more complex customer service jobs or areas like sales, PR and marketing.

Hristo Borisov, the Director of Product Management at US app developers Progress, told Forbes chatbots’ biggest promise is answering simple – but repetitive – customer queries.

This could be anything from stock inquiries to booking appointments and specifying the finer details of services. All things which could have huge efficiencies for all businesses, from large corporations down to SMEs and startups.

How can you get in on the action?

According to our friend (and New Zealand marketing expert) Nathalie Morris, you don’t need to look any further than good old Facebook. Facebook, unsurprisingly, offers sophisticated chatbots for businesses using its pages, says Morris.

She said 2.3 million New Zealanders use the social platform each day and 78 per cent of global users leaving their Messenger notifications on – a rate higher than email.

“If you’re sending messages via a messenger app they are highly likely to receive the notifications and engage.

“When paired with your marketing database, Facebook Messenger bots can personalise content and responses to the user, much like you can personalise emails or other marketing channels.

“Furthermore (for the more advanced) you can code your bot to recognise intent and sentiment and adapt responses accordingly, ensuring that you’re providing a targeted and relevant experience.”

Not only is Facebook’s offerings likely to reach a large audience, but you can link to the tool from your website.

Messenger bots can also be formatted on the platform, at some of these recommended sitesor through your preferred social media experts.

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