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Made in India. Made for India

India is a born leader, and like many of the countries leader have believed, India is destined to play an extremely important role in leading the world in the right direction. For India to truly play the role it is meant to, it is extremely important that it realizes its potential to the fullest. Eyeing at this dream Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi flagged the Make In India campaign in September 2014 which cannot be achieved without achieving a completely Digital India, a campaign he flagged in June 2015. Keeping this as the base we in October 2015 started working on a platform which envisions these dreams and is a truly Made In India product, primarily Made for India but has the potential to take on the world.

 

The biggest tech companies globally, in their road map into the future have put great emphasis on Chat Bots and we are able to see their work take shape but the problem is that none of these giants are building the products with India in mind. India is a land of great diversity, language here takes a twist at an average of every 3 Km, there are a lot of factors which may seem completely unrelated to the business but have a huge impact on how the customers interact with a business. The requirements of the business and the expectations of the customer from the business is much more varied in India as compared globally.

 

In the Indian market building and deploying Artificial Intelligence is a humongous task, piling on which there is a challenge to implement NLP (natural language processing) due to the varied dialects and language patterns spanning only a few kilometers. We have built Zootout keeping in mind the same, for us AI has a completely different perspective, for us it is Assisted Interface.

 

We believe that if it isn’t for Assisted Interface, nobody will be able to build a product truly for India and with a vision to include everybody in it. Any product that is not using Assisted Interface will find itself restricted only to a very small population of this vast expanse. Therefore, we believe that Zootout chat bots are truly Made in India. Made for India

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How Bots Will Work

Chat bots are computer programs designed specifically to communicate with users as if it were human. Chat bot is still in it’s early days and yet a lot of people have stated the chat bots to be replace webpages.

 

From an outsider’s perspective chat bots look extremely simple as it is nothing more than a bunch of decision based flow charts with predictable outcomes but we beg to differ. We have spent a lot of time in understanding and building our playbook for How Bots Will Work?  and this blog is a sneak peak into what we figure as the points of extreme caution in building the chat bots.

 

  • Bots are meant to make life simpler

The bots should be able to lead you to a valuable result with minimal inputs from the user. The bot should be aware, and even anticipate the needs of the user by leveraging previously stored information. Integrations and contextual relevancy are the key for an experience that saves time, effort and stress with minimum friction, if not for this how are bots better from websites or apps that came before it.

 

  • Start simple and focused

The number of paths the conversation can take increases the potential for dead ends. Every bit of information you show competes with relevant information thus decreasing the relative visibility of the information. It is better to build a focused chat bot with a clear value proposition rather than filling the container with more than what it can hold and creating a mess. Chatting with a dumb chat bot is no different than an IVR, Nobody likes it!

 

  • Bots need to be self explanatory

The bot needs to be designed smartly to incorporate a learning curve for the new users, not only should the bot inform the user of its capabilities but also present with opportunities to explore other features of the bot. You cannot expect a new user to figure everything out on its own.

 

  • Personality makes an impression

The first impression does matter and giving your bot a personality will help you make an impression on your users. There is clear distinction between the content and the deliver, i.e. the what and how. Every business needs to define its relationship with its user and this will define the personality of the bot, for instance a law firm will have a very professional relation with its user while a fashion store needs to have more a friendly approach, these personality traits need to be reflected in the bots. If you muss out on this key element, you will have successfully accomplished in creating a unattractive and un-interactive alternate to an application.

 

  • Interaction should be short and simple

Chat bots represent a transition from GUI to no UI, long messages sent to fast are difficult to comprehend and moreover you don’t want your users to have to scroll back up to read the entire messages. Also the user tends to skim the messages rather than reading it all in case of long messages increasing the chance of missing important communication. Contextual and previously stored information should help shorten the complicated flows and allow repetitive tasks to be done as simply as one click.

 

  • Create an hybrid experience

GUI replaced the text based terminals for a reason, some tasks are simply faster with touch or click. Though most of the users are accustomed to use text for communicating, but it not be efficient for all use cases. Structured information is a very interesting way, however over reliance on structured messages may quickly lose the conversational element and alienate the user into an artificial world. Structured messages can efficiently be used as a guiding tool. For example rather than asking user to type his response in a ‘yes’ or ‘no’, you can use structured message with two buttons.

 

  • Suggest the next step

A smart bot should suggest the next steps to the user, this will not only help you steer the conversation in the desired direction but also help users discover additional functionalities. To top it off you plan your flows properly you can avoid bombarding the user with a wall of information and help them move forward. For example when your bot responds with a confirmation of an travel ticket, that bot can suggest booking of hotel rooms along with it.

 

  • Always reply back

Basic human courtesy is whenever somebody communicates with you, you always respond it might be a simple gesture of acknowledgement or answer to its question, likewise make it a point that your bot responds to the user input every time or you will never be able to provide a human like experience to the user. The last conversations by the user not only demand an acknowledgement from the bot, but also present a unique opportunity to upsell, or bridge the gap between you and your user by showing you care.

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Bots Without Conversation

Earlier this year, we had seen the hype about bots at its peak when Facebook opened its bot platform for messenger and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella went on to predict that bots will be as big as apps. But today it seems that the hype has somewhat cooled down and people have started asking “What was the big fuss about?”

 

We at Zootout agree with everyone else so far, there has not been a killer bot uptil now that is even close to what the hype promised, yet we remain bullish and optimistic about bots. It has only been a few months and the technology itself is in its nascent stage, we are doing everything with the best of our capabilities to deliver what has been promised in the least possible time.

 

One thing that has been evidently clear in the learning so far is that the emphasis of conversational commerce has been a mistake and the problem with the conversational aspects of bots is the fact that natural language processing and artificial intelligence are yet not accomplished in handling human like conversations. Industry experts have expressed similar views across the globe.

 

So Why are Bots the next big thing? The point is that the time people are spending on chat applications is unparalleled and bots enable people to do more while they are there, creation of these experiences inside the chat for the user is what makes the bots so amazing. Despite of the conversational aspect bots have a lot of value propositions to offer, few out of which are

 

  • Adaptable:- Bots are extremely easy to use as there is no new app to download, no new account to create and no new interface to learn.

 

  • Consolidated:- Instead of numerous similar looking and similar working apps on your mobile home screen, you can find all the bots in a chat like interface occupying extremely low storage in a single app on your phone

 

  • Apps in Messages:- All have agreed chat to be an indispensable tool for customer service. Rather than adding a messaging layer to all the apps, bots offer a role reversal by adding everyday apps of the user into messaging.

 

WeChat has completely taken over China. It is not a conversation based service, instead a lot of instant interactions and the reasons for its success as an exosystem are pretty much the same as we offer.

 

  • Frictionless access to apps
  • Sharing related discovery (as well as QR codes)
  • Standardized UI
  • Messaging as the gateway to new digital experience

 

Those were early days and there are still few missing pieces in the puzzle and the Eureka moment for the bots is still to come. Our soon to come developer platform will help us thrust forward towards delivering on our promises. The developers will open a gateway of innovation for the bots.

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Conversational Marketing

It is a whole new world out there. The old recipe to Write a tagline, Make a TV Commercial, Make a Poster and paste it wherever you can in the name of ‘integrated marketing’ has turned sour. This does not appeal to the new demographics.

 

What is the New Demographics and what they want?

New demographics comprise of the so called the younger generation of today or like the marketeers like to call it the Gen Z. This is a generation of digital natives, they learned using a smartphone or tablet even before they could talk. They not only understand technology but also speak it, technology has become their native language.

 

The digital revolution has already forced the marketeers to change its strategy from ‘digital first’ to ‘mobile first’. The Gen Z combined with the digital revolution is a puzzle which has forced the CEO’s and CMO’s to realign with their priorities.

 

Messaging is the new medium

After spending a little time amongst Gen Z, the one thing I learned is that they send messages as they breathe, they are mean texting machines. They send messages to each other literally sitting in the same room without anyone else to eavesdrop their chat and in doing so they do not have the slightest sense of social awkwardness. I’ve come to believe they might feel awkward the other way around.

 

Talking about the numbers from business insider, The monthly active users from each of the top 4 messaging apps is more than top 4 social networks combined and is constantly increasing. Now this does not symbolize a trend but rather it signals to a paradigm shift. Goodbye Interruptions, Hello Conversations. To truly leverage this conversational opportunity the marketeers not only have to learn new rules of the game but have to embrace it arms spread. Here are a few of them.

 

  • One-to-One VS One-to-Many

For the first time in the history of advertising/marketing the brands have the golden opportunity to connect with the customers on personal level rather than broadcasting the brand message. We can no longer use the same message across all platforms. Marketeers will have to tailor every message to the context, timing and the nature of the conversation since no person or platform is created equal.

With this opportunity comes immense responsibility of rethinking our strategy of broadcasting brand messages. You cannot use the conventional ‘yell and sell’ strategy because messaging is about chat and listen.

  • The Big Data Game

One-to-one communication creates a platform to sequence  messages in a natural,contextual and a human way. This gives us tons of personal insights and actionable data. The aggregate of conversational insights is  more valuable because it is much more structured which allows the marketeers to break it down into smaller units and sub-units of data (conversions, phrases, to words) that is easy to comprehend and execute on. This actionable data puts any marketeer into the game of big data, which if used wisely would give revelations like never before. 

This is the only reason why conversational marketing has become a potential goldmine for marketeers which only an ill-advised imbicible will overlook.

 

  • Picture Perfect VS. Available

Unlike Gen X, the Gen Z has a high affinity towards the real and raw thanks to applications like periscope & snapchat, which define the new social currency. Therefore always being available for your customers has become more real and important than being picture perfect. Conversational marketing tools such as chat bots give the brands a native advantage of being always available without requiring a lot of resources and attention. They give your customers 24×7 access into your world where you define the conceptual and functional boundaries, which might not always be picture perfect.

The sense of being available at the time of need works as an invite to the customers messaging network giving you unprecedented access to their needs, wants and psyche. In the new world being genuine and instantaneous is much more important than perfection.

Messaging truly is king. Conversations will become the new engagement metrics of the modern day, it’s time for marketeers to review their priority list as shouting might turn out to be a losing game in this new paradigm. The later the brands jump on to the bandwagon, the further behind they might find themselves in a few months or years.

 

Messaging as a new marketing medium has endless possibilities and is like a blank canvas waiting for the new gen marketeers to explore it, exploit it and paint it the way they like.

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