Why SMS Paired with Chatbots is a Game Changer

SMS and chatbots are becoming commonplace in B2C communication. So, what happens when we combine the two?

SMS

Short Message Service (SMS), or texting, has become ubiquitous in our personal lives and 97% of smartphone users regularly use it to communicate. So, it makes sense that businesses have also adopted SMS to connect with customers; 52% of business leaders in North America say it’s already a major disruption in their industry, and ther are no signs of this trend stopping anytime soon.

The growth in business to customer (B2C) SMS is also supported by customer behavior which shows that 85% of customers prefer receiving text messages over a phone call or email, which contributes to SMS having higher engagement and open rates.

Chatbots

An emerging technology – less familiar than SMS for many – that has been gaining momentum in the communication space are chatbots, which are computer programs designed to simulate conversation with human users through text, speech, and other gestures.

While the word ‘chatbot’ is often used interchangeably with ‘conversational agent,’ chatbots are actually a subcategory of conversational agents/dialog systems. As with everything else in the tech world, the nomenclature can be confusing, so let’s clarify a little bit:

The two categories of conversational agents/dialog systems are task oriented dialog agents and chatbots.

Conversational Agent / Dialog System - Programs that communicate with users in natural language (text, speech, or even both), through the use of word-classification processes and natural language processing. Dialog systems generally fall into two classes, task oriented and chatbots.

Task Oriented Dialog Agents - Programs designed and deployed to help users complete particular tasks, such as helping customers answer questions or address certain problems. These programs are capable of collecting information from users through short conversations.

This category also includes the digital agents which have become commonplace in our cellphones and home controllers; think Alexa, Google Nest, Siri, etc. Chances are, you’ve interacted with task-oriented dialog agents via pop-ups on the bottom right corner of your phone or computer screen – just this morning, I was browsing through my banking app when a message from “Erica,” Bank of America’s virtual financial assistant, asked if I needed assistance.

Chatbots - A mode of conversational AI technology, with programs more sophisticated than that of task-oriented dialog agents. Chatbots are designed for longer, less structured conversations which imitate human-human interaction; they range in complexity but often include the ability to:Understand contextAnalyze emotionLearn from interactionsInteract when needed: proactively, scheduled, on-demand

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Why SMS Paired with Chatbots is a Game Changer