Wellness and financial sanity-check coaches are already flocking to app stores, heralding a huge rise in the use of chatbots as part of the booming “advice” category. The lure of charging customers for using them via subscriptions, or for a business to automate the “wellness” part of their HR system makes a compelling case.
Having followed the rise of chatbots, one of the welcome use cases has been in personal support. We have seen students able to talk to chatbots when they felt there was no one else to turn to for counselling support, starting a conversation that they can continue with others or health professionals.
Not only are they available all-year round when the faculty office is closed out of term, but they can provide coursework, revision and tutorial guidance, personal and social advice, becoming a permanent fixture for the student. That’s likely to boost their college experience while helping keep their grades up, and saving college staff and faculty huge amounts of time.
Bots like these can give sensitive students information without that feeling they are wasting staff time or are too embarrassed to otherwise ask for. They can also provide trigger alerts (like Twitter does) if topics like suicide or self-harm come up, providing instant support and perhaps alerting a senior figure.
Making the world healthier, one bot at a time
While student bots have a captive audience across each school, college or university, personal and physical health goal-based bots and a major commercial boom area and a key revenue driver for startups or legacy companies in this area.
The problem has always been too few advisors, especially for one-person personal trainers, and too many clients. A personal health/wellness coach chatbot, a financial advisor or other bot instantly makes the core block of advice and encouragement available to all customers at any time. And, as many of these people have apps for goal setting, the chatbot can perform a key role for their app/platform, offering cheerleading and encouragement as part of the daily routine.
For quality services products, there’s lucrative revenue in charging a monthly subscription for the app and chatbot, giving customers more value in terms of feedback and a constant companion in the quest for personal health, wellness, career advice, relationships and other areas.
As long as the quality of advice is high enough and there are a broad range of interactions, satisfied customers will continue to pay for the app and service, providing that much-craved stickiness that these businesses rely on. Wysa is just one example, offering advice on better communications, overcoming stress and anxiety and much more, but there are apps that focus on the individual or offer corporate-level wellness to play a key role in a business ensuring its staff have access to positivity and healthy advice.
5 Reasons why these bots will Win in the market
From chatbot therapists to life coach chatbots and AI-powered personal trainers, there is a huge existing market that will see chatbots as a way to expand and automate their key messages, while new businesses will spring up to offer a bot-first approach to all sorts of health and personal-based areas of life. To win in an increasingly crowded market, those bots will need 5 key skills:
Full of personality
While brands may pack a bot with personality, when it comes to life coaching, people want to feel that someone is along with them for the journey. This personality needs to be calm, encouraging and provide a degree of authority, something AI chatbot developers can craft based on advice from psychologists, keynote speakers, life coaches and mentors in real life who deliver this advice daily.
Using their queues and methods, a chatbot will fast become an essential friend to each customer, perhaps with unique AI tics that make them appeal to each individual. The app or service that can crack the “unique personality for you” chatbot or virtual assistant will gain huge numbers of customers.
Quality of information and reinforcement
Much of the information to be a wellness or health coach bot is already out there, be it from the personal experience of an individual exercise coach, or the combine power of a big-brand wellness business. But the chatbot can deliver each message in subtly different ways to drive reinforcement to avoid coming across as a complete robot and to remain fresh in the eyes of the customer.
Hearing the same message day after day can grate on users, so chatbots provide the perfect avenue for tweaks to messaging and clever use of language without the need for “celebrity cheerleaders” or other gimmicks that appear in some health apps.
Growth through added value
Chatbots add value themselves, but can also link to other services to increase that sense of value and the breadth of the whole package. Consider the bots that offer financial advice like AskCleo, this Facebook Messenger bot can access customers’ bank information, making it an extremely sensitive feature, but can help the customer save lots of money in the long term.
The company behind Cleo notes that “Cleo is extremely safe and secure. We use bank-level encryption and security practices, and Cleo is a read-only service so no-one can ever move money in or out of your account.” But soon most chatbots could access your exercise, health or other history and expand the amount of information and advice it can offer, creating an ecosystem within a chatbot (even talking to other bots for you) to create a single point of contact for full-life coaching.
Achievable and adaptable goals
The aim of all of these apps and services is to help customers along in life, and the chatbot via its backend service can see how people are coming along. Depending on the customer, it can use AI analysis to either dial back a goal to something more achievable or to deliver more encouragement to help them make it.
That will be a big step up from the current levels of apps that have people flogging themselves mentally or physically to help them to some arbitrary step. As people have good days/weeks/months these AI-powered apps and bots will learn when is a good or bad time to push for achievements and when to provide a consoling virtual arm around the shoulder, mixing positivity with practical advice as they learn more about customers, taking into account seasonal trends and personal circumstances.
The Bot will be everywhere
We’re already seeing some apps grow beyond the smartphone through Alexa skills to Echo devices, while health apps can push and encourage through Apple Watches and other devices. While the traditional chatbot might be fine in an app, text-to-speech and advanced translation tools means that the core service can be available across a smart speaker, within a smart car and talking to any customer in most languages around the world.
There needs to be some consideration, who wants “give it some more effort” messages while in the shower or at a funeral. But, as all digital services combine to provide an overall view of the customer, they will be an ever-present part of our lives, helping with advice when appropriate and knowing when to stay in the background, giving us the right advice or information at the right moments.
With all this power, here and now or in development, chatbots will play a massive role in personal, mental, financial help and in other aspects, and as a lucrative service provides a growing business opportunity.
Chris Knight writes about where technology will take us next, from the power of neural networks, artificial intelligence and chatbots, to the endless worlds promised by augmented and virtual reality. From the latest in gadgets and hardware to how digital businesses can use technology to grow, Chris makes the future clear and understandable to all.