Rise of the ChatFAQ or InfoBot

chatbot hologram

Not all businesses need an AI-powered mega-chatbot capable of answering every question up to and including “what is the meaning of life?” The rise of chatbots handing out specific information in a FAQ-like format is an increasingly popular choice, creating InfoBots that can fulfill a specific function neatly and efficiently while saving the user time without having to ask the obvious questions.

We are always on the lookout for changes in how chatbots are being used, and this summer there seems to be a fresh trend in discrete InfoBots offering a succinct feed of information

Take the BBC’s approach to The Ashes cricket series between Australia and England. Lots of new and young fans might be tuning into their first series, especially on the back of England’s World Cup win. They might not know much about the series’ 137-year history, the key players and the differences between test and other forms of cricket.

Rather than feeding people an unwieldy FAQ, or sending them off to different links, the InfoBot allows people to instantly find answers to the questions they might have without the need to think about phrasing them correctly or typing them.

While knowledgeable fans might skip the whole item completely, those with a growing or passing interest will find InfoBots increasingly useful to answer that key bit of essential info or trivia they might be after.

The Universal Useful Bot

The InfoBot provides a more accessible format than the traditional FAQ, and is applicable to any business or organisation, not just media giants and big sporting events. They can be used to provide links of further interest, encourage sign-ups to receive more information, and can provide a tree-list of critical or useful information for customers, new fans and through taps or clicks are one of the quickest ways to navigate any stream of information.

While the BBC bot is a collection of static information, there’s no reason for these bots not to link to live data. Public transport InfoBots can link to live bus or train data, and since people only need to know three or four similar pieces of information:

  • Where can I catch the service to town?
  • When is the next one due?
  • Are there delays on this route?
  • Is there room for bikes/buggies on that service?

the InfoBot can be the first port of call on an app or website to handle those requests. A fully fledged chatbot is more suitable for airlines and hotels where complex queries are required, or for booking train tickets in the future, but 99% of public transport users are only worried about that next connection.

Any business can build a helpful InfoBot using SnatchBot or other service, based on existing FAQ information, or the common questions that the company faces on its social media touchpoints and removing the need for people to think of the question or type it speeds up the interaction process, all you need is the correct answer or information that delivers a positive outcome.

That makes the InfoBot-class of chatbot easier to operate and launch, making a great first way to develop a bot without the need for digging into the realms of natural language processing, chatbot training and other issues.

Consider an InfoBot as a first step on the road to fully-functional chatbots that are fast-becoming the norm for customer service interactions, information sharing and even sales and operational tasks. And, as your company or team gains experience, you can use the InfoBot as the basis for your expanded bots, as demonstrated by Sky Sports’ JeffBot which uses a mix of information pointers (News, videos, fixtures etc) or users’ text input to provide the latest information for the new football season.

The key to successful launch and adoption of any bot is that it answers the questions your customers need to know. For a startup business, that can be what products or services you offer, where they are available and what the benefits are. Ultimately, the InfoBot provides a useful on-ramp for businesses and customers to chatbots

Footnote: We capitalised InfoBot to distinguish it from the 90’s infobots that operated on Internet Relay Chat in the 90s.

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