They are a general category of programs that interact with people via messaging or speech. Speech bots are Alexa, Siri, etc. I will talk about messaging chatbots. Messaging chatbots use your favorite messaging platform: Facebook, WhatsApp, Slack, Telegram, Kik, etc. The program interacts with the platform users like any regular human: by sending and find messages. It might also have some additional capabilities, like reserving eatery tables, buying tickets for concerts and calling taxis.
Chatbots have been gaining in popularity among all age groups: both millennials and baby boomers use them. In 2017, the number of chatbots Facebook Messenger supports grew to 100K and the global chatbot marketplace is expected to reach $1.23 billion by 2025.
Why are chatbots so popular?
There are several reasons for the chatbots’ growing popularity, with two being most important.
A change in platforms. While phone and email used to be the more popular style of contacting a business, it is no longer so. Users prefer to be able to send text messages. Getting a text message reminder about an appointment is still much convenient than a phone call: you save time, as read is quicker than listening, and have a reminder in your phone that you can always go back to. More and more users expect a business to have messaging available. Spam has not reached our messaging yet, at the least not in the epic proportions it has reached our email, and so far companies are determined to keep it that way. Facebook, for example, places strong guidelines on how chatbots can interact with users, and a chatbot can only contact a user if he or she wrote to the bot or subscribed to the page first.