The following is a guest contributed post from Beerud Sheth, Gupshup’s founder and CEO.
With the ubiquity of mobile devices consumers want to be able to reach business anytime, anywhere. Also, they don’t want to have to tinker with browsers and apps; they just want to be able to have a quick chat with someone right now that can answer their specific queries. Shoppers want the right answers to their questions and find what they need quickly. Buyers will want to make a purchase instantly. And customers will want their problems resolved quickly by customer support teams.
This requires businesses to have the infrastructure and teams to support always-on, instant chat with a large number of prospects and customers. This is driving the recent interest in conversational interfaces by marketers. Conversational experiences are set to transform virtually every business function from marketing to sales to support.
There are many tools available for building conversational experiences. However, many of them are built for developers with technical skills. Marketers and designers need simpler tools better suited to their requirements. They need the ability to create conversational flows quickly and easily and tie it into their marketing campaigns.
To address this need, Gupshup recently launched the Flow Bot Builder. This is a graphical wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) tool that can be used by anybody irrespective of their technical skills. Designing a conversation with it is as simple as building a flow chart. Each node in the flowchart describes a bot statement or a potential user response. By creating a series of links between bot statements and user responses, you get a full conversation. Bot statements are not just plain text but can also include rich media such as images, audio, video and emojis. They can also include structured elements such as surveys, polls carousels and quick replies. This can take as little as a few minutes. Every step of the way, the marketer can quickly test the bot and iterate over incremental improvements.
While there are other graphical tools out there, most of them integrate with just one or two messaging channels. By being built on the Gupshup messaging platform, bots built on the Flow Bot Builder can run on 30 plus messaging channels across text, voice, web and app.
Since there is an inevitable trade-off between graphical tools and programmability, most other graphical tools limit functionality in exchange for usability.
Marketers that want their technical colleagues to program additional functionality or integrations find themselves severely constrained. However, the gupshup flow bot Builder is architected in a different way and side-steps the trade-off between usability and programmability. The Gupshup Flow Bot Builder is built on top of the Gupshup IDE Bot Builder. With one click, a user can convert the graphical flow into programming code and then have the full ability to make any programmatic changes to it. It is a fully integrated developer environment (IDE) that software developers are very familiar with.
This means that large teams can collaborate where the marketer or the designer may use the flow Builder to create the conversational flow and the software Developers add the integrations and other advanced capabilities to it in parallel. This is a critical requirement for advanced marketers managing diverse campaigns.
The flow Builder is also fully integrated with common development tools such as GitHub. This means that bot builders can share their bots with others or clone bots built by others. This further drives reuse of previously built bots as well as collaboration among large teams.
The flow Builder can also be tightly linked with campaign tools. This means that marketers can run campaigns whose call to action links initiate a conversation that’s modeled by the Flow Builder. Now, campaigns can become conversational that is they can answer additional questions that users may have about the offer.
The flow Builder is a game changer and a huge step forward in usability, simplicity, extensibility, channel support and team support.