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Google makes chatbots accessible with Bot-in-a-Box

Available on Google Cloud, the feature is deployed in AI-powered Business Messages. Using pre-made bots, enterprises can connect with customers on different branded channels.

Google is making it easier for enterprises to use chatbots and get started with conversational AI without the hassle of hiring developers.

Bot-in-a-Box, a conversational AI tool introduced Wednesday, is available in Google's Business Messages system. It's designed to help enterprises connect with their digital customers on different Google channels, such as Google Maps or Google Search, using virtual agents.

To help enterprises deploy the tool, Google is using its AI tools, including Dialogflow. Google said the Bot-in-a-Box will help chatbots understand and respond to customer's questions without the need to write code.

Bot-in-a-Box supports "custom intents," meaning the bot can understand different ways customers are asking similar questions and respond accurately.

Making chatbots accessible

Like a lot of other vendors, Google is trying to ease the implementation of AI-driven tools such as chatbots because such tools add to the customer experience, said Liz Miller, an analyst at Constellation Research.

With this offering and offerings similar to it, vendors are really trying to make chatbots really accessible to organizations that don't necessarily have an in-house development team.
Liz MillerAnalyst, Constellation Research

"With this offering and offerings similar to it, vendors are really trying to make chatbots really accessible to organizations that don't necessarily have an in-house development team," Miller said.

Miller said the product will be particularly useful for small organizations that can't and don't need to deploy an army of developers to implement this product.

She said while chatbots are not easy to put into service, offerings like Bot-in-a-Box makes it relatively simple for organizations to provide a self-service mechanism in many different applications so a customer or user can try to solve problems themselves.

Using chatbots for a larger purpose

Miller said despite the recent accessibility of chatbots, enterprises must view chatbots and their applications as part of a larger strategy that focuses on the value customers receive through their engagement with a chatbot.

A "chatbot is only as meaningful and as useful as the information and journey that it can provide to the user," Miller said.

She said bots tend to reduce the speed at which customers can reach their destinations, and makes them go through some steps before getting there, essentially slowing customers down.

Despite this, bots can be deployed in many ways that are quite useful to a customer. However, if an enterprise doesn't effectively use a chatbot, then many customers will ignore or close out of it.

"If these types of solutions -- these ready-to-go chatbots -- can help me as a developer deliver value faster to my customers, that's the goal of customer service," Miller said. "That's the moment we want. We want our customers to reach for defined value faster."

Screenshot of Google's new Bot-in-a-Box feature
Enterprises can connect with customers on any Google channel with Google's new Bot-in-a-Box product.

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