But do we really care whether we are interacting with a software program or an actual human being as long as our issue gets addressed quickly and satisfactorily?As consumers, probably not.But as business owners, we particularly care because chatbots represent greater convenience with lower operating costs that can significantly boost the bottom-line performance.Which is why 2016 may be the year of the chatbot.

Follow the prompts, pay for what you buy on that app s site, and your bidding will be done.

If the link isn t activated, the chatbot sends a message asking to complete the order.But wait, there s more.

Because unless you re dealing with a commodity that involves regular and frequent ordering, maybe not.Even so, if you re looking for something that simplifies the question-and-answer phase before a purchase decision, and does it with less cost without human intervention, then maybe.We re hedging here because we re still in the development stages of chatbot applications and, as ComputerWorld senior reporter Sharon Gaudin points out, there are not a lot of established best practices to follow.According to Gartner analyst Brian Blau: Businesses have to write the code and put processes in place to manage that customer conversation... We don't know yet how much infrastructure a business has to put around a chatbot to make it work right.

Just ask Microsoft, whose Tay chatbot aimed at 18- to 24-year-old female social media users went offline after a day of being introduced.

One needs to explicitly teach a system about what is not appropriate, like we do with children.

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