According to some Twitter chatter and a Search Engine Land article, Bing business pages now serve up chatbots. This comes in addition to Bing’s current offerings such as “directions”, “menu” and “online ordering”. The Chatbots are currently available only to restaurants after a test in Seattle Washington near Microsoft’s Headquarters in Redmond. I took a look at this tonight and here’s what I found – a chatbot utilizing artificial intelligence to answer people’s questions right from search results.
Here is what a restaurant in Seattle looks like that is serving up a chatbot:
How to get your own chatbot
At first I thought that maybe Bing was getting this content from Yelp, who has been asking users for additional information about details of places beyond a simple review, however, business owners add their Business Bot via their Bing Places For Business page at https://www.bingplaces.com/bizbot and provide the answers themselves. Restaurateurs (and soon other business owners) may also tell Microsoft which channels to enable chatbots (SMS, Skype, and search results so far).
Playing with bots
Google began asking for additional details about places in July 2016. A frequent question Google asks users is “Does this place have outdoor seating?”, so, the first question I asked the Bing Chatbot for Shiro’s Sushi Restaurant was “Does this place have outdoor seating?”. The bot replied as seen below:
After messing around with the bot I now know that Shiro’s is casual but you should leave the kids and dogs behind and there is no WiFi, which sounds pretty normal for a sushi joint.
Bing’s chatbot is using artificial intelligence (AI) to answer natural language questions as not everyone types in precisely “Does this place have outdoor seating?” – some users may ask something like “Can I sit outside?”.
Here is a video from Bing about the Bing Business Bot:
Will chat bots reduce calls to businesses?
Every business owner knows the standard phone calls:
- Do I need a reservation?
- What are your hours?
It will be interesting to see how this unfolds and how Google reacts.