Chatbots take on a New Role in the Newsroom

  • March 30, 2018

    The stakes are getting higher for chatbots. While many chatbots simply help answer minor customer service related questions, companies are deploying them for handling an increasing amount of transactions and providing more information for customers. As the technology improves, organizations can lean on bots more to drive efficiencies, cut down on overhead and improve the customer experience.

    A recent Columbia Journalism Review article discusses the use of chatbots in newsrooms to create a conversational experience between news sources and their readers. Journalist agree that if chatbots are used for pure distribution purposes, they don’t require much human oversight. However, if used for engagement, newsrooms need to supervise them.

    Helping Readers Access Information Quickly

    The article features Becky Pallack, Product Manager at the Arizona Daily Star. Pallack stresses the importance of transparency when using chatbots for engagement. For Daily Star readers, a chatbot may be their first interaction with the news source. The Daily Star team first deployed the chatbot in small audience test populations to learn more about the technology. Each project focused on a specific purpose such as helping local parents find the best summer camp for their kids or helping people crossing the border into Mexico quickly inquire about border wait times. What they found was that the bot only proved useful to readers in certain circumstances.

    Chatbots Providing Content Insights

    Chatbots aren’t just helping readers seeking information. Bot inquiries help newsrooms target specific topics to research and break stories about. It’s a conversational method for producing useful content that readers care about.

    Enhancing the Customer Experience

    As discussed in a previous post, chatbots help enhance the customer experience in two primary ways. First, users can obtain helpful information quickly to solve problems, locate the right product to purchase or solve customer service issues. On the other hand, companies gain data and feedback in real time to make adjustments to their services. In the newsroom, this can give news sources a competitive edge in publishing content that will draw more readers than their competition.

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