A NEW business is entirely devoted to creating chatbots, in readiness for the day when humans are eliminated from the vast majority of customer queries.

Santana Studios was set up by 22-year-old Charlton Santana, who says it is the first business locally to deal exclusively in chatbots.

Research company Gartner, has suggested that 85 per cent of customer interactions will be managed without a human by 2020.

“There are a couple of agencies who build chatbots and a few that hand over the reins to a development agency. Santana Studios is dedicated to building chatbots,” he said.

As well as making bespoke chatbots for businesses, the company will make industry-specific bots for anyone in that sector to subscribe to use.

“It allows us to build a better chatbot because the business model is making the chatbots as intelligent as possible,” he said.

Likely uses include allowing customers to book restaurant tables and ask questions about their booking.

Chatbots can take over many queries which would otherwise take up staff time. The software – using messaging platforms such as Facebook – can recognise a host of queries and provide information in response.

“A lot of agencies see it as a problem for developers,” said Mr Santana.

“But at least 50 per cent of the work is figuring out the conversation and how you talk to a person from a bot.”

He said the aim was not to imitate humans. “We’re not trying to pretend it’s a human. It’s like talking to Google Home or Amazon Echo. You know it’s not human but it has a level of understanding where it can respond to you a bit like a human,” he said.

More than half of customers already expect businesses to be open 24 hours a day, and there are three billion messaging app users worldwide – compared with 2.5 billion social media users.

Mr Santana is managing director of the business, based at THIS Workspace in the Daily Echo building, with Phil Collins as developer.

He said the potential uses of chatbots had been discussed extensively for the past couple of years. “It’s dying down a bit but we’re glad it’s dying down because now they’re becoming useful and people want to use them instead of it being a trendy thing to do,” he said.