Chatbots: A Marketer’s New Best Friend
What once seemed possible only in science fiction is slowly becoming a reality: robots and artificial intelligence (AI) are moving into the mainstream. With recent developments from companies including Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, chatbots particularly have become a rich data source to help brands understand user habits to further personalize the customer experience.
Bots like Apple’s Siri have become commonplace, with many people relying on them to send text messages, schedule appointments, and make dinner reservations. Facebook messenger, which implements a large variety of chatbots to enhance user experience, recently announced they had reached one billion users.
Chatbots have the ability to add a level of personalization that was not possible even five years ago, and this trend will only continue: according to Gartner, only one-third of customer service interactions will require a human intermediary in 2017. Chatbots can help account for this projected redistribution of productivity.
Yet artificial intelligence is nothing without data. No form of AI can be implemented until a system is established for collecting data and using it efficiently and effectively. As AI gains prevalence, what can marketers do to keep up so that they can provide their customers with the best possible experience?
Chatbots Are Friends, not Foes
To start, abandon all notions that AI will replace humans in the customer experience world. Consider the advancement of AI technology as a tool to glean valuable insights into consumer behavior, thus providing the means to improve the customer experience.
AI runs on data that integrates behavioral information with transactional history in order to reveal a 360-degree view of the customer, providing context that allows organizations to make more accurate predictions and recommend the next best action. And by incorporating chatbots into a customer outreach strategy, the quality of customer service can be elevated by delivering yet another touchpoint that did not exist before.
By applying insights generated from chatbot conversations to other interactions emails, retargeted ads, offers and direct customer service experiences — the conversation can be extended to other channels and customized for an individual’s unique needs. When all of this data is collected uniformly and in bulk, marketers can develop a richer consumer profile, introducing a new level of personalization that is becoming the next breakthrough in brand loyalty.
A Means of Improving the Customer Experience
Chatbots should augment, not replace, existing customer service processes, so it’s important for businesses to also address gaps in customer communications that chatbots are unable to fill. Customers still must continue to feel valued and cared for throughout this process in order to allow chatbots to work effectively. And chatbots shouldn’t be thought of as a Band-Aid to cover up poor customer service operations: companies can’t expect chatbots to act as the sole voice of the company without risking potential backlash.
By looking for opportunities to insert chatbots as a new way to connect with a consumer seeking guidance, companies can initiate the process of improving the customer experience most effectively. Though positive outcomes won’t be immediate and entail more effort than simply implementing the chatbots, they can form a natural extension of your brand’s user experience and act as a catalyst for future growth.
Opportunity for Improved Real-Time Analysis
As chatbots become more prevalent, they will generate even more data — and it’s up to companies to make the most of it. Chatbots update in real time to reflect the data being collected as responses are entered, but brands still have the responsibility to monitor, analyze, and act on this data so that they can realize the full benefits of chatbots. Companies not poised to pool real time data, whether because of database support or the limitations of disjointed analytics platforms, won’t be able to see the full ROI from chatbots until their data management processes are cleaned up.
The age of chatbots is upon us; businesses must adapt to the technology if they want to master the customer experience. Though the ever-evolving world of technology can be intimidating, it is important for marketers to understand that this evolution provides businesses with the opportunity to leverage chatbots in an effort to both improve customer experience as well as to have stronger insight into the modern consumer with more available data. Embrace chatbots — they could be the key to elevating your marketing efforts.