We’re in the midst of a once-in-a-decade paradigm shift. Messaging is the new platform, and bots are the new apps. The shift radically changes end-user experiences and inevitably will change business models and how brands interact with customers.
It is still early days in the chatbot ecosystem, but brands are already aboard the chatbot bandwagon to improve their marketing efforts. These brands are already seeing a spike in customer engagement and satisfaction. Chatbots will grow to transform brand marketing.
The medium is the message
Chatbots are getting popular because messaging apps are ubiquitous. A cursory glance at the top charts in the App Store or the Play Store will tell you that messaging apps are by far the most popular and that conversation is the preferred medium for smartphone users today. Brands and companies need to be present where their customers are. Hence, brands need to leverage chatbots. Brands will have to discover, and execute on, ways to engage users in a meaningful conversation rather than just serve up banners or video spots.
The era of personalization
Bots allow brands to personalize their marketing. Each message is sent to one unique individual; each customer interaction can be customized to that person. Now brands will acquire the ability to tailor the service to each customer. This will require you to capture context, build user profiles and maintain history. The user should be able to order pizza — or just about anything else — by saying “usual” soon after the user has some history with the brand.
Rules of engagement
Messaging apps are a terrific medium for engagement. They are instant and users tend to be more responsive with messaging than with other media. Also, users tend to use messaging apps dozens of times each day. The brands that enact a smart plan will see much higher frequency and intensity of engagement than with other apps.
With this in mind, what are some of the use cases that brand bots can enable? Here are a few suggestions:
Customer service in its current form is a mess. Consumers frequently take to social media to voice their frustration with customer service issues. Till now companies persisted with the current system thanks to a lack of a better alternative. But chatbots can disrupt this space.
Brand bots should handle complaints and issues from existing customers. By programming answers to commonly asked questions and also automating service responses, chatbots can be the new standard medium on which customer service operates. A bot that sells but does not support will disappoint customers quickly. A bot that says “Sorry, not my department” will make a poor impression. Bots enable brands to reduce or eliminate phone hold time for customers.
Brand bots can help users find the right product from the brand’s portfolio. For instance, cosmetics giant Sephora launched a bot that helps users find the right beauty product from its extensive list of SKUs. Your bot, like Sephora’s, needs to be able to query user requirements and suggest the best matching product for that user — plus provide the option to get detailed product information.
This bot is like the neighborhood bookseller — friendly advisors, on whose advice customers rely to buy the perfect book. For brands, this can be a great opportunity to upsell and cross-sell products (within reason).
Brand bots should provide personalized responses in all interactions, whether it is product recommendations, support, or offers. They must maintain user context and history as well as build inferences. While customer support agents, websites, and apps could get away with being somewhat impersonal, bots today need to be intensely personal. The reason is that bot conversations happen in the context of a messaging app where every other conversation (with family, friends etc.) is just that — personal. Users will be unforgiving of impersonal bots.
This one is self-explanatory. Chatbots for certain services – Hailing a cab, ordering pizza or checking your bank balance, will soon be ubiquitous. Messaging presents a new channel for brands. Chatbots can monitor consumer purchasing patterns and can respond to natural language. As opposed to apps or websites, chatbots will be intuitive and anticipate the user’s needs maybe even before the user can do so.
Brands can also use chatbots to collect feedback and present surveys to users. They can inform users of deals and discounts on a medium where the user is most likely to see, and engage with it.
The bot is the brand
Very soon, your bot will become the primary interface for your brand. Users will visit your bot more than they will visit your website, app, or offline store. This will be true before, during, and after the sale. Your users will interact with your bot more than they will notice your ads.
In fact, the way to interact with your product may itself be through the bot (e.g., message or talk to the bot to switch on the music or play a specific song). In this cool new era, the bot becomes the product; the bot becomes the brand. Brands slow to jump on to the new medium will get disrupted. The risk of doing nothing is far greater than the risk of doing something now.
(Disclaimer: This is a guest post submitted on Techstory by the mentioned authors. All the contents and images in the article have been provided to Techstory by the authors of the article. Techstory is not responsible or liable for any content in this article.)
Feature Image Source: twitter
About The Author:
Beerud Sheth, a serial tech entrepreneur and investor who like creating and investing in innovative products that engage millions of users.
Beerud is responsible for the overall strategy, execution and growth of Gupshup. He also founded Elance, the world‘s largest online services marketplace and has also played various leadership roles at different stages of the company’s growth.