If you are over 40, you probably remember a time when business was entirely conversational. In the “olden days” before 1994, businesses interacted with customers almost entirely through in-person meetings or over the phone. There was no website or app to send people to. Business was entirely conversational. Fast forward to 2017 and today we can conduct business almost entirely without ever speaking to another human being.
However, as humans, we are wired for conversation. As efficient as it may seem to always turn to an app or a website to get stuff done, we crave connection and seek conversation with others. Our brains are simply wired that way. This is why we love answering text messages and interacting with messaging apps of all kinds. WeChat, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat – collectively more than 3B users are actively engaged in a messaging application at this very moment.
As businesses, we should be paying attention to this trend. But before jumping into the messaging fray and deploying a chatbot, first look closely at your business and ask yourself and your team two questions: Where can the customer experience be improved with an AI chatbot? What gaps exist in your customer experience that could be addressed with a chatbot to generate a better outcome?
In many organizations, I am seeing these questions answered with the following use cases:
#1) B2B Lead Nurturing. If your business running Eloqua or Marketo, chances are, you have several lead nurturing campaigns that can be easily converted in to conversational interactions through a messaging channel. You can use messaging (in addition to or in lieu of email) to advance your audience through the buyer journey. You will be able to see more quickly who is engaged, consuming assets or asking questions. Today, if you respond to a marketing email, chances are that it goes into an un-manned inbox. By enabling a chatbot you can answer every question immediately.
#2) Form Replacement. Rather than asking your customers to fill out long forms, a chatbot can accomplish this task much faster and with lower friction. Plus, by using profile APIs, you can completely eliminate the need to ask for contact information on forms. Your customers can also pickup right where they left off if they get interrupted, unlike web forms that tend to get abandoned and never completed.
#3) Product Introductions or Software Releases. Instead of over-relying on emails to notify customers of product releases, consider using a chatbot that helps the users understand all the aspects of a new version (2.0 for example) and walks them through the features and capabilities of the new/updated product. The chatbot can also be designed to answer user questions and escalate issues to a support person in a timely fashion.
#4) Event Follow Up. With huge investments being made in tradeshows and conferences, a knowledge-base driven chatbot can assist organizations with following up post-event with content or action items to keep the conversation going and nurture event attendees.
#5) Channel Programs. Companies that utilize a VAR or distribution channel often struggle to maintain close contact with their channel partners, yet depend on them heavily to drive large percentages of their revenue. These enterprises can utilize a chatbot that has a domain-specific knowledge base capable of interacting with channel partners to train them on the latest products, pricing, incentives and other programs.
The key to make these use cases work is the development of a rich knowledge base that your chatbot can reference to generate truly meaningful interactions. A “rules-based” bot is a place to start, but it will quickly fall apart without a rich knowledge base to inform it.