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Part 2: With AI Chatbots, Commerce is Conversational (Again!)

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Last week, we discussed how chatbots are revolutionizing the digital experience with Rebecca Clyde, Co-Founder of Botco.aiand digital agency Ideas Collide. I’m excited to share more from our conversation, including the role they play in the customer experience and what the future could bring for this fascinating technology.

1.  How have chatbots become a valuable channel for the digital customer experience?
At a minimum, this channel is about helping customers get what they want faster, and giving them a sense that they are heard and understood. When brands utilize conversation to engage with their customers, and do so in a way that is personalized at scale, they can start to see big results. Tata recently reported that when it deployed its first chatbot, lead conversion rates increased by 600%. Many customers fall through the cracks because we make them do the work: they have to search around our websites to figure out what we do, to find out about our products and then decide if they have enough information to move forward. With this new channel, we turn that model around and use AI to assess intent and more quickly deliver what the customer needs help with.

2.  What role will chatbots play in the future of social?
Every brand will eventually find it essential to maintain a strong messaging presence that allows your audience to interact with you directly. If you are on Facebook already, then a Messenger bot makes the most sense to start with. Our customers with a strong presence in China are stepping up their game on WeChat with chatbots. In B2B, we are also seeing strong use cases for chatbots on Slack to engage buying teams or help drive sales engagements.

Conversational marketing allows for many exciting possibilities to drive engagement, conversion and ultimately, to generate brand advocates. It’s also an excellent way to generate micro-moments with customers, to reward your most loyal customers and also to help those prospective customers more easily find the answers they need to make a decision.

To create these micromoments, we are using social listening (in our case, Oracle Social Cloud), to listen to what customers are needing and creating conversational interactions that address those needs. This capability needs to be part of any informed content development effort.

3.  Given your experience, how do customers feel about interacting with a chatbot?
They are rather intuitive and when they work, they can be deeply engaging. I have watched my first grade engage with chatbots without needing any explanation – and she has a very early reading level! Her favorite bot is Marfa, she is a “Best Friend Bot” that is a chatty friend. However, there are more serious, helpful bots that do important work. For example, I happen to use Healthap a lot, which curates healthcare advise from MDs that specifically address my particular questions. Another great bot I use almost daily is GrowthBot, which gives me great insights into marketing technologies being used by whom and where. It’s a great research tool for selling. For Botco.ai, we are helping each of our customers develop use cases that either fill in a specific gap in their customer experience, or that might augment or improve on something the currently exists. One of our customers is building a bot to recognize and reward its most elite partners, providing them with additional perks only available on Messenger. They are giving those elite partners the fastest possible access to rewards program information and inside tips on how to get more out of their membership.

4.  What can you tell the brands out there that are hesitant to invest in chatbots? 
I really believe the time will come (very soon!) when our customers won’t come to our websites anymore…that trend is already underway. Instead, they will jump onto their favorite messaging channel and simply ask for what they need. Now is the time build up our knowledge bases to help train intelligent AI chatbots that will deliver meaningful, engaging conversation with each of our customers. Those brands that are ahead of the curve and start early will be on their way to delivering a truly engaging experience that accelerates business outcomes.

Posted on October 10, 2017 in Digital Marketing Recommendations, Observations & Trends

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