Chatbots are becoming ubiquitous. Chances are when you are seeking customer support online you are interacting with a bot rather than a human agent. They are increasingly reliable, and they don’t have the human frailties of needing a break, falling ill, or forgetting key information! During the F8 summit in 2016, Mark Zuckerberg announced having his Facebook to integrate Chatbot Technology into Facebook Messenger. He explained his desire for the consumer to “be able to message a business in the same way you message a friend”; he proposed a new step forward for conversational commerce. But hold there for a moment. What exactly are chatbots anyway? With brands like Uber, Grab, Alibaba, Amazon, Google, Starbucks, Marriotts Group, UOB and Great Eastern, etc already getting in on the act to develop products such as chatbots and phone messaging apps, why does it spell such big news for business productivity?
Chatbot in its basics
Chatbot technology is certainly not a new concept. It has been around since the 1950s, and artificial intelligence or ‘AI’ programs have been around for decades. With the likes of Siri for iPhone, Cortana for Microsoft, Amazon Echo, OK Google or Hi Google, Bixby by Samsung we’re all fairly comfortable with the concept of digital assistants. The difference with chatbots is that they are specifically designed to replicate human interaction. Essentially a mini interface within a messaging app, the idea is that the user is able to interact with a chatbot just as they would any other contact in the phone, notebook, and business webpages. Instead of a one-sided question and answer format, increased intelligence allows the chatbot to change the subject, suggest related topics, and even demonstrate humour and emotion. Whether it is a customer enquiry about delivery and returns, or a more specific service like ordering food, shopping and or servicing bank/insurance customers, the user will essentially feel like they are talking to a human being rather than a faceless brand.
Benefits for the consumer
Since 2014, Facebook Messenger has grown from 200m monthly users to a whopping 2.25 billion monthly active users in 2018. This statistic shows how much messaging apps have exploded in popularity, and also highlights a major shift in where people spend their time. Easy to use, convenient and user-friendly – messaging apps are no longer part of social media websites, but separate entities altogether. As a result, companies (brands) have now realised the great potential of using chatbots and phone app messaging platforms to engage with and connect with audiences. Combined with the consumer’s growing desire for instant and one-on-one contact, chatbots look set to take businesses to a higher level of interactive communication platform as chatbots are always ready to communicate with customers 24/7. Instead of being put on hold or waiting on a website chat service, a chatbot will provide an instantaneous response. Consequently, one of the biggest benefits for the consumer is simply a much better overall experience. As well as greater communication, Chatbots living in our most-used platforms, it automatically offers a far more seamless and personalised experience. Companies that use specific and increasingly personalised data to interact with the consumer, chatbots aim to create a bond that most companies can only achieve after years of loyalty with their customers.
Benefits for brands
Where companies might have struggled to entice a customer or audience to download and use a separate app, consumers are far likelier to use a chatbot service that’s part of the webpage or a mobile app they already use (e.g. Facebook Messenger). As a result, the marketers’ job will become far easier and be productive. Alongside capitalising on time customers now spend on apps, the benefits also include much greater control. With brands struggling to keep up with a multitude of platforms, chatbots will enable a more streamlined approach as well as access to increased amount of data. All in all, chatbots are finally starting to win businesses over and according to an Oracle survey, 80% of businesses want chatbots by 2020.
Where Chatbots are winning?
The digital marketing space has begun using chatbots in a number of ways that are quickly adding dollars to their bottom line. From sales, billing and customer support, chatbots aims to solve a number of issues in business processes in diverse industries such as banking, healthcare, e-commerce, media, education, entertainment, and insurance.
Chatbots are powered by Artificial Intelligence through predetermined rules or programs that are designed to automate specific tasks or perform actions by chatting with a user. It helps to analyse complex inquiries, create customised responses, and enhance interactions in the future. This is the future of Chatbot for Digital Marketing! Some of the successful chatbots that are making waves:
1. Baidu’s Melody in 2016 launched Melody, an AI-powered chatbot assistant that chats with people by assisting them with healthcare treatment and providing doctors with important patient data. It is designed to create a highly personalised doctor-patient interaction.
1. Starbucks uses text messaging or voice command chatbots where customers can find it easy when ordering their favourite beverage and snacks at Starbucks. These chatbots are inside the Starbucks app available on Andriod, iOS and Windows devices such as PCs, notebooks, Microsoft surface, etc.
1. Poncho is a “cat’ chatbot that delivers daily, personalised weather alerts on popular chat apps like Facebook Messenger, Kik, and Viber. With its vibrant and colourful interface, it makes weather forecasting more intuitive and less boring.
Chatbots for Digital Marketing
Living in a hyper-paced world of ever-changing technologies consumer’s needs grow whilst their attention and patience shorten, People want effective solutions and services right at their doorstep in a matter of minutes. Businesses looking to widen your audience reach, you’re seriously missing out a lot if you are not leveraging on chatbots. According to a report from eMarketer by end of 2017, around 1.82 billion active users worldwide will regularly use messaging apps with a 15.5% increase in usage.
To increase productivity and offer instant services companies can employ additional manpower or leverage on technology using chatbots. Companies are turning to bots due to their 24/7 availability, efficiency at handling repetitive tasks and ability to cut down steps in operation processes. So, this comes as no surprise why more brands are now taking advantage of A.I. chatbots to engage with their customers.