Last year bots began making their appearance across many digital marketers’ strategic plans. In 2018, digital marketers are starting to seriously enact those plans as they leverage artificial intelligence’s powers in increasingly innovative ways across industries. Government agencies, financial institutions and healthcare providers are beginning to see that chatbots increase customer engagement, something that online retailers have understood for the past several years.
For non-retail industries, promoting customer contact is a seismic change. Historically, businesses prefer to avoid customer contact because ongoing customer contact is costly. Rarely do organizations place customer contact centers as a high budget priority. This practice has led to very few bot innovations on the customer contact front, despite its success on the marketing side of the house. However, a full embrace of chatbots throughout the customer journey will improve marketing efforts and customer satisfaction.
Bots derive their power from data. The more data an organization collects on customer behavior, the greater degree of personalization and optimum customer experience that business will be able to provide. Introducing bots into the contact center allows the technology to collect data, not just on purchasing or complaint patterns, but on linguistic exchange and dialogue. This information can improve bots’ overall performance regardless of where in the customer journey the bot is introduced.
Users are already accustomed to text messaging. Offering a chatbot option via a search engine will eliminate communication obstacles and will directly link customers, or potential customers, to the business with a simple tap. Rudimentary questions like “what sizes do you carry?” or “Does your business insurance work in New Jersey?” can be answered easily through bots. There is already a name for this type of marketing and selling: Conversational Commerce. It is anticipated that businesses will turn to this form of marketing throughout 2018, making it a competitive advantage.
Improvements to bot interfaces and user experience designs will likely increase adoption rates by consumers and businesses alike. Tobias Goebel writes in Business 2 Community that businesses interested in bots should “start small.” Adopting internal bots before introducing customer-facing versions will help iron out any wrinkles. This practice can also assist in breaking down silos between departments and integrating services, something that will be essential for smooth communication with customers, whether for marketing promotions or for customer assistance.