Why Chatbots are the future of retail and marketing
Increased customer engagement through personalization
As per Gartner projections by 2020, more than 85% of customer interactions will be managed without any human interaction. Owing to their ability to gather significant amounts of data about a user, chatbots offer an increased quotient of interactivity, leading to a more personalized service. Leveraging the power of such data, chatbots understand customer preferences as case sensitive inputs to provide appropriate responses to customers. Chatbots seek to provide recommendations and help make the best out of customer preferences. Renowned beauty retailer Sephora has devised its own bot Kik that serves up personalized makeup tips and product information replete with how-to-videos to users by urging them to take a quick quiz on their personal preferences.
Seamless customer service
Precluding the need to use human workforce, chatbots are revolutionizing the way retailers address common customer issues. Be it help on finding the nearest store or returning a particular product, chatbots function as context-sensitive guides for customers to have a satisfied customer experience. Tommy Hilfiger, an American apparel and accessories brand, has integrated chatbots into its messenger app to deal with customer inquiries. Equipped with precise language processing abilities, the bot is an extended functionality of the messenger and seeks to resolve customer issues, besides assisting them as a friendly shopping companion.
The chatbots from Tommy Hilfiger demonstrate how chatbots will dynamically convert the process of e-commerce customer service into a more interactive yet purposeful one with their great skills in contextual understanding. Also, these chatbots are particularly helpful in keeping customers engaged, thereby leading to more conversions.
Value added services
Apart from the fun and interactivity dimension that chatbots bring in, there is also another useful function they seek to serve. Working as a good resource pool, they aim at feeding customers with actionable information in sectors ranging from healthcare to social awareness. By integrating with Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, Capital One has built a gender-neutral bot named Eno for all practical purposed of keeping consumers aware of all the latest information in the banking industry.
Brand building and increased brand equity
In the age of voice tech and artificial intelligence, the role of human interaction has increased significantly. In order to stay up and ahead on the technological curve, it is important for businesses to understand how bots can offer unique experiences for customers through a conversational UI. Fast-food retailer Taco Bell has with its messaging platform an integrated bot that seeks to deliver a consistent brand experience to users every time. By positioning themselves as a quirky, fun brand in the food retail industry, Taco Bell, through the functionality of a bot, identifies itself with consumers through its on-the-go service. Through carefully crafted replies and relevant conversation flows, the chatbot seeks to set the tone of the brand by being the go–to guide for answering specific questions.
Guided product discovery
By sieving through a whole catalog of products, chatbots go a step further than being a personal assistant. They create a conversational funnel based on simple inputs from the user. Customers like the idea of being able to filter down their preferences within a collection, and this feature of chatbots captures a consumer’s specific interest in that collection and contains the experience within the most relevant products.
The future of chatbots in retail
Voice-driven and chat-driven interfaces are therefore the future of retail consumer experiences. Sophistication in these areas is the way forward. Bot implementation for retailers is seeking to make the entire customer experience seamless and relatable. Equipped with qualities ranging from intelligence to empathy, bots are here to stay in the retail industry. What is left to be seen is how it matches the same experience of an in-store purchase. Retailers will want to use bots to guide customers, such as those searching for gift ideas. Brands can also gain from bots by offering storytelling, product exploration, and other such marketing functions.
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About the Author
S. Karthikeyan, or SK as he is better known, has 19 years of experience in designing, leading and delivering world-class software solutions. His specialties include Product Ideation, Innovation & Strategy, Enterprise & Solution Consulting, Data Science Solutions, and Digital Transformation. As Chief Innovation Officer, SK ensures that experimentation and innovation continues unfettered at Suyati Technologies. He leads the Mekanate team that is developing a Digital Transformation platform using AI, ML, IoT and Big Data technologies. He holds a Masters Degree in Computer Application, and Advanced Certificate in Information Technology Management from IIM, Kozhikode. The opportunity to build technically complex solutions is what runs through his mind all day, and probably keeps him awake at night! Connect with him on LinkedIn.