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Craving for the Pizza? You can order a Dominos over the Facebook messenger. Dominos chatbot will help you with choosing the toppings as well. Having a difficult time planning your vacation? A chat with Taylor will help you plan the trip discussing cities you want to visit, places to sleep and even work if you are a digital nomad. Wanting to pick up new language skills? Duolingo new chatbot will help you with picking up new conversation skills and foreign languages. Combine artificial intelligence with data driven customer service – the possibilities are limitless.
What is a Chatbot?
Chatbot short for chatter robot is a program or an application that mimics human conversation and role plays as a representative of the company.
Microsoft’s CEO, Satya Nadella thinks that chatbot is a simple concept but with a very powerful impact and will be the next big thing in enhancing customer experiences. Microsoft’s vision of ‘conversation as a platform’ holds a potential to create a user interface that eliminates the use of mouse or keyboard to achieve your task.
Imagine talking naturally with your computer to get it to open up a travel site for you and then proceeding to plan the trip and book your tickets, all this without leaving the window or touching your keypad. While talking bot concept is still in its infancy, messaging chatbots currently hold the title of ‘the next big thing’ in enhancing customer experience.
According to The Economist, chatbots are the next frontier riding with over 2.5 billion people using at least one messaging app. Long phone calls are now being replaced by quick messaging, with increasing number of people turning to messaging apps. Brands have picked up on this trend and having realized that this is the best medium to reach out to their customer base, are pouring millions to develop chatbots.
A new term ‘conversational commerce’ is making headlines. Google I/O conference focused on a mix of virtual assistants, artificial intelligence and messaging platforms for successful chatbot implementation in enhancing the customer experience. Facebook announced opening doors to commercial messaging platform by developing tools that enable brands to customize their customer service interaction. It’s important to keep in mind that a simple yet direct strategy combined with context can have a much larger impact on consumer interaction.
Medium drives the message home
Brands should recognize the elements of successful customer engagement using messaging. Messaging apps need to be optimized for mobiles. Optimizing the website and including resizable images to suit the smartphones is of essence. Interface design, ease of navigation, interaction in form of swiping and typing, and other brand content should be developed and designed keeping the consumer at the forefront. The application should be programmed such that it’s capable of providing service without having to leave the chatbot.
Generally, chatbots serve the customer in part by providing initial information via messaging and then directing the customer to the store to finalize the purchase of service or product in question. Then the customer is directed to the payment gateway to complete the financial transaction. This involves a lot of waiting period and a lot of navigating. To make the experience more engaging and less time consuming, the customers should be able to complete the transaction in the chatbot conversation window itself.
Play by the rules
Conversational commerce demands following certain compliance standards, similar to any other messaging environment. Email marketing requires customer opt-ins. Text messaging is governed by Telephone Consumer Protection Act. Customer approval is a must for any messaging engagement. Failure to follow compliance requirements may lead to fines or loss of customer base. Failure to play by the rules can harm your brand image and may land you with dis-satisfied customers.
Personalize the chatbot experience
Personalizing the experience for the individual customer is important for relevant and fruitful engagement, and should go beyond addressing using the first name. Chatbots should be able to retrieve customer data from various databases and compile it into tailor-made customer profile to provide best service based on location and shopping habits.
Customer is the king
Compliance restrictions mean that the customer should initiate contact. Hence brands need to identify the trigger points to introduce itself to its customer base. After the initial contact the engagement should be relevant and interesting enough for the customer to keep coming back for more. Predict the needs of customers and shape the interactions based on customer needs to serve them better every time they use the chatbot application. Be sensitive to customer needs and responsive to their requirement to keep them hooked to your service. Relevant engagement on part of the brand helps build and enhance a meaningful relationship with the customers.
Problem solving and customer service
Effective problem solving capability is the requirement of the hour. Chatbots can mimic humans to effectively solve customer problems. Being available 24/7 to handle customer service is a huge plus. Chatbots make this happen as they can be deployed to man live customer service chats. The waiting period is cut down for customers as they are immediately taken care of by chatbots. And chatbots also can attend to multiple customers at the same time without compromising on quality of service received by individual customer.
Chatbots as personal assistants
Chatbots can provide personalized service by acting as personal assistants. They can book a flight for you or make hotel reservations. Order food as per your taste, serve news bytes and provide information relevant to your location. Hold your hand and walk you through any process that requires their help. Take care of your knowledge and entertainment needs such as looking for best deals on books or looking up a movie review.
Success measurement to improve and deliver the best
Measuring volume of customer engagement and the service quality that chatbots bring into their routine lives is a must to keep improving on service and innovating to address the every growing customer needs and expectations.
Brands are competing with each other to be the first to dish out and perfect the chatbot functionalities. With limitless possibilities chatbots are the next big thing in enhancing customer experience. If you’re already using chatbots to leverage your customer experiences, share your thoughts with us.
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