Financial Data
Updated 17 Oct 2017


Are chatbots the future of your customer integration plans?

Putting your customers on hold may have worked in the past, but today’s consumers know better, so you have to do better – enter the chatbot. 


Diana Albertyn, 10 August 2017  Share  0 comments  Print


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The first computer chatbot, Eliza, may have been written between 1964 and 1966, but intelligent automation has only recently gained mainstream popularity. Locally, Discovery Health and Mercedes Benz are just some of early adopters of the technology through New York-based enterprise mobile messaging company Pypestream, and Facebook’s recently launched business functionality-enabled Messenger Chatbot.

“There are nearly four billion global active users of messaging apps and the top five most frequently used apps in the world are all messaging apps,” says Darryl Marcus, GM of Pypestream. Despite the extensiveness of your contact centre, direct engagement between customer service agents and customers costs you both time and money. Is it time for you to cash in on consumers’ obsession with chat as it continues to explode? 

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TAKE NOTE

Businesses have to be where customers are, and that’s less inside mobile apps, and more so in messaging platforms. These savvy customers expect seamless, real-time, customised responses to their questions or to find products they’re looking for. Bots that are integrated into messaging platforms are an easy, cost-effective solution. 


So what are chatbots and is this technology right for your business? Consider the evolving world of bots and decide if your business needs to develop this concept.

Why are chatbots an option?

Chatbots

You first have to ask yourself how a bot will improve the customer experience you offer in an era where consumers can search for whatever they need just by using their smartphone. “How will a bot provide next-level service for users?” asks Upwork’s Carey Wodehouse. “By pairing the two best aspects of bots: Engagement and Automation.”

She suggests that a bot should form part of your overall customer engagement strategy or part of a single marketing campaign to support that strategy – like a bot that helps customers find the right running shoes, which happens to coincide with that company’s launch of a new shoe design.

Weighing up the benefits for your business 

The best way to engage current and prospective customers is to be where they are. Introducing bots to your business increases connectivity with consumers, but you first need to look at what you already have. Your own apps. Are customers still downloading your app or have they moved to Facebook Messenger, for example? 

“It (Messenger) allows brands to provide a natural language interface with consumers at scale,” explains Marcus, so Facebook is winning this one. The customised touchpoint created between the brand and its users drives brand interaction with current and prospective customers, which is why many companies are looking to develop Messenger bots. But, before you jump on the bandwagon, an important question to ask is whether bots are really adding value or if they’re more of a deterrent, says Wodehouse.

“Do customers like the convenience of bots, or are we just adding more noise to an already highly connected world?” 

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How bots will be of value to your customers

Bots may increase connectivity, responsiveness and customer service in general, but does all of that trump human interaction? They have to be conversational, which requires extensive programming and access to a lot of data.

“In this respect, the simpler and more focused a bot is, the better,” explains Wodehouse. “With fewer questions to answer or pre-determined responses, the bot has fewer chances for error and narrowing the data you’ll need to provide the right answers.”

The best bot for both you and your customers is the simple bot. As you weigh up your options, consider how you’re engaging your customers over the actual bot. it is amazing technology, but a work in progress.


CONSIDER THIS

  • A bot will be a voice for your brand, but it can’t be monitored at all times.
  • Your users may get discouraged by a bot that can’t answer their questions, gets confused, or is slow to respond.
  • Build your bot so a human customer service agent can jump in and take over if the bot is struggling.
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About the author


Diana Albertyn


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