Artificial Intelligence (AI) is increasingly becoming part of our daily routines. The more we interact with Alexa and Siri, the more comfortable we are inviting these technologies into our homes and lives. There’s even a chatbot now to help people suffering from depression or anxiety. Even though these smart machines lack true feelings such as sadness, love, and happiness, we’ve grown accustomed to interacting with them. In fact, if you have recently contacted customer service via a text chat, there’s a good chance you were speaking with a chatbot. But this is really just the tip of the iceberg.
Patience is a virtue, but in today’s consumer obsessed world, we know all too well that most of us don’t have patience. We want it now! Companies have taken notice and are using chatbots to connect with consumers, increase sales, and improve their operations. In fact, brands like Sephora, Amazon, Starbucks and Whole Foods have all incorporated bots into their customer experience strategies over the past year. And it makes good sense. Consumers communicate with family, friends and colleagues across multiple channels including messaging platforms. So why wouldn’t they want to use the same applications to talk with a retail brand, bank, or healthcare provider? Chatbots allow brands to provide automated suggestions based on specific requests, and they can be extremely useful for providing product or service recommendations. Chatbots are also instantly ready to assist and resolve customer inquiries – and they don’t take coffee breaks.
Brands are beginning to use a wide variety of bots based on situational need to bring value to each customer interaction. For example, the most commonly used is the rule-based bot that is preprogrammed to look for trigger words or phrases in conversations. This type of bot is not designed to understand everything a consumer says. Instead, it maintains a yes/no logic programming. You interact with such programming via virtual assistants and your messaging applications today.
Brands area also embracing messaging apps, which go beyond the general use of text. These apps include emojis, GIFS, video, and photo images right at our finger tips. Taking it a step further, some apps have incorporated photo filters and lenses to give users an enhanced experience while chatting. No wonder people are quickly adapting to this trend. Not to mention, messaging apps are generally user friendly and require little practice to become an expert. Consumers don’t have time to train themselves on apps that take a lot of effort. They just want their concerns and questions addressed in a timely manner.
Facebook and WhatsAPP report more than 2.8 billion messaging users between the two applications. Brands will continue to use these tools to further the customer experience, introducing scenarios we never thought possible. In a recent report by twilio, 85% of consumers want to receive information and be able to reply to businesses through messaging. This includes information like receiving appointment reminders, providing product feedback, receiving a check delivery status, and receiving coupons or promotional offers. Consumers want brands to understand them and to know how and when to engage using a bot. The future is here, and there’s no denying the endless opportunities that chatbots can bring.
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