Chatbot is defined as a computer program that is designed to simulate conversation with human users, mostly used over the internet. If you’ve ever asked Apple’s Siri or Android’s Cortana a question you have used a chatbot. The conversation can be text based or spoken conversation. When used properly, the dialogue is so natural that it’s just like speaking to another human. This tool offers exciting opportunities for marketers to engage with consumers and close the sale. Here are five things you should know:
- Personalized Conversation. This Forbes article describes that chatbots can be programmed to pull known data about the customer to address them by name or suggest products based on purchasing history. A perfect example of this is the Amazon Echo chatbot named Alexa. This product responds to voice commands for weather updates, shopping lists, playing music and much more. This Amazon Echo commercial illustrates the functionality well.
- Facebook Messenger. Earlier this year, Facebook Messenger began offering the chatbot platform. Mark Zuckerburg described that he wants consumers “to be able to message a business in the same way you message a friend.” Some say this tool has the potential to be the primary way customers communicate with brands. This article shows an example of how Healthtap provides physician-provided answers to health related questions.
- Conversational Commerce. There are fashion brands that are using this technology to offer a concierge-like shopping experience. This article explains that the bot will ask questions like “What are you shopping for today?” and “What is your price range?” to make shopping recommendations. After the purchase, the bot can send receipts, shipping, and tracking information. This concept is working for high-end brands like Balenciaga, Givenchy, and Lanvin that don’t have ecommerce platforms. In another recent article, Pizza Hut announced plans to start accepting orders through chatbot messaging as well.
- Pro-Active Conversation. Foursquare now offers an app called Marsbot. In this article, Marissa Chacko from Foursquare said the idea was to “create a product that tells you where to eat or drink before you think to ask for it.” The app description says that Marsbot pays attention to your habits and places you go in order to send suggestions in a text format.
- Brand Bot. Microsoft launched Tay as an extension of their brand to speak to teens and young adults on Twitter. However, Tay’s first day online created a PR nightmare when she started tweeting racist, profane, and inappropriate information. According to Wikipedia, Tay’s design was vulnerable to this because it was mimicking the offensive behavior of other Twitter users. Microsoft immediately shut down Tay and released this apology. The lesson here is that a brand bot can be detrimental to the brand if doesn’t stay in line with the brand’s voice and tone.
Chatbots are already proving to be an effective tool in engaging customers on a highly personalized level. It will be interesting to watch how marketers find new ways to use this technology to maintain and enhance their brands while improving their bottom lines.