Automating Your Customer Interactions: Get Ready for Chatbots

Today’s markets are more conversational than ever, especially as more and more companies create chatbots for messaging apps. Since the chatbot lives on Facebook Messenger, customers don’t need to download and get familiar with a separate app as long as they have the Facebook app. KLM chatbot on the Facebook Messenger app Chatbots allow you to be where your customers already are: messaging apps. Risks, concerns, failures – and the need for policies While organizations are experimenting with chatbots, they should avoid over-governing the process. Risks are best addressed with policies adopted by the organization to inform decisions made by marketers regarding online content and technologies. For organizations already managing their digital assets in a mature manner, the introduction of chatbots may simply call for a meeting with the legal or compliance department to review and extend existing policies. If you have no policies on which to base new conversational-commerce policies, start by addressing these questions: Accountability: Who within the organization is accountable for chatbot assets? Education: Where can people in your organization find these policies so that they can follow them? How might your company engage people in this new automated way? What simple, low-risk use cases might you experiment with?

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This piece was co-written by Kristi Colleran, co-founder and
chief customer and product officer at
Sciens.io.

“Markets are conversations,” the Cluetrain Manifesto said in 1999.
Today’s markets are more conversational than ever, especially as
more and more companies create chatbots for messaging apps.
Chatbots (details below) enable us as marketers to do something
that we’ve only ever been able to dream of doing: personalize
content delivery and have meaningful conversations with customers
at scale.

The potential benefits are clear:

  • More cost-effective customer service
  • Faster response times
  • Easier business transactions
  • More convenient ways to address prospects and customers in
    their preferred medium

The potential pitfalls are also clear:

One misstep and the public at large may not forget.

Read on to learn more about what these chatbots are, how they’re
changing the conversation between companies and their customers,
and the opportunities (and risks) they represent for marketers.

Messaging on the rise

Before we get to chatbots, let’s take a look at messaging in
general. Far from the simple text-messaging programs of the 1990s
(like AOL Instant Messenger and Yahoo! Messenger), today’s
messaging apps are part of larger “commerce, customer support, and
advertising ecosystems,” as described by Erik Devaney in this Drift
article
.

In the last two years, while marketers have focused on
establishing a presence on social networks (primarily Facebook,
Twitter, Pinterest, and
Instagram
), the total number of active monthly users of
messaging apps (primarily WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, WeChat, and
Kik) has surpassed those social networks.

business-insider-graph

The exploding popularity of messaging creates an opportunity for
companies to connect with their customers like never before in a
way that is contextual, relevant, personal, and conversational.
That’s where chatbots come in.

What is a chatbot?

A chatbot is software that automates the task of talking with
people, especially over the internet. In much the same way that
software programs (Microsoft Word, Excel, and so on) live on your
laptop and that apps (Instagram, Pokemon Go, and so on) live on
your smartphone, chatbots live on messaging apps. For example,
chatbots might live on Facebook Messenger, SMS, Kik, or WeChat.

The best way to understand what chatbots are is to see one in
action. Let’s take a look at the chatbot that KLM Royal Dutch
Airlines‎ recently introduced for Facebook Messenger. With the
customer’s permission, the KLM chatbot automatically “texts” the
itinerary, boarding passes, check-in confirmation, and delay
notifications. It even connects the traveler with a human staff
member if questions arise that the chatbot can’t answer.

Since the chatbot lives on Facebook Messenger, customers don’t
need to download and get familiar with a separate app as long as
they have the Facebook app.

KLM chatbot on the Facebook Messenger app

Chatbots allow you to be where your customers already are:
messaging apps.

Chatbots combine the ease of texting with the intelligence of
embedded software programs to carry out any number of tasks, from
automating subscription content (like weather and traffic updates)
to customizing communications (like receipts, shipping
notifications, and live automated messages).

These are just a few use cases. Chatbots open new opportunities
to engage your customers with content – at scale.

Examples of chatbots

Here are some examples of companies that are using chatbots in
various industries:

  • Travel
    KLM
    , Kayak, and

    Hyatt
    help people book trips, deliver their boarding passes,
    and provide concierge services.
tacobot_preview
  • GroceryWhole
    Foods
    helps people find recipes and suggests food products
    based on the…

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