Chatbots Are the Next Big Platform. Here's How Entrepreneurs Can Stay on Top of It
Bots seem like a dream come true, but don't underestimate what will be required to make the transition.
Regardless of the situation, it’s human nature to be seeking out the next big thing. That is how we keep evolving as a species. We've even evolved in how we stay connected with each other from mail to telephones to computers. This shift in how we stay connected took a fascinating turn with the widespread adoption of the internet and artificial intelligence.
In business, connectedness is everything. It is the basis for how sales are made, customers are satisfied, and how brands develop.
In 2017, chatbots are poised to be the next big platform that connects people to businesses. A recent survey conducted by Oracle found that 80 percent of senior marketing and sales professionals expect to be using chatbots for customer interactions by 2020.
As wonderful as it sounds, implementing this channel into a business model is not apples to apples. That being said, let’s talk about how entrepreneurs can craft their approach to successfully navigate this connectivity trend, as well as the ones in the future.
Understand the customer journey.
Implementing chatbots -- or any customer touchpoint -- is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Every organization has a unique set of customers and discourse between parties. As effective as chatbots may be in terms of cost and interactions, they must be programmed in accordance with the customer journey.
For this to work, managers need to have an cognitive, data-backed understanding of the journey from A to Z. Even more, managers need to know the exact points for when and why customers reach out to the business. For instance, what are the types of content you produce that are meant to prompt interactions? What are the customers looking for?
This concept is nothing new. Knowing the finer details of the customer journey is the foundation for success in any capacity. As AI is taking a larger role in business operations, it’s not just about understanding it, it’s about having the accurate foresight and experience to program the robots to understand.
Design for customer success.
Once you’ve pinpointed the areas in the customer journey where chatbots can be put to the best use, you need to grasp how they can advance customers down the sales funnel. Often times, this is the most difficult piece of the puzzle when incorporating an automated system.
This is where you need to be examining your customer service and sales data under a microscope. What are the patterns related to the questions people ask?
Which patterns and questions occur the most? Even more, how can you program responses to answer all of them? How can you provided all the necessary information to bring people from the awareness stage to a decision?
1-800-Flowers.com does a fantastic job of nurturing customer success with a chatbot via Facebook Messenger. As soon as a customer starts a conversation, they are met with choices to view Best-Selling Items and Same-Delivery options. Once the customer makes their selection, the triggered response asks for a delivery address, name, and phone number. Then, the order can be paid for and finalized.
In addition to mapping the customer journey, the chatbot’s triggers are designed step-by-step to seamlessly guide the customer through the sales funnel.
Ultimately, the primary objective with AI platforms is to bridge the gap between people and machines. To do this, you need to put yourself in the shoes of the average customer and develop your bots around their path to success.
The “human” element is crucial in business. People generally want to buy from other people, not robots. Using chatbots can quickly complicate this process. Throughout all your marketing and sales efforts, you’ve worked hard to convey your unique brand persona in a way that relates to people on a personal level. Achieving the same effect with a bot can sound contradictory.
Keeping this in mind. Programming responses needs to be done in a way that defines the character and personality of your brand.
Mailchimp is one of the best examples of this. Their chatbots are carefully programmed to understand the common pain points throughout an email campaign and present answers in an empathetic way. In turn, they are able to connect with users emotionally.
For chatbots to truly be effective in customer interactions, they need to be designed with the notion of a genuine human experience with your authentic brand voice. At the end of the day, this is how businesses are able to build strong relationships with customers.
Learn from the data.
Customer mindsets and the digital landscape are changing by the day. Your bots should be following suit. The best thing you can do to navigate the trends and stay competitive is to consistently analyze your data and evolve your bots accordingly.
As your business grows, you need to be keeping an eye on how the flow of conversations are progressing and pinpoint the common threads. Even more, you should be looking at the big picture to understand the shifts in the users' intent.
Remember, chatbots are still very much in the infancy stage. They don’t (yet) have the same ability to adjust on the spot as humans do. Therefore, examining the key metrics must be your biggest driver in shaping future use of this platform.
Throughout history, we’ve seen so many incredible breakthroughs in how we streamline communication. As advanced and cutting-edge as the means of communication seem, the core aspects have remained the same.
The key to these breakthroughs is staying one step ahead of the customer and knowing how to react appropriately in any given situation. Regardless of what the future holds in this category of chatbots, AI and communication -- the crucial point will be staying ahead of the next big platform.
Building any new source of communication will need to incorporate the basic concept of how customer interactions have been handled in the past. Chatbots will need to use the past information for the new connectedness. The sweeping adoption and adaptation of Chatbots won't work unless businesses have programmed them to use the way people communicate.
This effort will take the Chatbot responding not only to the way people do now, the customer will expect the touchpoints and connections to be as they always have been for them. They likely will respond best to the up close and personal interaction.
Customers likely want to be treated by a Chatbot the way the average, real person believes they alway have been responded to, and the way they always should be.
Manish Dudharejia is the founder and president of E2M Solutions, a full service digital agency specialized in website design and development, ecommerce, SEO and content marketing. Dudharejia is passionate about technology, marketing and startups.