Though chatbots were pretty new on the scene in 2018, they’re beginning to become ubiquitous as customer service and marketing tools. As customers become more used to interacting with chatbots, brands’ adoption of them is increasing.
It’s All About Creating Value
The key to successful chatbot adoption is ensuring that there’s value for the customer. In an Uberall survey, 80% of respondents who have interacted with a chatbot said the experience was positive.
What makes for a valuable experience? Helping customers with what they want. The survey found that 38% of consumers want to receive deals, coupons, and promotions from chatbots, while 31% want customer service support. Other consumers want details on store locations and hours near them, personalized product recommendations, or the option to directly buy an item through the bot.
Customization is key with chatbots, otherwise, they’re just glorified information boards. When you use the data available to personalize the content the bot delivers, it can, in real time, give a customer exactly what she wants, and even increase conversion rates.
Brands Big and Small Use Chatbots
While initially, it was larger companies leveraging chatbots, we are now seeing the technology trickle down to small businesses.
Pariah Brewing Company, in San Diego, used chatbots in conjunction with a Facebook ad campaign to offer a beer coupon. Within seconds, someone interested in the offer could give the chatbot its email address and have a coupon in her inbox. No human interaction needed.
Larger brands like Hipmunk are also leveraging chatbots to help customers book flights. Enter what you’re looking for and the bot will find flight options.
Room for Improvement
Like with any technology, chatbots still need a little spit and polish to be completely effective. Because AI and natural language processing are still in their infancy, the technology still needs a little work to better understand what customers are asking for. And consumers also want to have the ability to talk to a human when needed or have a more human-sounding natural conversation.
For some brands, the problem is simply knowing how to create that value mentioned above so that chatbots aren’t just a novelty but that they actually serve a purpose and get customers to rely on them.
When mobile apps came on the scene and brands started creating them, most were just an exciting novelty; only the ones that actually did anything useful stuck around and are used today. The same goes for chatbots: if they’re just cute and fun to play with, they won’t last, but if brands find a way to interact with customers that makes them seek out the bots when they’re on a website or messenger app, they’ll get more mileage for their efforts.
More Marketing Opportunities for Chatbots
We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface when it comes to chatbots’ potential. Now that consumers are more accustomed to how they can use chatbots to interact with a brand, they’re dictating what they want from chatbots in the future.
In the Uberall survey, more than half of respondents said they would be likely to try a chatbot that offered location-based coupons, deals, or promotions from nearby businesses. This is a feature that few brands have tried out with bots as of yet.
A chatbot could provide a shopper with a guide to new products if she expresses interest in a particular genre. It could help a traveler not only book her ticket for her vacation but also give her a travel guide to plan fun activities. It could ask a shopper for her friends’ birthdays and then send email reminders of them, along with gift recommendations. Really, there is no limit to what chatbots can do.
We can no longer look to the future for chatbot adoption because it’s happening now. Gartner says that by 2020 (not far off at all), customers will manage 85% of their relationship with a business without interacting with a human at all. That’s a pretty powerful testament to the fact that chatbots are proving their weight in gold.