Support Bots: Not Just Another Trend, Truly A Revolution
Revolutionary. It’s a word that gets tossed around with just about every innovation in the digital marketing field. However, when it comes to support chatbots, it’s not just another case of the hype outrunning the reality. For once, it is the accurate and apt word, when it’s applied to the increasing use of chatbots on company websites - and for the rapidly-changing ways companies are learning about their customers, and using that knowledge to optimize and personalize the customer journey.
Considering that an improved customer experience (CX) is a top priority for every organization in today’s hyper-competitive marketplace, “revolutionary” is proving to be the best word to describe an endlessly adaptable, scalable technology that can fundamentally change the face of customer engagement.
If chatbots aren’t new, how can they be revolutionary?
The concept of chatbots is nearly as old as modern computing and has long been a point of fascination for techies, going all the way back to famed computer scientist Alan Turing’s 1950 article “Computing Machinery and Intelligence." Yet it was decades before technology produced the solutions that would have practical and transformative applications in digital marketing.
Two big developments in recent years have spurred the growth of chatbots in digital business.
The simplest bots were built on a set of rules that enables them to “converse” by recognizing keywords and drawing their responses from a database. In contrast, today’s advanced support chatbots use Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) to closely replicate conversation with a human, learning and growing “smarter” with each conversation and fully engaging with the customer to provide accurate and timely responses every time.
Secondly, the rules have changed in 2016, with the announcement by Facebook that it was turning Messenger, its messaging app with more than one billion users, into a platform that now allows businesses to communicate with their customers by way of chatbots. In short order, businesses climbed aboard Messenger and other messaging platforms, with the emergence of cutting-edge and fully integrated chatbot solutions for the new vehicles.
nanorep, a leader in developing messenger bot-ready solutions, points out that it is the unprecedented impact of the integration of support bots and messaging platforms that is revolutionizing customer engagement in the digital world. For the first time, companies have the ability to reach customers with the self-service tools that provide a seamless experience. For customers, the combination of support bots and messaging platforms yields relevant and personalized information delivered in a convenient environment, with a simple click of a mouse or finger swipe.
Chatbots and messaging platforms are a perfect marriage
Within months of the Facebook announcement, tens of thousands of businesses had signed on and were discovering the myriad ways support chatbots can allow them to interact with their customers more efficiently and creatively.
And it’s no wonder. Smartphones and tablets are where people “live” online in our mobile society, so that’s where businesses need to be as well. Yet, for most companies, standalone apps haven’t turned out to be the most effective way to connect with customers. With millions of apps for consumers to choose from, it’s all too easy for any one company to get lost in the mix, especially when you consider the fact that the average person only uses a handful of apps on a regular basis.
Support chatbots offer efficiency and versatility
It’s beyond doubt that support chatbots have grown to be valuable members of the customer service and marketing teams for any organization utilizing them. For one thing, they can provide customers with reliable, accurate service free from the foibles of actual employees. That ensures a customer experience that won’t be undermined by a headache or just a bad day at the office. And, of course, it means that offering exemplary customer service doesn’t have to mean high personnel costs.
In practice, though, businesses are finding that support bots have a virtually unlimited range of uses. Across industries, these range from updating customers about company news, products, and promotions, to assisting customers in finding the products they are looking for, taking orders and receiving payments via Messenger, and sharing shipping and delivery information, to name just a few.
It’s a marriage made to last
There comes a point when a “trend” becomes something much more than that, and in the case of messaging platforms that point has arrived. Halfway through 2015, the number of monthly users of messaging apps surpassed the number of monthly social media app users, and that line on the graph is only continuing to rise.
At the same time, the sophistication of support chatbots has reached a level at which the bots are delivering top-quality customer experiences today while continuing to learn and improve, guaranteeing that the technology will have a permanent and prominent place in the world of digital marketing.
Put those two facts side by side and it’s not a trend you’re witnessing. It is, in fact, nothing short of a revolution.