How Will Artificial Intelligence Change the Chatbot Industry?

By Marcela De Vivo

One of the largest challenges we faced with one of our startups, a smartphone monitoring solution for parents, was dealing with a very intricate and confusing onboarding process that resulted in a large attrition rate. We were spending immense amounts of time and money acquiring potential customers, only to lose them because of an inability to answer their onboarding questions quickly and efficiently enough.

So how have we solved this pain point? With chatbots! Even though chatbots for marketing are relatively new, you’d be surprised at how advanced they currently are. From using neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) to enhanced analytical capabilities, there are already chatbots available that can work on your website, multiple messaging platforms, and more to help with both sales, support and conversion optimization.  

While working with our smartphone monitoring client, we researched 19 different solutions to find an implementation that has significantly reduced our investment in customer service while increasing sales and customer retention.  

Here's an overview of chatbots and how you can use them to increase sales and customer retention.

First of all, what is a chatbot?

AI chatbots possess human-like abilities to learn information with maximum efficiency. This is accomplished via neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) and machine learning.

This is what makes chatbots so artificially intelligent. They can process information and requests up to 1,000 times faster, with better results in most cases.

Consumers want information and answers to their questions at lightning speed. In fact, 77 percent of “digital natives,” Gen Y and Gen Z, “expect a personalized website experience,” according to a study by VentureBeat. AI chatbots can help brands meet those expectations, leading to bottom-line rewards.

For instance, you can improve customer experience by having AI chatbots programmed to take on the majority of the customer experience burden. These highly efficient bots can accomplish basic customer requests quickly, freeing up human personnel for more in-depth customer concerns.

Chatbots are relatively new to marketing, but the artificial intelligence behind them is certainly refining how brands connect with customers. Facebook Messenger is an exceptional example of how chatbots are revolutionizing sales and support for brands.

How are global brands using chatbots to enhance customer experience?

You can bet that you have had a number of conversations online with chatbots. Make no mistake, AI chatbots are being implemented everywhere, and Facebook Messenger is the most notable.

At the 2016 Web Summit, David Marcus, Facebook’s VP of Messaging Products said that its Messenger platform was 34,000 chatbots strong. “The first couple of bots on Messenger were really bad,” explained Marcus. “But six months in, we’re really starting to see good experiences on Messenger.”

Marcus wasn’t lying. The AI chatbots powering Facebook Messenger are funneling more consumers toward transactions, better customer service, and subscriptions for many global brands like Expedia, Uber and The Wall Street Journal.

Real time stock updates are mere child’s play for chatbots. They are redefining sales and support, as well as many other areas of marketing directly benefiting digital strategies.

Why are chatbots great for customer service?

Do you have a 24/7 customer service staff available to help website visitors with their product questions?  If not, a customer service chatbot can help.

Once you identify many of the common questions that your customer service staff receives, over and over again, you can automate answers to these questions. The user would log onto your site and turn on the “chat” icon. The chatbot would answer, and by walking the user through a series of pre-determined questions and answers, you could get a large portion of generic questions answered.

Questions that are too advanced for the chatbot could be sent to a human customer service staff who would have more information on hand to answer and help convert the customer. Consider the difference in costs, from having human customer service staff members, to having bots available to answer questions at all times of the day and night.

Chatbots enhance the mobile experience.

Consumers are using mobile more than ever, and AI chatbots are predicted to be the future of mobile, eliminating the need for apps altogether. The artificial intelligence supporting chatbots will allow consumers to find any service or product, or gain detailed information by simply talking or typing. Chatbots will combine natural language and a brand’s data to deliver the perfect answer.

This type of AI is already set to replace 1-800 numbers for many brands, according to announcements at Facebook’s 2016 F8 Conference. This type of technology will add a human touch to the customer support conversations consumers are having with bots.

Users can simply use features built into their smartphone, like Siri and voice messaging, to converse with the chatbots and get the answers quickly and efficiently on mobile. Given the rapid increase in mobile traffic, think of how this could improve mobile conversions.

AI is about truly knowing your customers and making them fans.

The real value of AI for marketers has yet to be revealed. However, there is no mistaking the quick progress it continues to make. This makes AI vital for any brand looking to boost sales and support in the near future.

Brands that fail to see the value in AI could suffer severe consequences to their quarterly numbers. Consumers are more demanding than ever, and pairing artificial intelligence with your digital strategy will only enhance customer experience --and in turn, increase profits.

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Marcela De Vivo is the CEO of Gryffin.com, a content marketing agency focused on digital PR.

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