CX + Loyalty Performance Marketing

The Benefits of Bots

Consumers consult Siri for answers, order a pizza from Alexa, and chat with Erica about a bank balance, putting a familiar name to responsive artificial intelligence (AI). In marketing, AI technology is gaining traction in the form of bots, computer programs that seamlessly complete automated tasks.

By providing specific information in real time, bots help brands facilitate personalized service and commerce across devices. To this end, bots have become an extension of the brand, interacting with customers to accomplish immediate tasks that foster loyalty and drive repeat business and sales.

In the Expectation Age, when empowered buyers expect outstanding, seamless experiences no matter the industry, bots are one way brands can meet those heightened customer demands.

Enhancing the Customer Experience
Bots enable individuals to have conversations with a computer in much the same way they would a customer service agent. This technology delivers convenient information that makes it simple to get answers, purchase goods and services, and promote interests and hobbies.

As companies search for ways to grow their customer base, serve existing customers, and keep human resource costs in check, bots are proving to be a viable, productive, efficient answer. For example, a bot can interact with customers 24/7, while a call center or customer service department usually has limited hours and days off.

Bots also enable marketers to be more effective and efficient with budgets by facilitating  interactions that answer the right questions in the right way at the right time to enhance the customer experience. Gartner predicts that this year, 34% of all chatbots will be used for customer engagement.

Categories of Bots
By 2020, approximately 80% of businesses will use chatbots; by 2021, 50% will spend more on bots and chatbot creation than on traditional mobile app development. Some of the most popular types of bots include the following:

  • Shopping bots: Bots used to facilitate online retail purchases. Examples: eBay and 1-800-Flowers.
  • Personal finance bots: Bots are used to check account balances, transfer funds, make payments (PayPal), and act as a virtual financial advisor. While a growing number of bots are geared to help consumers manage finances, many banks have their own branded chatbot. Examples: Erica (Bank of America) and Eno (Capital One).
  • Service bots: Bots can help consumers make appointments or request service. ExamplesYourMechanic and Uber.
  • Medical information bots: Bots can provide specific medical information. ExamplesHealthTap and WebMD.
  • Travel information bots: Bots can provide updates on travel-related issues, such as train schedules. ExamplesTransit and TuBot.
  • Weather bots: Bots can provide real-time weather analysis based on location. ExamplesThe Weather Channel and Poncho. 
  • Lifestyle bots: Bots can deliver information related to a particular interest or hobby. ExamplesShelfJoy  and Daily Music. 

Bots Remove Brand Barriers
For brands, bots can reduce labor expenses, boost employee productivity, and improve sales. For marketers, bots can assist with qualifying leads, enable personalized marketing, and increase engagement.

As consumers rely more on digital capabilities, simple transactions and seamless transitions are key. Bots can successfully enable a transaction, answer a question, meet an immediate information need, or lead the customer to a different, yet satisfying, resolution.

Bots are designed to remove barriers and friction and help consumers accomplish what they want, when they want it. From buying new shoes to reserving a hotel room, a bot needs to meet customer expectations for speed and accuracy in order to be successful

There are three key lessons to follow when developing a bot:

  • Understand the voice of the customer. Marketers should take time to analyze the interactions needed to make the brand experience successful. Develop the bot to address customer needs based on that data, not assumption. 
  • Don’t set it and forget it. Look for ways to refine what’s been built in order to further enhance the user experience and increase adoption.  
  • Design for scale. Bots are created from software and can scale quickly. As long as the foundational core is operational and leverages the right data points and design, there is opportunity to iterate quickly. 

The Future of Bots
In time, bots will deliver more information faster, gaining efficiencies with cross-communication functionality to create a new level of service and interaction. Chatbots will soon be able to alert a customer when a particular product is available, then interact with an e-commerce bot to make the purchase

For many brands, a bot is the right tool to engage customers and meet their need for fast, efficient, on-demand information and service. These capabilities pave the way for marketers to embrace the unique role a bot can play for brand promotion and customer experience.

By James Crolley

James leads Ansira’s integrated media teams to support clients using marketing automation, data analytics, CRM, and performance media capabilities.