Forget becoming a teen idol, a role model or even the world’s biggest superstar. There is one thing that our athletes, musicians and film stars have strived to become since Michael Jordan first managed it thirty years ago - a multi-million dollar brand.
The way to do it now? Through social media. Stars are now able to offer more access than ever before to their fans while pumping out advertising for a range of glossy products for the trend conscious millennials.
Businesses have jumped on board too and are starting to realise that there is one solution which can provide a perfect scenario of increased customer engagement on all forms of social media while fattening their pockets. That solution? The chatbot.
Chatbots: a personal experience on social
People spend up to nine hours a day on social media. Our addiction is fed by the sense of excitement when someone takes the time to interact with us - be it in the form of likes, messages, retweets or follows.
To replicate this, brands need to engage personally with users on social media instead of simply employing it as a gateway to their website in the form of links.
The perfect tool to do this is the chatbot which can provide customers with the exact information they are looking for while also delivering the content you want to push in a space where the consumer is active.
How is this possible? Once the customer has provided their details to the chatbot it will be able to access their information and understand exactly what they are looking for in a service. An airlines chatbot would be able to record all your previous flights and cater for your requirements based on previous orders.
For example, if you are a vegetarian it would recognise that you have requested vegetarian food in the past and could automatically add this for your next booking. The chatbot will function just like an account manager for every single user minus the unsustainable costs this would entail.
The result is a personal, interactive experience for each individual - increasing their satisfaction with your brand and your profit margins in the long term.
Natural language processing: the secret ingredient
At the heart of the best recipes lie that special ingredient which makes them stand out. With chatbots, this is robust natural language processing.
When people are using social media they use chatty, informal language. Why employ a chatbot which can’t understand? This is where NLP comes in.
Observe the following two sentences:
“Can I check my order please?”
“Can I order by check?”
As you can see both phrases have near identical wording but mean completely different things. If your Facebook bot relied only on keyword matching (as many of them do) then it would struggle to identify the difference between each of these questions.
Strong NLP can understand that the first request is to get an update on a previous order while the second is regarding methods of payment. Both will provide different but equally correct answers for the user.
Understanding your intent:
By understanding the intent behind each user conversation, your Facebook bot will be able to know exactly what your customer wants to know or do.
This is made possible by incorporating decision trees which can ask the customer a series of relevant questions in order to find the exact answer.
FAQs can be too vague to satisfy the individual needs of each client. For example, an FAQ on what you are allowed to take into a concert might provide general guidelines without being specific to the event you want to attend. At best it will ask you to get in touch with the company organising the gig or with a customer service agent.
On the other hand, decision trees can narrow down on the precise answer ensuring the customer can stay on your Facebook Messenger channel to discover what they want. See the potential tree here:
User: Can I take my bag into the concert?
Chatbot: Each concert has different requirements. Can you tell me which concert you’re going to?
User: I’m going to see Drake.
Chatbot: Thanks! Which venue are you attending?
User: I’m going to the Hollywood Bowl
It is from here the bot has understood exactly which act and venue the user is going to and can call up the restrictions for that specific concert.
Not only is the customer satisfied but they have remained on your Facebook bot channel to allow you to continue the engagement and point them in the direction of other promotions.
Chatbot: always available
If you were to list the most common functions you use a cellphone for, actually ringing someone would probably not rank as high as it once did. In fact, more than a third of customers prefer using social media as opposed to the phone to contact customer support.
In addition, customers expect an almost instant response - nearly half demanding an answer within an hour.
Fortunately, chatbots can cater for both of these consumer desires. They are available 24 hours a day and can handle multiple conversations at the same time while providing answers almost immediately.
Chatbot transactions: your e-personal shopper
In retail stores, personal shoppers will ensure they are with you at every stage of the purchase. In a clothing store, they will help pick out items, ensure you can try them to see if they fit and will assist with buying, all the while answering any questions you might have. Why can this not be replicated online?
Chatbots are able to do this on the likes of Facebook and Skype. Customers will be able to get answers to all their queries before finally performing the transaction - providing a seamless experience.
Making the most of your data:
While bots can provide immediate benefits to both customer and business, by utilising the data generated, companies can ensure this is sustained over the long term.
Chatbots can help you understand user habits such as the frequency with which they are online, their interests among many other details. This allows businesses to tailor the updates they might send to ensure they are personal to the user.
In the past, customer experience has been an expensive investment. Employing a chatbot on social media will ensure it becomes a far more rewarding one for the customer and the company.
Joe Lobo, Botmaster, Inbenta
Image Credit: Katherine Welles / Shutterstock