Remember the old days of ordering a pizza? You’d pick up the phone, place your order, and spend the next thirty-minutes peering out of the window in anticipation for your cheesy goodness to arrive.
These days, it goes something like this. Place your order, queue up a Netflix drama, and spend the next thirty-minutes staring into your smartphone, musing over minute-by-minute updates from a witty chatbot named Dom.
“Sit tight, we’re just about to start prepping your order!”
*Slides across living room floor on knees...*
We live in an age where we want answers right here, right now. If we don’t get them, we feel uneasy. Artificially intelligent (AI) chatbots rid the world of that uncomfortable blindspot. They harness the micro-decisions we experience on a daily basis and see them as an opportunity to help. Whether booking a taxi, changing a delivery address, or selecting a window seat, chatbots guide us with helpful pointers that make the customer experience easy, fun and fast. The kind of shopping experience that is a pleasure to engage with.
By 2020, 80% of businesses will have adopted chatbot technology. This move towards conversational media is driven by the importance of authentic, two way conversations with customers. In a world where Siri, Alexa and Google Home are letting themselves into households around the globe, the question remains; How can tech companies leverage chatbot technology to refine the customer experience and improve customer acquisition?
If you think the answer to that question is; "employing a NASA scientist who has a PHD in Computer Science", think again. The challenge of building a good bot is not a technical one, someone else has taken care of that for you. Your challenge is a conversational one. Understanding how chatbot technology can make buyers tick at each stage of the buyers journey will help you create a bot that's right for your customers.
Understand your customers!
"Hey Siri, call Heather!"
"Okay, here's today's weather..."
Is there anything more annoying? Probably not. The first rule of bot school is this. Only use one if:
- It's useful.
- It provides relevant information.
Anything else is considered a hindrance. Take advantage of a channels strengths and mitigate its weaknesses. Think about what problems your buyers might encounter as they interact with your site. Perhaps you've made modifications to your site? Now is a good time to use a chatbot to give them a tour of those new features. Considering the hurdles that are between your customer and the shopping basket will increase your chances of moving buyers along in the customer journey.
Keep it simple!
In the early stages of the buyer's journey, driving traffic to a gated landing page that has 3, 4, or Heaven forbid, 5 fields for the prospect to fill in can be all it takes to turn that user away. It’s time consuming, tedious and by the time they’ve entered all of their details just to receive a quote, they’ve probably gone off the idea.
A more effective method can be to use a chatbot on your visitor or pricing page. Chatbots have a higher open rate than email because they solve the buyer’s problem right there and then. Conversational growth of this kind is critical for initiating a relevant conversation with your prospect and getting them on the path to eventually buying.
“Hey, I’m Tom, founder of ‘Company X’. How can I help you today?”
This interactive prompt nudges the user to ask a question, which in this case may be followed up with something like:
“I’m interested in a quote for ‘Service Y’"
Optimising the chat flow so that it continues conversational interactions can be a smart way to gather further information from the lead. This will help you move the prospect further along in the buyer’s journey.
“Great, please tell me your company name and email address and I’ll send you a quote for ‘Service Y’ right away.”
Delivering the emotionally correct response before delivering the factually correct answer is a good way to show empathy with the reader and keep them engaged. All they have to do is follow up with their company name and email address. Then voila! The answer they’re looking for. No filling in forms, no waiting, just straightforward instant messaging that feels natural. If they like the look of the quote, that positive chatbot experience could make the difference between a sale and another missed-opportunity.
Make it personal!
Personalisation is a powerful way to build brand loyalty. We love it! Whether buying a bottle of Coca-Cola with our name proudly protruding on the side, or waiting for the moment we're called out in the Starbucks queue, it's clear, personalisation does 'it' for us. With so much competition out there, sometimes the little touches are all it takes to make us reach for our wallet.
The wealth of data that can be gleaned from AI makes it a perfect enabler for a more targeted customer experience. Suppose you own a technology website that sells subscriptions to the latest industry related news. Leads for business-news and consumer-news will be documented separately. Segmenting these users into two categories gives you a clearer picture of what they like. Someone reading a lot of consumer-tech news is probably more interested in ‘Apple’s new iPhone’, whereas someone who reads mostly business-tech news is more likely interested in a GDPR article. Using a chatbot to nurture leads in this way can be an effective tactic for personalising the user experience and converting prospects into qualified leads.
“Would you like to subscribe to breaking news alerts based on your reading habits?
Offering a tailored experience based on a user's interaction with your company can be all it takes to convince that lead to subscribe. No more trawling through pages of irrelevant news topics to get to the one’s they’re interested in reading. Now the reader is served relevant topics based on their personal preferences. When the user now a subscriber, you have the opportunity to nurture that qualified lead with more targeted content. The more personalised the user experience, the more likely they are to return, and the better chances of them becoming a customer.
Make it fun!
We’ve all been there. Enter the online shopping basket. The make or break of the customer journey. Make it quick, fun and easy (cough Amazon), we’ll be back for more. Make it tedious, confusing and infuriating, we’ll likely never return.
57% of users abandon their shopping carts as they feel not ready to buy yet. Making the buying process too painful can be the root cause of this. It’s like going to the supermarket, putting everything in your trolley, then aborting the mission at the last minute because the queue was too long. All that time staring into your bottomless pit of goodies made you think twice about your bank balance.
Making the checkout experience swift and fun makes for a much different experience. This is more like you sat in the trolley whilst your friend pushes you around the supermarket at lightning speed before whizzing through the checkout without a single sole in sight.
When your shiny new toy or slick new service is only one click away, that temptation can be all it takes to seal the deal.
“Would you like to use Touch ID to make future transactions?”
Utility bots are particularly useful at the closure stages of the buyer's journey. They solve user problems. No more slow checkouts, tedious data entry tasks or missed future payments. Utility bots refine the customer experience by ensuring all these nuisances are taken care of. That explains why 47% of shoppers are open to buying items from a bot.
Keep it consistent!
Today, customer experience trumps everything, even cost. Making sure your customers have a consistently positive experience all the way down the sales funnel ensures they’ll talk favourably about your brand. This means recommendations to friends and positive online reviews. With 74% of consumers saying positive online reviews make them trust a business more, attracting new business relies on happy customers.
Leveraging chatbot technology offers customers greater transparency and personalisation. Tech companies must exploit this technology to refine the customer experience. Providing timely, relevant and valuable information will lead to higher customer acquisition. This will allow tech startups to continue disrupting global economies like Financial Services. An industry that has been slow to adapt to the needs of the modern day buyer in recent years. The shift towards messaging apps marks the beginning of the next chapter in this evolution. It's clear, the future of tech is human, where conversation flows freely between man and machine. The biggest irony of all, is that it's being powered by AI.
Chatbot, it's a pleasure doing business with you.