My name is agent Bot…Chat-Bot
Who said that chatbots are dead might need to rethink it. Chatbots are still an important digital marketing trend in 2018 economy and a recent Forrester report forecasted that by 2022, the AI-based tools will help businesses save $80 billion/year in customer service costs in the banking and healthcare industries.
Many customers prefer interacting with chatbots as they are responsive and give answers promptly and accurately and never lose patience. These virtual assistants offer outstanding customer service, meeting customers’ expectations and automating repetitive tasks that let organizations focus on more important work. By now we are all familiar with the most conventional forms of bots that live either on websites or on messaging platforms (like FB messenger). These AI assistants answer questions, provide product information, services recommendations, and ask for an email address to send details without any human involvement. They can also retain information so that a customer doesn’t have to start over with every new interaction (i.e. Uber uses chatbot technology to communicate with customers, making it easy for them to hire cars even on Facebook Messenger. Passengers can use the menu to choose the type of ride, make a request, track the location of the car, send friends a time estimate of their arrival, and even make payment).
But chatbots are getting smarter every day and they are becoming real PAs that help book flights, travel arrangements and even solve problems on a personal basis. Project management tool Trello (together with a Google incubated start-up) is experimenting with an AI chatbot that organizes specific projects, assigns tasks, sets deadlines, appointments, and even records meetings. And these level of technological advancement will be rolled out soon in other industries as well.
What does it mean for us marketers
Chatbots and AI technologies are miles away from becoming fully integrated in our society, but we start seeing some practical applications that are becoming mainstream. Besides customer service, which is expected to be fully replaced by these “robots” in a 10-year time frame, another area that is going to be affected is content personalization and potentially even advertising. Interactions between organizations and consumers will become a 2-way street (Not just companies speaking at the consumers, but also the other way around) and advertising is expected to become more conversational. Google is leading the way of conversational marketing (through the Google’s Answer Box) and a few Silicon Valley startups are on the verge of launching platforms where users, through their questions and curiosity, are triggering conversation-based ads.
Imagine for a second to see a Facebook ad that interacts with you based on what you write/speak to it about. You see an ad for a new movie coming out that you would like to watch? We will get to the point where you could speak/write to the ad, recommend the best times for the show, buy the tickets and get the directions to the theater in the same ad unit experience. The future of communication then will not be just conversational but mainly experiential. Give it 5 years and we will be there.