Given the immense popularity of messengers these days, it’s no wonder that businesses try to use any opportunity to get closer to the consumer. Has Whatsapp’s ad spam managed to get to you too? So annoying! Let’s skip the sad part and talk about useful technology.
About 75% of Internet users use messengers. Messengers even surpass social networks in number of active users. It is no surprise that the business sees Facebook Messenger, a new platform, as a loophole towards the consumer.
In the first place, messengers owe their popularity to millennials (generation Y – young men and women at the age of 18-34), half of whom think that texting is just as good as calling. In their opinion, texting helps you to feel a constant connection with a person unlike a phone call with its clear beginning and ending.
This is the feeling that business is lacking in its relationships with clients. Messengers could help fix it. It is important that this interaction channel doesn’t repeat email’s sad fate, wherein the clients’ emails were left unanswered which would then drive people to reach for the phone and dial tech support. They didn’t even mind the wait time. At least, after listening to a silly melody you finally reach a real person who hears you out and tries to solve your problem right away.
Bots are designed to be in constant touch with the client. They are special programs that automatically do certain tasks, for instance, answer client questions addressed to the company in a messenger. In fact, they provide with the same information that can be found in a company’s mobile app, just in a different way. There is no special interface or need to navigate inside the app to find some specific information – just type the text in your favorite Facebook Messenger.
Let’s, for example, get familiar with a KLM’s bot for Facebook Messenger. This chat-bot allows the client to receive flight confirmations, boarding passes, reminders and notifications about flight status changes right on your phone or tablet in Facebook Messenger whose audience is about 800 million active users per month. This is a great alternative for passengers who already use Facebook Messenger but don’t want to install another app and search for a specific option.
Bots can already process such simple requests as weather forecast, baggage tracking, and balance check-up. However, bot artificial intelligence cannot cope yet with some of the more specific requests that the client may have. Companies that transfer to bots too quickly and extensively may ruin their own reputation. Customers are not fools. They understand the difference between useful automation technology and an automated formal reply on the company’s behalf.
It is very important to understand that the main reason messengers are so popular is that there is a real person at the other end. Businesses are tempted to automate everything possible whenever they get the chance, but practice has shown that you shouldn’t abuse it – complicated touchtone systems (often referred to as “IVR-jails”) never won anyone over. Customers don’t like to feel as if companies are trying to save some money using new technology on their account: self-service is ok but within reasonable limits, for instance, in a store, but not when looking for an answer or the solution to a problem. Businesses have to be careful: they can use bots for simple tasks in order to observe their development, while they are “learning” from their “human” colleagues. When the customer gets in touch with a company, they probably already have a problem, which significantly lowers their tolerance towards bots, which unlike a human cannot immediately get to the point and offer a solution. Do not risk your customers’ loyalty!
If in the future bots become more intelligent, consumers may no longer find interacting with them off-putting, but rather as the norm. Together with developments in artificial intelligence, the number of possible situations when you need an answer for a basic request is growing too. Artificial intelligence is in fact becoming cleverer. “Hey Siri” and “Okay Google” are capable of doing many things for us. Well, within the capabilities of a smartphone, of course. :)