Integrating chatbots into your brand marketing strategy
Written by Chris Sykes
Chatbots – Word-of-mouth?
Believe it or not, the very first chatbot, ELIZA, was created by Joseph Weizenbaum all the way back in 1966. ELIZA used pattern matching and substitution methodology to simulate conversations and the program was designed in a way that it mimicked human conversation. It’s fair to say that this technology was not widely embraced and ELIZA, although ground-breaking, took its place in the history books.
In more recent years however, chatbots are on the rise. Mainstream technology vendors such as IBM, Microsoft, and Google (as well as a myriad of emerging chatbot start-ups) are now developing conversational AI solutions and tools that leverage Natural Language Processing, Natural Language Understanding and Natural Language Generation.
These companies aim to address three distinct areas when developing conversational AI:
- Call automation – the ability to offer customer service 24/7, 365 days a year, without the need for human contact centre agents.
- Better, more efficient customer service – to make sure customers aren’t kept waiting or become frustrated by being passed from department to department.
- Gathering data – to allow them insights on their customers that are taken from natural language conversations between humans and machines.
The growing adoption of conversational AI and chatbots
Most of the early adopters of chatbots and conversational AI are in those sectors where the benefits are most immediately apparent. Banking, Financial Services, Utilities, Telecommunications, Healthcare and IT – industries that rely heavily on their contact centres.
Now, we’re seeing a plethora of ‘fast followers’ from other sectors join them, creating a growing global chatbot ecosystem. Chatbots are here to stay. And while some experiences conversing with a machine may not always be the best, can’t the same be said of any technology in its early stages? Think of the first mobile phone you ever owned. Chances are it was a brick of a thing, capable of making calls and, if you were lucky, playing a game of snake. Compare that technology with the far more advanced phone you now can’t be without and consider the potential growth for chatbots once more.
Bringing chatbots into the marketing picture
Automating more inbound calls, delivering on-demand customer service, gaining insights into customers – these are the core drivers for businesses who are investing in chatbots. But at what stage in the not-too-distant future do these new brand touchpoints have a direct impact on the perception of the brand they represent? When do the brand guardians and marketing departments step in to influence the tone of the chatbots and in turn gain brand awareness from their ‘conversations’ with consumers?
I have the contentious view that ‘marketing’ as we know it is a dying discipline. The traditional ‘push’ methodology will be flipped to become a ‘pull’ methodology – putting the customer in control of what they engage with, and when, and also how they consume content. Chatbots will play a pivotal role in the evolution of a brand transitioning from ‘push’ to ‘pull’. They’ll be the first and ongoing touchpoint that many people will have with a brand. During this transition, how does a brand align its traditional marketing channels, campaigns, and communications with the business’ ambition to service more customers with chatbots? And how can a business avoid delivering an experience that negatively impacts its brand?
Right now, there is a clear gap between the chatbot development teams and the brand and marketing departments. It’s a very left-brain, right-brain concept, bringing the developers closer to the content creators and brand influencers. As a marketer for over 20 years turned tech company CEO, I can see where an adopter of conversational AI may not currently get the full value from its potential. Already, we’re working with customers such as Accenture, Emirates, Hulu, Nestle, Nokia, Sky and Vodafone, to help them get the full potential out of their conversational AI.
Bridging the gap between chatbot developers and marketing departments
Volume and Eulogy have come together in an industry first partnership to help bridge this gap and allow these adopters to get the most out of their chatbots. Our partnership supports businesses and brands to prepare and develop their conversational AI strategies, and to determine what skills and roles will start to permeate their marketing departments of the future.
What tools will marketers need to understand the performance of, and data gained from, customers’ conversations? How much alignment can be achieved between a business’s operational gains and its customer experience, conversion and retention?