How Chabots will continue to grow online communities
Everyone remembers the first time they were fascinated by an online world, an online community where he or she found people like themselves. Topics, discussions and stories that were your own to share. These experiences are what gave the internet character, and everyone involved a sense of online friendship
Whether you found belonging in a forum on Reddit, Habbo Hotel or even World Of Warcraft. You knew it was a place to go to engage in conversations, leave reality and have fun.
Today we are starting to see more online communities than ever. So much, so businesses have decided it is the key to a productive workplace. It has the potential to increase productivity and improve retention.
We must be careful though as these it is not possible to merely pluck them out of thin air. Too many companies now are having conversations like; It’s 2018 we need a community to increase employee retention.
My first experience with an online community at a business level was at Telstra. They tried to ship in their community with an enterprise software called Yammer. Essentially Facebook for business. Gross.
Most mornings I would log in for an irrelevant business-wide news update. Generally, I would find high-level executives gloating about achievements they received as part of their job description. Then every other piece of content from our “Leaders” seemed to be ghostwritten by their PA’s. It felt so unauthentic and unengaging.
We got lost along the way
Corporate goals seem to destroy a sense of community that we find online. We migrate to communities organically and genuinely engage in the conversations we believe are authentic. These places are not someone to gloat about the achievements of one’s self.
Some business communities have created a sense of disconnection, so we must figure out how we can bring that back.
I genuinely believe there could have been some great discussions happening within Telstra’s online community. Although I didn’t know the rules, what topics I could engage in and when I logged in every morning, there was nothing that interested me.
Chatbots are here to help
However, what if there had been someone so courteous to introduce me into this community? Show me around the place, ask what topics interested me? Realistically no one had the time at that Telstra. I can’t say it would’ve been entirely practical either, although a welcome email would have been nice.
A chatbot could work great at a lower level task like introducing people into a new community. Its functionality could act as an interactive directory of sorts. Helping me learn the ropes, discover topics that helped foster thought-provoking conversations.
Primarily this would have helped lower that barrier of entry for me, ignore the gloating C level suits and genuinely find the deepest darkest corner to discuss new technology, company history and Friday lunches.
The future is bright
With the continuing increase in online communities and chatbots, I am sure we will see this marriage come together somewhat naturally.
Communities will continue to grow and become more complex. Chatbots will become smarter with the rise in AI technology allowing them to deliver a more personalised experience. This technology will lead to more in-depth conversations from a variety of audiences.
Your eCommerce employee superstar
Customers yearn for memorable journeys in eCommerce!
memorable journey = shareable experience, greater retention and customer advocacy
They crave a genuine relationship with the brands they choose to buy from. A relationship far beyond just pushing a buy button.
Let’s give it to them.
This blog post will discuss a few things to help you understand why chatbots are a positive move for businesses in eCommerce and how to gain momentum in thinking about the application of one.
We will look at:
– Proven applications of a chatbot from existing businesses.
– Three of the most significant benefits of including a chatbot in your sales or branded journey
– And, current customer perception of this technology.
Before we dive straight into throwing recommendations, possibilities and exciting statistics and success stories let’s first visit why we should consider a chatbot in eCommerce. The application of a chatbot is something that can be applied in various different ways to ultimately improve customer experience. Most notably, a chatbot would help create an exceptional brand image.
Exceptional brand image = Trust
Trust is now more important than ever for all businesses due to global news of brands employing deceiving tactics to profit from users and customers. This is obviously without even touching on the endless competition that continues to come to the market to take your customers. So how can your chatbot help with trust? well, unfortunately, unlike in the past trust isn’t only a result of excellent service anymore. To achieve trust, you must be perceived as being up-to-date and innovative. Let’s take a look at some successful eCommerce bots.
That’s right, there are already successful chatbots.
The Reservation assistant – Sephora
This clever assistant helped Sephora boost their reservation rates by 11% with a simple conversation targeted at their customers.
On-demand purchasing assistant – 1-800-Flowers
1-800-Flowers introduced an ordering chatbot that unknowingly broke into a new market segment boasting an increase in first-time orders by 70%. Sales entirely produced through the bot.
Your pocket barista! – Nitro Café
This smart application of a chatbot gave customers the ability to order coffee just by asking for one through Facebook Messenger and as a result boosted Nitro Café’s sales by 20%.
What benefits does an eCommerce chatbot have?
There are a few applications and skills that a chatbot can possess. At the end of the day, it entirely comes down to what your product or service offering is. The top 3 positive outcomes from an eCommerce chatbot are,
Hyper-personalisation for your customers.
It is important to make the customer feel special. And without a shop assistant personally sitting with the user, this was something that was difficult to achieve. Until now, so what’s possible?
– Upsell and cross-sell products or services based on customer behaviour.
– Provide product recommendations.
– Remind the user of something they may have viewed online or an abandoned cart. (and even complete the payment inside the chat window)
– Deliver tailored ads or promotions based on the users’ purchasing behaviour.
Relieve the tension from areas of your business
This is another important effect of chatbots as this creates a more seamless and positive shopping experience for the customer. As well as improving employee comfortability. So what’s possible?
– Help the user with quick information or assistance
– Provide a method of filtering customers to correct service team members to reduce wait times in call centres.
– Provide product and shipping information.
– Change customer details on the fly. This may include details such as a delivery address or email.
Increase customer engagement
Engagement is something that can be achieved with the elements mentioned above but some other focused methods should be considered. Increasing engagement with your brand is a great start to improving brand trust. Remember how we spoke about trust being an important factor in eCommerce? well, this is how we improve it.
– Send mass announcements. With positive engagement.
(Jay Baer saw a 10X open rate with content, and 5X the engagement with that content, compared to email)
– a/b test the effectiveness of messages to better understand your audience.
– Notifications for things like recently in-stock items or new items that the customer might be interested in.
– Ask for customer feedback on any service or product.
So now, what do consumers think?
The companies MyClever, Drift, Salesforce, and SurveyMonkey Audience set out on a joint project to understand consumer perception of chatbots in comparison to current methods of customer engagement. This study found convincing statistics, most notably that Baby Boomers strongly believe that they will benefit significantly from chatbots in 5 of the 10 use case studies presented. As well as a high interest in the personal benefits of a bot that can service their needs when ever they need.
Showing off a flashy website, app or product isn’t enough. Applying all your branded elements in a seamless shopping experience is the only way to see positive results from new innovative tech such as intelligent chatbots. This is an important insight for anyone considering a chatbot. Your bot needs a purpose and it needs to understand this in order to provide the customer with the best experience. If for some reason the bot cannot help the customer there should always be a method to resolve the problem in another way. Whether that means a service representative contacts them or they are taken to an alternative journey in another touch point that suits that problem or need.
That’s it. A few success stories, insights and possibilities to get momentum and kick-start the design process of your very own eCommerce chatbot.
If you think you could benefit from a clever eCommerce assistant, let’s talk.
How a chatbot should be used, saving lives.
The emergence of chatbots has brought forth a wave of opportunities and possibilities that would make any technologist stoked. But sometimes the inner child in all of us can get a little too carried away. We begin to jot down things we want our next chatbot to do, most of them being things that are nice to have but not necessary at all.
Regardless of the resources and technical capabilities that one has at their disposal, problem-solving should still always come first. More importantly, simple yet effective solutions — the best problem solvers know how to KISS (keep it simple, stupid).
The chatbot that rose from the weeklong hackfest that Microsoft and Englander Institute of Precision Medicine (IPM) at Weill Cornell Medicine participated in, was a testament to that.
Weill Cornell Medicine chatbot
The knowledge base at Cornell currently supports 163 genes and 518 variants with 404 clinical interpretations. In order for clinicians to access medical data, they would have to click through a portal – clearly, a tedious and old method that could be automated, enter chatbots.
Microsoft and IPM spent a week hacking together a chatbot that could support both text and voice interactions with the knowledge base at Cornell Medicine.
Rather than clicking through a portal for information, users could query the chatbot for something in the knowledge base and get a response with the relevant data. This chatbot was integrated with an array of channels such as Microsoft Teams, Skype, Slack, and WebChat.
The chatbot enabled clinicians to access data in a handful of different ways, make clinical decisions at a faster rate and save time that could be better spent on their patients.
The technical delivery catered for both basic and complex scenarios
“Tell me more about EGFR.”
“Tell me about KRAS G12D.”
“Are there any clinical trials about this?”
Users would be able to query the knowledge base further with more complex questions.
You can the try the bot out here
Use chatbots in a meaningful way
The folks at Microsoft and IPM weren’t looking to create a chatbot that could jump over hoops and tell you your future, they built a tool that could automate a process and could scale.
They didn’t create a cool chatbot, they solved a problem in a cool way.
Chatbots are enablers for scalability, automation and an environment where users can focus their time and efforts towards more meaningful tasks.
If this read has left you inspired and you’ve identified a process that could be automated in your own operation, we’d love to hear from you!
Chatbot Automation Nirvana for your company in a five step strategy
Do you want more sales, more leads and happier customers? Less churn and more satisfying support requests? Don’t have the money for staff? That’s fine. Chatbot automation is your knight in shining armour that will allow you to scale one-on-one conversations with your customers. Without breaking a sweat.
This strategy outlines how the companies we partner with are automating their sales and support with a friendly, helpful chatbot. This strategy gets them to automation nirvana in a cost-effective way. No useless dollars spent, maximum learnings applied and happiest customer result.
What’s your secret chatbot automation strategy?
Alright, it’s really not that complicated. Companies we work with are always hesitant to go balls-deep, so to speak, investing in a chatbot. These concerns are totally warranted. What if chatbot automation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be? What if we sink thousands into a smart assistant and nobody uses it?
That’s where the strategy comes in. We at Mayte never, ever recommend releasing a full-featured project or product in one go. We always break it down into phases that can be easily learnt from and improved upon. This keeps investment conservative whilst producing the best results. Sort of like how you don’t want to jump the mark when designing a car.
But my business needs X and Y, STAT!
It’s also important to remember that businesses have priorities. These boil down to a few simple things: more sales/leads/customers and decreased churn via improved customer experience. Any innovative idea or project is always driven by a business or market lead so we can’t break the mould here. We need to increase leads and sales whilst making the customer happier. Chatbot automation can do all of this with the added benefit of long-term cost savings.
So here it is (I’ll go into more detail below). Here are the five steps we pitch and recommend companies go through on their journey to business and chatbot automation nirvana:
- Start with a Messenger bot and associated Ad campaign on a siloed Facebook page
- Add the Chatbot to your website after making improvements based on data collected
- Integrate your knowledge base with the chatbot to alleviate your support staff load
- Design and build common support tasks that are easy to automate and high frequency
- Integrate the resulting Assistant with your call centre.
Why chatbot automation in this order?
Remember the business priorities I mentioned? More sales, better customer experience and cost-saving. These five steps have been carefully crafted to hit the cheaper, low-hanging fruit first whilst also building a longer-term strategy. The cheapest and high impact (sales) initiatives are up front, whilst the longer-term, high cost and incredibly high impact ones are in the back. Business up front, party in the back. Nice.
Jokes aside, let’s break down each step of this chatbot automation strategy.
Baby steps: Messenger campaign
Chatbot automation became ubiquitous in the western world after Facebook launched the Messenger platform. They’ve grown the platform and added features non-stop. It’s now a robust tool that businesses can use to scale interactions with their customers in new and engaging ways.
The first stage involves creating a Messenger chatbot promoted through a Facebook Ad on a Facebook Page separate to your company page. There are great tools out there like Chatfuel and ManyChat that make it easy to get a messenger bot live (however can be restrictive in the future). They are a great place to start. Here’s why a Messenger campaign is a good first step.
Depending on how much you invest in branding and personality and what you want your chatbot to do, it’s a cheap place to start. There are plenty of things your chatbot can automate in this first stage. It’s important to pick and prioritise what will have the most impact on your company. It could be one of:
- Lead generation
- Lead qualification
- Promoting a new product
- Games and quizzes
- Dripped content
Regardless of what that low-hanging fruit looks like for you, the important thing is that you start on Messenger. Why? Two reasons. Firstly, it’s feature-set is incredibly diverse. Secondly, Messenger as an Ad destination.
Out of all the platforms we’ve worked with, Messenger has invested, by far, the most in the UX of using a chatbot. The quick replies, buttons, cards and interactions make bots without NLP incredibly engaging and also open up new opportunities as developers to do incredible things.
Messenger as an Ad destination is the real game changer for us though. When setting up an ad you can specify that the user gets directed to a Messenger conversation instead of a landing page or a regular Facebook page. This is HUGE because it means the entire interaction happens where users are already spending their time, without leaving. They see the ad, interact and convert all within one of the most used apps in the world.
All of this is done through a siloed, branded Facebook page. This is usually to allow the main page to continue to run as not to disrupt the day-to-day ongoings of business. It also makes stakeholders freak out less! Worst case the campaign goes bad the page can be chopped off at the legs and there’s no association to the main, original facebook page. That generally only happens if you don’t design your chatbot correctly, but that’s another article.
Finally – be sure to track your bot using analytics! This will provide valuable insight into how your conversation could be optimised. Chatbase is a great tool by Google for this.
Congratulations – you’ve now opened another channel for sales and leads.
Stand on your own: Add the bot to your website
Your chatbot automation campaign on Messenger should answer an important question: has this exercise benefited the company? You should be able to deduct from your metrics whether you’ve seen an uptick in sales, received more leads or handled an overall higher volume of traffic conversations with your customers in a positive way.
Conversations with your customers – this is the important takeaway. Traditionally scaling one-on-one conversations with your customers is a costly endeavour. Not anymore.
It’s time to bring your new secret weapon to ALL your customers. Launch the same chatbot on your website and as the first line of defence on your full-time facebook page. There are a few ways to do this. Facebook recently released customer chat on your website – so you could just deploy it and be done with it. That’s the easy version.
This is a great time to integrate the successful bot with your existing customer support tools. Unfortunately, support for rich interaction like quick replies and cards is currently limited, however, there are workarounds.
We recently integrated Intercom (supports only images and text at the time of writing) with a messenger bot and faced this challenge (bot was built with meya.ai). Instead of integrating the bot through Intercom, we integrated Intercom with both Messenger and our custom chatbot. This has the benefit of having a running conversation with your customers AND handling hand-over.
Hand over is a topic in itself. I will say that it’s extremely important to allow for this in some way, otherwise, you’ll have a handful of poor experiences. People get easily frustrated when they cannot achieve their goals quickly and this is the entire purpose of having a chatbot. Handover can happen in many ways – listening for a language trigger – i.e. “I want to talk to a real person” or tapping a menu item. Be sure to make the transition flawless, else risk a poor experience.
The bot now acts as a ‘first line of defence’ before your customer support team. Not in the sense that it tries to deflect the problem, but tries to address it automatically before deferring to a human.
Get walking: Boost self-service capabilities and save time
One thing has been consistent with the companies we’ve worked with in automating the customer experience: thousands of hours wasted on menial tasks and questions. Think about it – when you call up a customer service rep, there’s a micro onboarding. Privacy statements, verification, even waiting in a queue. All BEFORE the crux of the problem is actually solved.
You’ll see the numbers if you research and look closely enough – but around 80% of your requests are things that customers can generally do via self-service. Self-service has been a major paint point since the dawn of capitalism. How do we give our customers the tools to leave us alone and make more money?
Interview your support staff and research what are the most common queries and problems. Sort these by the ability to be done without your intervention and you’ll end up with something that looks like FAQs.
Shortcut: just take your existing FAQs or existing knowledge base.
There are plenty of tools to do this quickly and easily. QnA Maker by Microsoft is great. If you’re feeling adventurous, it’s time to dive into Dialogflow, Amazon Lex or Wit.ai.
Be sure to revisit and re-write the answers that your chatbot spews out. Chatbot conversation design is important to get a great experience.
Implementing this will alleviate your staff by giving customers answers faster, more consistent responses. It bolsters the ‘first line of defence’ from stupid questions and allows your staff to focus on the curly, more complex problems your staff face.
Start running: automate the hard stuff
By this stage, you’ll have a chatbot relatively capable of understanding customer requests and processing menial tasks. That’s all well and good – but as it only throws answers back to frequently asked questions, it doesn’t actually do anything core to the business.
This phase can be the most challenging, as you really have to balance what customers do most with the cost of the build. Complex features can take a lot of time and resources. Looking back to the effort/impact scale can really help here.
There are some great examples of companies doing this already, shown below.
Compete in the mother f*cking Olympics: automate your call centre
When you’ve successfully automated complex business tasks via conversation, what’s next? Provided you used Amazon Lex or similar for your Natural Language Processing, you can plug into tools like Amazon Connect to directly migrate these tasks to a voice interface. Check out the video below to have your mind blown.
So there you have it. Our strategy for free. Go forth and make bots! If you think your customer experience can be improved via automation, feel free to drop us a note!
Hey Alexa, let’s take the load off Mum this Mother’s Day
Amazon’s Alexa is promising new memory ability and conversation skills that will intensify your relationship with her. So much so, she can become the second in command mum. Since its Mother’s Day, and she deserves some TLC, let’s see how Alexa can give your Mum a helping hand.
1. Hey Alexa, what day is it?
A new memory feature is the first of many launches that will make Alexa more personalised. It will be easier for customers to save information, as well as provide a natural way to recall that information later. This means Alexa can remind you that Mother’s Day is this Sunday, May 13th! Or when mum has too much on her plate, Alexa can remember important dates and remind her.
“Alexa, remember that Sean’s birthday is June 20th.”
“Okay, I’ll remember that Sean’s birthday is June 20th.”
2. What’s that song again?
Developers are also providing a more natural way of engaging with Alexa. They are adding deep learning models to our spoken language understanding (SLU) pipeline that allows us to carry customers’ intent and entities within and across domains (i.e., between weather and traffic). This means less repeating yourself. Great for the time strapped Mum.
When your Mum is having a wine with the girls trying to remember her favourite albums, Alexa can keep her facts in check and can engage with her relayed commands.
“Alexa, what was Adele’s first album?” → “Alexa, play it.”
“Alexa, how is the weather in Seattle?” → “What about this weekend?”
“Alexa, how’s the weather in Portland?” → “How long does it take to get there?”
3. When Mum’s out, there’s Alexa.
Alexa can now open a particular required skill without being specifically asked for it. There are currently more than 40,000 skills from third-party developers so it can be overwhelming for users to try and find the right one. This new ability means a user could ask a general question using natural phrases and requests, and Alexa can respond with a specific, relevant skill.
4. No more nagging.
Always need Mum for important reminders? She gets tired of nagging you, and who can blame her, she has had to put up with you for long enough! So instead, ask Alexa to remind you things, for example: “Alexa remind me to leave home in 30 minutes”. One step better is the Start nagging me skill! Mum can even take over and ask Alexa to remind you about the important things like washing the dishes and cleaning your room. Just say ‘Alexa, start nagging me’, she’ll ask you what your task is and how many minutes you need to be reminded. The nagging comes every minute and after 10 minutes of being reminded Alexa will check with you to see if you have done the task.
5. The warm and fuzzies.
Need a compliment? Craving that warm, gooey feeling when your Mum tells you how beautiful and talented you are? Alexa can shower you with compliments, and ensure you start your day positively with the Good Morning, Beautiful skill. Before you charge into the world or head off to a gruelling day of work, take a few seconds for yourself with Alexa reminding you how beautiful you are. I’m not sure what’s better, a half truth from Mum or a compliment from a robot?
6. Mum, how do I cook this?
Tasking with making roast chicken, but got no idea? Let Mum keep relaxing, and make her dinner on Mother’s Day! The skill Meal Idea will give you recipe ideas by call of common, everyday items you likely already have in your pantry. It’s suggested things like a salad made of salad greens, canned beets and goat cheese. Or just say, “Hey Alexa, how do I cook a roast chicken!”
7. Mum, do I need a jacket?
Stop harassing Mum for the hour-by-hour weather updates. Alexa can let you know if you actually need a jacket. The Feels Like skill tells you what it really feels like outside in less than 6 seconds. It will give you the wind chill temperature when temperatures are below 50 degrees or the heat-index temperature when it is higher. You can specify a city or place anywhere in the world, or it can use your current location.
8. Mum, can you tuck me in?
Did your Mum used to sing you a lullaby? Well Alexa can put you to sleep with heaps of different sounds through the Sleep and Relaxation Sounds skill. My personal favourite is Campfire or Jungle Night Sounds. Sleep tight!
9. Good old fashioned advice.
What are Mums best at? Life advice! Thanks to the Mom Says skill, Alexa can turn into your Mum for those nuggets of wisdom you always end up needing twenty times a day.
Although Alexa can make life a lot easier – she didn’t clothe you, feed you, and wipe your butt for years. Alexa didn’t put you to bed and kiss you goodnight, or make you a cuppa on those crappy days. Quite frankly, Alexa wishes she was your mum.
So worship your mum this Mother’s Day because no one does it better. Be the Alexa to your Mum’s commands.
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