Customer retention, your damsel in distress. Automation, your knight in shining armour.
We’re all well aware of the benefits of automation, increased productivity, less manpower, reduced lead time and much more. Whether you’re in the business of selling products or services, automation can streamline your processes.
Thanks to the internet, we have an overwhelming amount individuals who hold the power to decide at any time, when and who they would like to transact with. Our products and services have so much reach that basically everybody with a smart device is a potential customer. Yes children as well. There’s nothing stopping a kid from begging their parents for something after they’ve seen it on their iPad.
It’s a business world we’re currently in that decades ago, businesses could only dream of.
But it also brings to light a topic and issue that today’s businesses are struggling with, customer retention and growth.
The reason for this is quite simple, the average consumer is now more educated than ever thanks to the amount and the accessibility of information available. Furthermore, globalisation has basically created one large market which has given birth to insanely competitive businesses. To stay relevant and alive, businesses now must strive to overdeliver and exceed consumers expectations. And now, consumers hold more power than ever before.
There’s now more pressure than ever before for businesses to keep customers happy (and wanting more) while also managing to increase their customer base.
Those same businesses from decades ago who would be drooling over the opportunities in today’s market? Probably not so much now.
But let the past stay in the past, we have today’s technology at our finger tips, technology that can automate our businesses and address such burning questions and issues.
Many see automation as a way of freeing up time and resources in a business. However, it should be seen as an opportunity. An opportunity to shift time and resources towards more meaningful aspects of the business.
Whatever you put your attention and time into, grows.
Maybe you have an employee who’s role involves addressing very basic and frequently asked questions on your social media pages. Instead, implement a chatbot that’ll be able to handle those simple questions and requests on your social media pages, automating that aspect of the business.
That same employee now has more time and resources to focus on the more meaningful interactions with customers. Maybe that’s completely dedicating themselves to sorting out a pressing issue a customer is having. Maybe picking up the phone and chatting to customers who have gone a bit quiet lately. Whatever it is that is important to the business at the point in time.
A simple automation tool such as a chatbot presents an array of opportunities for businesses to instead shift their attention and time on the things that REALLY matter.
Automate, automate, automate.
10 Chatbot Trends and Predictions for 2018
Chatbots had an absolute knock-out year in 2017 – it was the year that they went mainstream and saw widespread adoption from the top tech companies. But what chatbot trends will drive 2018? What improvements can we expect now that they are established and the toolchain around them grows? Here are my top 10 chatbot trends and predictions for 2018.
1. Voice goes mainstream
Voice apps are awesome. There’s no denying it – smart speakers became ubiquitous in Q4 2017. I personally bought about 12 for myself and for Christmas presents. Sales grew over 100% in Q4 alone last year. There are now 45 million smart speakers activated worldwide – that’s twice the population of Australia!
So now that we’ve all got one we’re going to see your favourite brands fight to become relevant in this post-app era. Skills and voices apps are going to become the norm if you want to connect with your customers, similar to how you’re not a desirable company if you don’t have an app. Those who don’t have apps should delve into voice apps instead of investing in yesterday’s solution. They don’t have to be crazily complicated, just solve a real problem you’re having. At Mayte, we created a virtual receptionist (video) as we don’t have one downstairs.
2. Natural Language Processing – NLP – will get (even) better
Natural Language Processing (NLP or sometimes NLU – Natural Language Understanding) is incredible technology that converts sentences into structured data – intents and entities – so that developers can use these to do things. It’s made possible by machine learning. Google, Amazon and Facebook have all released the smarts that power their smart assistants as a service so third-party providers can build on top of them. It’s how we built the virtual receptionist.
The cool thing is that these NLP models are continuously learning and continuously getting better. The toolchain is going to improve on the already impressive options that are in our arsenal (linked above) and your average developers will leverage them even more. This will be the fire that fuels my #1 prediction.
3. Automated call centres will be awesome
Given the advancements made in NLP (see above), automated call centres will become great again. Combining the incredible AI Voice generation, NLP and ‘serverless’ technology will allow enormous call centres to be trimmed down to a handful of staff. We’ve already preached the benefits of this to our clients where there are potentially millions of savings to be had by correctly automating their call centres. That translates to billions in Australia alone. I can only imagine the numbers in India.
There are a lot of sceptics – automating the call centre will reduce the customer experience. I actually argue the opposite. With zero waiting times, deep domain knowledge and consistency an automated call centre gives companies the opportunity to scale a one on one conversation with their customers in the thousands and millions. The system will continuously improve. And most importantly the new, A.I. powered customer rep will never get sick, never take a day off, always be calm and work 24/7/365 – without pay. Dream staff member.
4. Conversational interfaces in apps will take over
A conversational interface is essentially turning a process into a conversation. Chatbots are one form of a conversational interface – however, this isn’t limited to messaging platforms. Quartz app is a great example of delivering the news via an augmented, conversational interface. IKEA has also ditched the UI for a CI along with Neil – your news assistant.
I only see this happening more and more. The experience is so smooth, so natural and so streamlined when done correctly. All the cr*p is cut away and all that’s left is a pure, direct and efficient way of getting things done.
Messaging platforms have provided marketers with an entirely new frontier. We are still in the early days and 2018 will see a deeper push and bigger adoption as a method of marketing to customers. I’ve written plenty about how this will change the game, so let me leave you with a few statistics.
- Messaging app usage overtook Social Media in 2015 – 3 years ago
- A great email campaign see maximum 30-40% open rates and 2% CTR. Chatbots get over 80% opens and over 50% CTR.
- 89% of users prefer information discovery through bots than websites (AYTM, 2016)
6. Facebook will filter chatbots with personal conversations
This is probably a negative prediction, however, important for improving the experience for all. Snapchat has recently split sponsored posts with those from friends. Facebook has vowed to make your news feed friendly again. I can only see this trend proliferating across other social platforms as companies continue to fight for market share via the best user experience.
The downside of Messenger becoming another marketing campaign is that it is quickly going to be filled with noise. That’s why it’s important to deliver serious value with your chatbot instead of just putting together crappy marketing material.
7. Facebook will activate native payments
Messenger Payments are already in beta and I cannot wait for the shitstorm that will follow when they are released into the wild (F.U. Big Banks!). This is going to be absolutely HUGE for e-commerce. No longer will you have to jump out of Messenger where you already spend most of your time. You won’t even have to whip out your credit card. Goodbye my personal economic situation, hello future!
There has even been talk of cryptocurrencies being accepted as payment through messenger platforms. I, for one, welcome the decentralised future.
8. Personality will become more important than ever
What makes an interesting person? A personality of course. We even call bodacious celebrities “Personalities” so it goes without saying that we’re going to see an emergence of Chatbot personalities. We always consider a chatbot’s personality when we build one at Mayte – what do they think, feel and react to? The humanisation of a chatbot is important to improve the experience. More importantly, it allows humans to relate to them, create an emotional connection and re-use them in the future.
The world perceives robots as cold, dull metal. Society’s future sees them as lively, excitable and emotional. It’s the next obvious step.
9. Cross-channel support will become the norm, not the exception
Cross-channel support for chatbots is where the bot knows who you are regardless of where you chat. An example would be flipping someone from a marketing campaign on facebook over to your website. Now imagine you call later – you’d want the experience to continue right? The same chatbot should know your conversation and case history so it can be helpful. Continuity is important for a great experience.
Smooch.io is an industry leader in creating cross-channel profiles of your chatbot users and an essential tool in any serious developer’s kit.
10. Apps will continue to die off in favour of virtual assistants
App use has been declining for a while now with some ringing the death bells of the app economy. I am certainly one of them. I have purged all my apps recently and left myself with only those that I really, truly use. Even then, I have hidden them all from view on my home screen. I’ve started using chatbots to interact with my bank, read the news and even fit out my home. I only see this continuing.
The awesome part about a chatbot is that it can combine multiple apps into one experience. A client of ours recently asked to essentially create an app that had micro-apps within it. We opted for a chat interface for several reasons; save costs redesigning each UI, it’s future proof, it’s familiar and it is universal. Regardless of what app or service is being used, the interface is the same.
We’re obsessed with chatbots and how they can help businesses automate intensive tasks, open new sales channels and boost customer experience. What sort of problems or processes are killing your time? Chat to Lexi and let us know!