No Need for Associates: Robots Are the New Salespeople
In 2010, Facebook introduced Messenger as a rebrand of the social network’s previous Chat service. You may remember when the company released a standalone Messenger app and then, much to the annoyance of users, made it mandatory to download the app to chat on mobile. Since that time, Messenger has won back consumers by introducing a slew of new features including enhanced groups, calling, stickers, apps, games, payments, and file-sharing. Of the most interest to brands, though, is the bot feature.
Rolled out to the masses in spring 2016, Messenger bots at first allowed users to ask simple questions such as store hours, inventory availability, and more (think Siri or Alexa, but without a voice). Companies began to utilize the bots for pretty straightforward use cases: a hotel chain could tell a user what types of rooms were available on requested dates, or a movie theater could list its showings for a particular film. These features were certainly helpful to consumers, but not much more convenient than googling or visiting the company sites. In addition, the idea of chatting with a faceless “robot” to get information seemed off-putting to many. At first it appeared as just another way in which our world was getting more impersonal. However, as the technology improved, it turned out to be just the opposite.
In the past, consumers who messaged a brand on Facebook had to wait for a support representative or other employee to see the message and take time to respond. Often that employee would not have all the info needed, causing the consumer to wait longer or receive inaccurate information. Put simply, casual chatting is not always the most appropriate way to communicate accurate business information. However, it is comfortable as “66 percent of consumers now prefer to [interact with] brands though messaging apps.” And that is where bots come in: maintaining familiarity for the consumer while ensuring accuracy for the business. It’s a win/win. Bots allow consumers to interact directly with a brand itself, forging a personal connection between the individual and the company while providing a comfortable experience backed by the brand’s knowledge and data. Let’s look at some examples to demonstrate this idea.
Sephora launched their branded Messenger bot, the Sephora Assistant, to streamline the experience for the countless customers inquiring about booking makeovers. The Assistant identified customer wishes based on message attributes and reduced the steps needed to book a makeover by a minimum of five (depending on which channel you’re comparing to). In addition, the streamlined experience was able to deliver an 11% higher booking rate for makeovers.
In a more supportive implementation, Aeroméxico created Aerobot to allow customers to do everything from discover and track flights, learn about baggage fees, and even check in. The bot became a true concierge to all things Aeroméxico, putting customer convenience first and providing instant insights into services and data. Aerobot responds to 35,000 people a month, and just 4% of the questions asked require an escalation to human agents for resolution.
So how can ecommerce brands utilize Messenger bots to drive sales, increase engagement, and forge a bond with consumers? The simple answer is that the possibilities are endless. Whether it’s to inform about unique products, check stock or shipping info on items, or even directly drive sales with integrated payment options, there are countless ways brands can use Messenger to meet their customer service and marketing needs and bolster the bottom line. Shopify even has a direct integration because of the importance of Messenger. At this point, utilizing a bot is a must.
How is your brand getting involved with chat technology?