Forget the days when talking to a robot was just for nerds. Chatbots are here and they are making a run as the next big thing in marketing.
What is a chatbot you ask? Essentially, it is the personification of your favorite brands and companies and their respective products. More technically, it is an emerging technology powered by computational logic and, often, artificial intelligence, that you interact with via chat.
Just recently, I read an article about Shake Shack, a New York-based fast food restaurant, that launched a chatbot to answer 300 of its customers’ most frequent and burning questions, such as, “Where is the nearest location?” and “How late are you open?”
Now, I am sure you are wondering, can it can take orders as well? For that would surely be a dream come true. According to Phil Crawford, VP of Information Technology for the company, that is a feature that the company is looking into adding in the future.
As a California native myself, I pledge complete loyalty to In N’ Out in the age-old debate, but even I can admire the moves Shake Shack is making, and I look forward to the day when I can take my relationship with In N’ Out to the next level by chatting with its personified form.
This example of Shake Shack is merely one in many of how businesses are beginning to transform their marketing strategies from campaigns to conversations. With this new technology, relationships with consumers can be transformed from professional to personal.
With the number of global active users for messaging apps now having surpassed that of social networks, it should come as no surprise that businesses are pining for increased engagement with their customers through such technology.
Chatbots have already touched industries from fast food to accounting, sexying up the customer experience along the way. God knows that accounting can be pretty dull, but using a chatbot, global enterprise software company Sage was able to not only simplify the accounting experience, but make it enjoyable as well.
A more familiar example of chatbots falls in the area of customer service. If you have ever been on a website where a chat notification pops up asking if you have any questions, there is a good probability it was a chatbot designed to help you through your issue.
Regardless of your industry, chatbots can enable your company to literally (and figuratively) foster a connected experience with your customers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, as I write this article, for example, I find myself flipping between iMessage, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Slack, and Gmail — chatting with family, friends, and colleagues. The only connection I am missing is my dear, old friend In N’ Out.
As they say, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach — such is the case for my platonic love for In N’ Out. Similarly, with the rise of chatbots, the way to customers’ wallets is through their mobile phones.
While creating a chatbot for your company might seem like a daunting task, it does not have to be. Various companies are offering frameworks to simplify the building experience, such as Microsoft, whose Bot Framework was used by Kriti Sharma to put some pizzazz into your daily accounting as mentioned previously.
In the second season opener of Microsoft’s recently released DECODED show, Sharma specifically discusses her experience of using the Microsoft Bot Framework, and other developers go into detail about the actual coding involved in the process.
Therefore, I urge you, for unprecedented access to your customers, go forth and chat — or should I say, code?