Chatbots With Personality
1966. That's the year the first “chatterbox” appeared. Fifty-two years later, chatbots are on the verge of completely changing the customer/retail shopping experience. Like site search in the 2000s, many of these emerging customer touchpoints are being automated using a combination of simple keywords and rules-based logic. On one hand, these messaging bots can streamline the most common inquiries and route your customers’ requests quickly, any time of day, without human bias in the interactions.
As the old saying goes, “there’s a app for that.” I think the same can be said for chatbots and how innovation, speed, convenience and low costs have spawned thousands of chatbots for virtually any type of information or interaction a consumer would want.
Oracle published a report in late 2017 entitled "Can Virtual Experiences Replace Reality?" More than 800 senior marketing and sales professionals across Europe, the Middle East and Africa were surveyed, and the results showed a strong interest in adopting chatbots. In fact, 80 percent of the brands surveyed said they planned on using chatbots for customer service within the next four years. However, only 36 percent of those respondents said they're already using chatbots, which is telling.
As a retail marketer, you can’t help but think about the future implications of the consumer experience and finding that elusive balance of automation and human touch. In the age of convenience and access, having layers of support that can scale is one of the greatest challenges for a brand.
The inflection point is when use, value and personality meet at scale. Scaling a call center, staffing stores and customer service desks are inherently cost and scale risks for any business.
Imagine a world where you designed your own brand personality in your chatbot? The technology learns your customers based on rich consumer data, rich behavioral data, and rich transactional data, then layers in a brand personality that doesn’t waver by what mood it's in that day. Chatbots don’t have attitudes, emotions of biases, unless you want them to.
“We're witnessing the death of the hostile concept of ‘the user’ and of ‘using’ a system, and instead see the emergence of a human design narrative of chatting or conversing with technology."
If legendary actress, chanteuse, comedienne and style icon Mae West was a user experience (UX) pro, she might now be famous for the chatbot design principle, "it’s not the bots in your life that matters, it’s the life in your bots."
Advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) have spawned chatbots for virtually any type of scenario. Below I’ve listed a few creative chatbots that are early stage, but can help you see the breadth of consumer value and interest.
Ruuh is an entertainment chatbot that focuses on humor, Bollywood, music and other forms of entertainment. She is English-speaking and was created for an urban Indian audience.
Cleverbot is a nonsense bot that seems to be collecting data. The conversations are weird and don’t seem to follow a normal pattern, but it’s fun to play with it. Cleverbot includes other bots: Eviebot, Boibot, PewDieBot, and Chimbot are available in the App Store.
Woebot is a therapy chatbot that tracks your mood, learns human behavior patterns based on your responses, and teaches techniques in cognitive behavioral therapy.
Insomnobot 3000 is a text-based bot. You send a text to its phone number and the bot talks to you when you can’t sleep. This bot is most active from 11 p.m. to 5 a.m.
CNN's chatbot gives you the latest news stories when you click on the Messenger icon on the new organization's Facebook page.
Answerbot is a Zendesk product that you can add to your customer support system. It uses machine learning to help answer your customer’s questions.
Kit is a virtual employee bot that assists merchants with many aspects of their day-to-day marketing tasks.
"Dom" is a messenger bot for Domino’s Pizza. Don’t want to call in your order? Users can now customize their pizza and order through a bot vs. a menu and traditional e-commerce flow.
Brands are figuring out the best way to use AI isn’t to replace humans, but to help them. Relegating digital agents to task-based work — e.g., sending out tracking numbers and shipping updates — is freeing up human capital for complex tasks, like handling customer concerns, dealing with special requests or building business strategies.
Human and machine are working in harmony to create a better experience for the customer.
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With more than 25 years of experience in digital marketing and marketing technology, Baker is an award-winning industry thought leader, columnist and speaker. He has held executive roles at publicly traded, leading agencies and marketing services providers including Razorfish, Targetbase, Agency.com and Acxiom. Direct Marketing roles at American Airlines and Franklin Covey as well as startups including Cordial, TwelveHorses, MindArrow/RadicalMail — a first generation rich media messaging company — and DigitalThink, the first eLearning Platform that went public in 1999. He has served as strategic advisor to various media and technology companies.
Baker is one of only three individuals to be awarded the MediaPost Lifetime Achievement award (in 2012) for his contributions to the digital marketing industry, and he was also the recipient of the DMA-EEC Thought Leader of the Year award in 2016 for his positive impact on digital marketing. He is a MediaPost “Email Insider” columnist and former “Email Insider” Summit Chairman and program director. His works have also been published in iMedia Connection, Internet Retailer, Adweek, Direct Marketing News, ClickZ, The Drum and Chief Marketer.