These last couple of years, the arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) has allowed for some big innovations in several domains.  Marketing has been no exception.  With the development of chatbots since 2017, conversational marketing never ceases to progress in terms of customer relations.  These conversational robots have become a major asset for any business. 

Their areas of applications are very vast as they can be used just as well in the fields of e-commerce, banking, human resources or hospitality.  Its uses are consequently varied as well as the kind of support they offer as these bots can be integrated into instant messaging applications or on your website, allowing you to go out and find your consumers wherever they may be. 

According to a study done by the Capgemini Research Institute, of the 100 best businesses in the banking and insurance sector, 49% already have chatbots running, 23% of them in the consumer goods sector and 15% in the automotive industry. 

Three years from now, 70% of consumers will replace their visits to their sale agent at the shop or the bank with one of these types of assistants.   

Between outbound and conversational, the use of chatbots is becoming an indispensable tool of marketing. 

Table of Contents 

What is a Chatbot?

A contraction between chat and bot (from the work robot), chatbots are conversational agents allowing to simulate an interaction with humans.  In terms of marketing, the chat bot can easily be integrated into applications such as Messenger, Slack, WhatsApp, or even work in e-mail, SMS, or additionally straight on a website. 

Various kinds of chatbots exist at this moment: 

  • Linear chatbots

o   For which a script is drafted first and whose answers are then limited to predefined stages

  • Non-linear chatbots

o   They can process natural language, but have restricted numbers of stages.  These more limited kinds of chatbots are easy to develop, but quickly reach a certain limit from the point of view of the client.  However, it still has the advantage of guaranteeing a certain control on the bot who sticks to the script without deviation. 

  • Contextual chatbots

o   They are the most interesting since they rely on machine learning and so with time, having conversations with humans, will adapt and progress in their interactions. 

On top of being excellent marketing assets, chatbots allow for multiple kinds of use, including in the medical field, with bots that serve for example as detectors of psychiatric pathologies or to accompany insomniacs.  On their side, L’Oréal had a go with artificial intelligence using a bot to help their human resources team and their recruitment process. 

As the ultimate proof of success for these little robots, there already exists numerous bot stores, such as BotList for example. 

 

Nevertheless, to redirect the conversation to the entrepreneurial use of chatbots, it is important to note that these agents of conversation have the capacity of automating your customer service or even your FAQ, but also to increase your rate of conversion. 

What benefits for your company?

There are a great deal of advantages linked to the implementation of a chatbot for both a company and its consumers.  Contrary to a team of humans working in a call centre, the bot is available day and night, at whichever moment, and does not know anger nor fatigue.  No more never ending calls on hold for those clients who receive an answer at any moment, anytime. In a nutshell, an efficient management of CRM.  

Customer loyalty and brand image

 In general terms, conversational marketing responds to the needs of speediness from the consumers, all whilst improving the customer relationship as it allows for a real time service.  What is true for your customers, is also true for you, because a happy customer is a customer that comes back…The performance of the chatbot is then translated by a better view of your brand, as one that is more effective and responding efficiently to their needs.  This kind of interaction, once it plays out well, would therefore lead to customer loyalty. 

A better understanding of consumer-to-business

 This exchange turns out as beneficial to both parties.  As a matter of fact, businesses and consumers benefit from a better understanding of one another.  According to a report by the Capgemini Research Institute, close to 58% of businesses having used a bot estimate that the benefits gained by its use “were up to or surpassed their expectations”. 

Furthermore, the good use of a bot results in a certain proximity with the user, which leads to a positive brand image but also potentially on the customers’ behaviour.  The latter rarely have the occasion to talk directly with businesses, something that is now possible.  But there is more!  A chatbot can also become a source of precious information concerning the improvement of products or services offered by your company. 

Outbound marketing: join the prospect where they are

 Additionally, thanks to the approach of outbound marketing, your brand is present there where your prospect is, which in turn facilitates interactions.  This allows you to reach the client at any time, in their own environment, as opposed to some applications, sometimes deemed outdated, when we know that a mobile user only uses on average two or three applications and that there is a decrease in acceptance rates of push notifications. 

For the user, this simplifies things as well.  There is no more need to use up storage space by downloading apps.  Instead, everything they need can be found in a single conversational space.  Moreover, it is easier to send a notification directly through the chat than to use an application where it is difficult to mobilize the consumer. 

From a practical point of view, this process also has the advantage of allowing both parties to keep a trace of their conversation and therefore ensure a better follow up of their demands.

 

KLM is an example of success with BB (Blue Bot), it’s artificial intelligence bot that allows for handling reservations, asking potential questions and proceed with check-ins.  Set up on Facebook Messenger and Google Assistant, BB has taken care of 15,000 cases of customer service per week.

 

On BB’s site, KLM highlights the possibility of human assistance if need be, a reassuring note for potential users. 

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Some inconveniences

If the advantages of these chatbots are undeniable, there is also a flip side with a few inconveniences.  Poor use of a conversational agent can be fatal for a business.  By not using the service properly, it can lead to customer dissatisfaction and as a consequence, a poor brand image.  

Machine Learning

Artificial intelligence improves and learns over the course of time through different conversations, which can just as well be a good thing as a bad one.  Indeed, this aspect is a double-edged sword.  In some cases, the algorithm can be influenced by poor conversations, which can take a completely negative turn.  

This was a scenario that happened at Microsoft in 2016, with its artificial intelligence bot Tay.  It all went south not long after its launch, and at the end of the day, she started mentioning things of a racist and misogynist stand point.  This of course created a pitiable image of the Microsoft brand and the bot was swiftly taken offline. 

This example speaks volumes of just how artificial intelligence can turn if inadequately controlled. 

Gathering of personal information

Chatbots can also collect and utilise their gathered information during conversations with users.  According to the Capgemini Research Institute report, almost half of the users of vocal assistants and chats are willing to give their information for a greater personalisation, but also a large majority expressed concern in regards to security of their personal data.  

It is important then to demonstrate transparency and guarantee a certain level of security.  Within the European Union, the RGPD law guarantees the protection of personal data.  It is therefore important to respect it and be cautious with the way in which you collect and utilise this data, something that must be talked about with your bot provider.  

Humanisation of the bot and the robotisation of tasks

Clients are touched by a chatbot they can relate to on a human level.  According to Forbes magazine, the rate of purchase is reduced by 79.7% if the user realises they are conversing with a robot as they are perceived as less empathetic and less knowledgeable.  To succeed in this task, it’s important to incorporate a hint of humour, irony and a contextual comprehension into the bot to make it as “human” as possible.  Some specialists even ask themselves if the chatbots should have their own personality.   

Just like the evolution of AI, machine learning and its technological advancements bring a gradual replacement of humans with robots.  Marketing is no exception to the rule.  By automating certain tasks, certain jobs may become at risk over time.  Call centres make up a part of these work environments that undergo radical changes or disappear entirely.  Those who are more optimist will say however that these jobs will simply change in nature and that robots will merely come as an aid to the work that needs to be done and that humans will be able to focus on other tasks.  They are in fact coming in as additional help to humans by filtering certain customer queries, which in fact saves time. 

Conclusion

 Setting up conversational marketing has become an indispensable technique to get closer to clients.  Thanks to the implementation of a conversational robot, it is possible to increase the rate conversion, to increase customer loyalty by going to look for them in their own space, on messaging platforms.  This is a major asset in comparison with expensive applications that tend to be used less often.  In conclusion, if used properly, chatbots can represent a serious opportunity for your business.