Okay this is a weird beginning to an article but work with me here.
The conventional way we tend to shop these days is mechanical and browse-happy. So, if you’re gearing for a particular style of bootcut jeans and go to this brand’s website, or that brand’s webstore, or Google and fish through results/advertisements…it’s choices, choices, choices.
On Amazon you’re shown a large variety of other options, sizes, colors, or products people tend to be interested in when they’re searching for bootcuts.
Whatever. It’s archaic. It’s the outdated digital version of old school retail, or even grocery. You walk in for one thing, but face hundreds if not thousands of other options.
Through bot technology this entire consumer process is going to become far more personalized and rewarding.
Here, I’ll quickly show you what I mean.
A Short Bot Story
Let’s imagine I head to the Macys website on my mobile device and am warmly greeted by a cute but classy-looking cartoon lady that Macys calls Sydney.
“Hi Matt, welcome back to Macys. How did that stylish pair of Madison dress boots work out?”
There’s no other options to click on. No menus. No graphics. No sales prompts or buttons or distractions.
Now, I could verbalize my reply, or type it into a single text box (yes there are plenty of emojis). We’ll say I’m driving home and opt to speak after verbally giving Sydney permission to access my device’s microphone.
“Great Sydney. They did the trick. How are you?”
“I just couldn’t be better, thanks. So how can I help you today Matt?”
And you get the idea.
I tell her I need some bootcut jeans to go with my new dress boots because I prefer business casual. Sydney helps me get the exact color/style and size I’m after for the best price, uses my previous purchase details to seamlessly complete the transaction, and lets me know they’re on the way along with an email containing package tracking details…or I can just return to the Macys website anytime and ask Sydney.
She’s not an app, Sydney in this scenario would be the doorway to Macys.com.
- How much money would she save the company?
- How would she increase Macy’s brand image?
- How much would she improve conversions?
Sound Far Fetched?
It’s not. In my opinion, this type of person-brand relationship is right around the corner. How do I know? You mean, aside from the fact my company Virtus Ventures could expertly design and implement a similar “chatbot” to improve the sales/marketing of a business within a few months?
You mean aside from the fact…Scientists Have Connected the Human Brain to the Internet for the First Time? (yes really.)
We could take this a step further, and ponder the viability of celebrity bot endorsements. So, instead of a classy looking cartoon lady in my example above, Macys designs a Robert Downy Jr. bot with his wit, humor, and most important…voice.
Who wouldn’t want to order their socks with the help of Iron Man?
My goal here’s to get you thinking about how bot technology and conversational commerce are going to revolutionize consumer culture. Not to mention the means by which we interact with brands.
Let’s dig into three ways chatbot technology is already improving revenue, expanding brand awareness, and streamlining customer service experiences.
Differentiating Simple Sales from Big Fish
Your bot can scale. Maybe right now your business is taking in 50 calls a day, 250 a work week, 1,000 a month. Maybe 20 of those monthly calls are big fish, or ideal customers/clients/users.
- How many currently fall through the cracks?
- How many are turned away because of long wait times or call backs?
Experienced sales staff can crush it when the iron’s hot, but imagine if you could actually capture 80% of those big fish while at the same time providing your common calls and inquiries with great customer service at the same time.
Nurture Leads 24/7
80%, did you know it’s the percentage of leads current marketing methods fail to turn into sales? Wow! That’s according to Marketo on their What is Lead Nurturing? page.
Try reading that page from the perspective of a bot. If you wanted to design one to nurture your leads around the clock, you’d want to give it as much information about your ideal leads as you can. The more the merrier!
- Account History: website browsing data, purchases, customer support tickets, etc.
- Demographics: work, income, location, ages, and so forth.
- Customer Behaviors: engagement, intent, the buyer journey, etc.
- Content Marketing: what are they consuming?
Truth be told, a human can only do so much. We can only utilize a certain amount of data at any one time, in any given moment. A bot can contain and instantly draw on all data at once to help it approach leads and nurture them the way they prefer.
Through machine learning (more on this below), bots get better/smarter. All that data is just data until it’s put into practice and your bot begins to build a database of its own. Speaking of which, that’s a perfect segway into personalization.
Improve Automation Conversions – Personalization!
How many automated emails have you deleted without thinking? How many automated website popups have you clicked away from by default? How many automated social media posts have you swiped past?
We don’t like cold un-personalized automation. No humans do.
Well, forgiving certain situations but not when it comes to building relationships. How many human beings can you hire to do nothing but nurture leads and build relationships with your ideal audience? Even if it’s 100, a single bot could do their work around the clock.
Most of what that bot will do is automated, but it can be designed to do it in a much more personalized way. From here we can start getting really complex. Instead, let’s talk a bit about how you make bots better.
Simple Ways to Improve Bot Effectiveness
Boom, you decided to have a bot built to service your brand. What are a few things you can do to help it be better, and get smarter faster?
Machine Learning with Best Sales Team
In any company, there’s sales. So who are your best performers? They should be a part of the bot-customization process because they know a ton about your ideal leads. It’s just they’ve never been put in the situation where they help teach a bot.
If you endow your bot with machine learning, or the ability to learn, then work with your designers to capture valuable data from your top sales performers and feed it to the bot – qualifying questions, ideal customer behaviors or triggers, pain points, and other key information.
Preload Pitch Content
If you build a bot that can facilitate orders or market your brand, then take the next step and give it as much pitch-based content as you can as well. The most effective way I know how to do this is to stage mock calls, or in-person meetings where your best sales performers can converse back and forth with people posing as different types of potential customers.
Then, you turn their natural language into scripts. And there’s no reason not to draw on your existing sales & marketing content. Capture your highest performing “copy” and format it for your bot!
Real Time Access to Customer Data
As I mentioned somewhere above, in an ideal world your bot will have real time access to all your customer-centric data – like Sydney in our scenario started with asking me about my previous purchase.
How many sales are influenced or impacted by customer service touch points? And how many of these touch points could be smoothed out or optimized by a smart bot? Here’s a good quote from the App Institute’s 2017 article on How to Use Chatbots for Improving Sales and Customer Service,
“Customer service focused technology is seen as one of the many tabs available in the field of solutions using Artificial Intelligence. The implementation of this technology makes it possible to solve about 95% of operation demands coming in via telephone or chat for corporate, website or social networks.”
95%, wow, that’s quite a statement. But it really depends on the level of machine learning you give your bot, or design it with. What do they say are some of the impacts? And listen, savings ARE revenue.
“This reduces service time by up to five times causing operating costs to fall by 66%. Obtaining a new customer is, on average, five times more expensive than keeping an old customer and a chatbot will definitely help win customer loyalty.”
I’ll go ahead and wrap it up here. My goal isn’t to go super-deep into artificial intelligence-fueled sales, but give you a rundown on the basics and get your mind churning with ideas. The question is, could chatbot software help modernize and digitize your business? If so, let Virtus know if we can help. Thanks for your time.
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