Jeff Lesser, Twitter’s Head of Social Customer Service, at the recent Corporate Social Media Summit New York said that customer service is the top reason why people follow brands on Twitter. Using social for customer care provides users with personalized service and is a great opportunity for brands to improve their image. Personalized customer service is harder to create with chatbots and this has created a large resistance to their growing popularity.
What Exactly Are These Chatbots?
Chatbots, better known as bots, are computer programs that conduct a conversation with auditory and/or textual methods. These programs attempt to mirror the personality and knowledge of a human. Each bot has it’s own database of knowledge for navigating conversations and memory. Bots can function through rules or machine learning. Bots that operate with rules have limited capabilities and can only respond to specific commands, meaning if you venture into a topic outside the guidelines they won’t know how to respond. They are capable of understanding language and they learn trends to prepare for future conversations.
How Brands Will Use Them
Brands that recognize how much time consumers spend on messaging apps such as Facebook Messenger and Slack have developed automated messaging technology. In 2015 messaging apps surpassed social networking apps, and chat apps have higher retention and usage rates than most mobile apps. Increasingly it’s the case that to be successful online, brands must find where the customers are going, and that place is now inside messenger apps. Whether a brand is looking to drive website visits or promote a video, bots have the ability to drive awareness, interest and carry out marketing campaigns.
“…customer service is the top reason why people follow brands on Twitter.”
Jeff Lesser, Twitter Head of Social Customer Service
While the use of bots is unanimously known to be more efficient than employing full customer service departments, there are a few issues that keep bots from fully replacing humans just yet. Some consumers are uneasy about the idea of communicating with a bot pretending to be a human, and for good reason. Most bots that have been publically available have been failures. As demonstrated by Microsoft’s recent artificial intelligence-driven Chatbot named Tay, it quickly turned into a PR disaster. Tay was “designed to engage and entertain people where they connect with each other online through casual and playful conversation. The more you chat with Tay the smarter she gets.” Most brands are smarter than Microsoft to publicly release their bots before all the kinks are worked out, but this shows that brands are pushing to use this new technology.
Following the evolution of conversation technology from the telephone to the email, bots are the new wave of business interaction that marketers must be conscious of to stay ahead. As Bots allow consumers to instantly interact with the world around them through conversation, the day will soon come when people will want to engage with a brand’s bot.