Chatbots: Benefits & Limits

  • Chatbots in marketing: too soon?

In the last couple of weeks, a particular subject has been trending in the digital marketing sphere: chatbots. Used to increase engagement and re-imagine customer experience through messaging apps, they are an important part of the transformation marketing is going through.

Messaging apps have already surpassed social networks in their number of users worldwide and the utilisation we have of bots is widening: from the famous Judy Hopps Disney created for Zootopia to Sephora providing beauty tips or a simulation for Frenchmen of the amount of money to pay in taxes… there are endless possibilities and more and more platforms are starting to support chatbots. According to www.chatbots.org, the Web as a whole excluded, Live Messenger is the platform offering most bots while Facebook stands as far behind second.
That would make sense that this technology is becoming more accessible to smaller businesses now that it received well-deserved improvements. In fact, chatbots have been around for more than 10 years but the technology was lacking to make them completely usable. Now with the awakening of AI and its fast democratisation, bots are becoming a thing for many brands.
Last May, Microsoft, Google and Facebook were already focusing their efforts on the creation of chatbots that do more than just answering a question like “when are you open?” If you’re interested in knowing what kind of projects the tech giants wanted to see, here’s a video from Tech 2:

What people praised about chatbots is that they revolutionised the customer experience. But it’s not the only thing that they do. They can:
–  Help sell products and services
–  Make payments easier
–  Increase engagement and (re)affirm your brand’s identity
–  Qualify leads and gain customer insights

What is essential for companies that would want chatbots as part of their marketing strategy is the following points:
–  Their ability to handle a large basis of users
–  Their ease to implement (technically speaking – via toolkits for example)
–  The bots performance: fast delivery, good understanding, no bug, reporting of the customers and visitors activities as well as data safety

By the end of 2016, there were already more than 300 000 existing chatbots. And yet a regular visitor hasn’t seen that many online. Why is that?
First, the price of chatbots can be critical. According to Yoav Rimon, author for VentureBeat, it can go from $19/month for 15 bots and maximum of 2500 interactions (and estimating your needs can be tough) to $10000 per bot to fully develop a bot through a software company.
Then, there’s the issue of technology and user-experience.
–  Technology still has its limits; malfunctions in bots can be damaging to a company’s image and it still happens quite often that they misinterpret what a user asked for or simply don’t know what they meant.
–  Bots don’t solve a problem – they can indicate information or help to purchase a product but are limited when it comes to solving a more complex issue.
–  They’re not fully optimised. A messaging app holds a lot of information that is not necessarily used by the bot, forcing you to actually write down who you are, where you are, etc. Bots are meant to ease the experience including by asking for the least info possible.
–  The experience can seem “cold”, bots being, by definition, non-human. Laconic answers without personality might drive off some potential customers.

These limits in chatbots are however timed; in a couple of years, these issues will have been fixed. As for now, if you’re considering having a chatbot in the months to come, make sure you plan it right!

PS: If you like marketing news, why don’t you start chatting with Plus.AI (by I am Vasee) on Facebook Messenger? It delivers marketing news from 100+ blogs.

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