What are the Key Success Factors of a Messaging Bot?
The Age of the Customer is upon us, and with it, the sources of power for businesses have changed. Your own power as a company now comes from engaging with empowered customers, making the key contenders in this decade businesses like Facebook and Apple who have always encompassed the connection to customer experience within their brand. Moving out of the Age of Information, previous leaders such as Amazon and Google are left to diversify and create business transformation to stay relevant and competitive. The advances that we see in technology and the projections for the future are all focused on making a better customer experience, and creating the ideal environment for engagement.
The journey of mobile apps has been quick and impressive, with apps taking mobile from web browsers through to an entirely mobile-native experience. Mobile apps now truly make the most of smartphones capabilities, including elements such as real time notifications, click-to-call functionality or GPS tracking. There’s hardly a situation where a consumer can’t make use of Apple’s well known tagline, “There’s an App for that!”
But across platforms, the app stores are crowded, and each app has varied success with providing a user experience and an interface which makes sense universally and creates satisfied customers. Apps take time and sometimes money to download, they take up valuable space on your mobile phone, and crucially-are often only relevant once a month or even less.
Enter Bots. Messaging Bots are accessed via our favorite messaging platform which we are comfortable chatting on and used to using. They need no additional download, and we don’t need to get used to a new interface to benefit from them. They take up no more room on our devices, and can be interacted with in the same way we might chat with our friends. At first glance, they certainly sound like the perfect solution. But if you’re thinking about integrating them into your customer service strategy in the Age of the Customer, here’s what you need to know:
Simplicity is Key
Using a bot needs to be simpler than any other channels available to satisfy the customer’s need. If you can simply send off a line of text and get the answer you’re looking for about opening hours or product price, that’s efficient and likely to encourage customer engagement. But if your Bot relies on scripted answers and can’t use context to fill in gaps or get the query answered the first time around, your consumers might well wish they had simply picked up the phone.
While intelligent Bots are fantastic for answering short questions (How much is next day shipping?) or ordering a repeat purchase (My usual order of 10 sleeves of Nespresso pods, please), longer text conversations exemplifying more convoluted needs might be better supported by other channels. Consider encouraging your customers to engage via Bot and then complete the more complex elements of their queries or transactions via app, phone, or web browser. This way Bots fit seamlessly into your omni-channel strategy.
The sophistication of Nanorep’s virtual customer assistant enables the bot to have continuous conversations and understand natural language, but even so sometimes the system realizes that the customer is better served by being rerouted to another channel. In these cases, our solution is able to transfer the customer to a human-assisted channel or another touchpoint, even to act as a meta-bot and task other bots with a specific function, like transferring funds or completing a purchase.
While the future will likely see us self-serving completely through full-service Bots with astonishing capabilities, the current landscape requires smart use of a rules engine with which businesses can determine how to route which kinds of queries and customer needs to which channel.
It’s Essential to go Across Messaging Platforms and Connect all Touchpoints
Messaging platforms have now surpassed social media in terms of monthly active usage. The vast majority of smartphone users chat via messaging platforms daily, and most of those use more than one. If Bots are really going to make customers lives easier, the business and developers need to utilize cross-messaging platform tools so that the user can find the answers they need without feeling frustrated or elongating how long the process takes.
A single centralized database means that all interactions can be found quickly and easily, no matter what channel they were initiated on originally. Customers don’t need to try to figure out whether they had a conversation via email, on Facebook or Whatsapp or Slack, or from their mobile, whatever the content they’re remembering, it can be accessed by both customers and staff alike from any channel and across all messaging platforms.
Think about how much extra time is spent managing and maintaining apps for multiple platforms such as iOS and Android. The last thing you need is to be doing the same thing for your Bots across messaging platforms. You need to ensure that all channels can access one centralized database.
Expectations Must be Met
Consider what service you’re trying to provide with your Bot. Is your bot single-action, like a Bot which provides opening hours for a store, or can schedule a meeting? While these are useful, they need to be marketed correctly so that users know what to expect. If a Bot asked “Can I help you with anything?” and its ability is limited to one or two tasks or key pieces of information, the customer is likely to end up disappointed. Consider using language like “Would you like to schedule a meeting?” which manages expectations from the outset. A disappointed customer is not likely to try again.
You need to strike a balance between providing a full-service Bot which meets the customers’ expectations (perhaps from using your app or website in the past) and the time it will take you to market, create and manage your offering. Your Bot can and should represent your business, so take the time to think about what that means. Rather than a Bot that does one thing, for example tells customers their order status, aim to offer a good-sized portion of the ideal, (everything your business does) and plan to implement more in the future.
One good way to manage user expectations is to create ways to measure and track user intent at every stage of their journey with your business. As VentureBeat advise, “This may take more than the simple automated responses that a lower-tech bot can provide and may require a messaging platform that is integrated with customer records and leverages powerful automation, analytics, and integrations.”
Routing You to the Right Channel to meet your Needs Has Inherent Value
Bots continue to solve many of the most frustrating customer problems, such as lengthy wait times, or providing quick answers to simple questions on a familiar and omni-channel platform. But they can’t solve everything, and they aren’t meant to.
While businesses should be making the most of Bots to engage with customers and find success in the Age of the Customer, this also includes knowing when to channel consumers elsewhere. Perhaps you’re being faced with customer frustration or anger, or a complex issue which needs human support or clearance. At first glance it might feel like the Bot has failed. On the contrary. Using Bots here can be another type of win for this kind of digital support. Imagine your Bot seamlessly inviting a human member of staff into the conversation who has all the information on hand to solve the issue, or getting the customer on the phone with the right agent who has the perfect skills for this situation. You’re creating a happy and satisfied customer.
When Intelligently Planned and Executed, Bots are Key to Successful Self-Service
Bots are an exciting new way to engage and chat with your customers and solve many of the problems which apps have fallen prey to in recent years. Knowing what you want to create, managing customer expectations, and ensuring you provide a simple cross-messaging, omni-channel experience are the key elements to consider for success.