For Sitel Group and our digital consulting partners at The Social Client, there is no doubt. The future of customer experience involves bots.
Today, 55 percent of internet surfers use instant messaging daily. For the millennial generation, web chat and social media are their primary contact channels. Within five years, we believe up to 80 percent of our activities will have migrated to conversational services. Already, of the five most downloaded apps, four are instant messaging ones.
If messaging is about to steal the lead from every other communication channel, chatbots are providing brands with huge opportunities to enrich, or reinvent, the customer experience. They are, in essence, the natural extension of virtual assistants. In a context of racing digital evolutions, chatbots are a new, more modern form of customer assistance – one in which we must without question invest in. Only by being agile and experimental can a brand remain at the cutting edge of technological innovation and ahead of a market that ceaselessly shifts.
Several years ago, virtual assistants, or dynamic FAQs, were already forerunning bots and popping up on websites everywhere. Many of these have since become so popular they’ve blended into our virtual landscape. Before Siri, Cortana and Google Now, we had Lea at SNCF, Laura at EDF and Lucie at SFR. Chatbots are nothing more than this same assistance extended onto new platforms.
Bots must be integrated into our navigational and relational habits – not only used for fun. Therefore, it’s critical to understand our habits in order to develop bots best suited to them.
A bot must first and foremost be relevant in all the tasks it can perform, without aiming to pass itself off as an advisor. Our conviction at The Social Client is that a bot must always be devised in relation to the customer journey – by properly discerning when to activate it and clearly defining its purpose. Introducing a bot implies studying beforehand the customer’s issue by examining the context and typology of the customer contact. The, there are several essential steps in the bot’s actual development: examining the point of contact, identifying what induces service flow, analyzing the web traffic’s source and then working out the bot’s design.
“Bots are opening up all sorts of opportunities to improve our customer assistance,” explains Vanessa Boudin-Lestienne, Co-CEO and Founder of The Social Client. “We must not consider bots as tools but see beyond the tool to the kind of customer experience we want to deliver.”
Tests run by The Social Client have shown that 80 percent of users accept first level automated responses. What matters most is for the transition to occur seamlessly. Bots will streamline first-level interactions by qualifying and precisely routing these queries before they reach an advisor. The advisor will then follow-up with the time and expertise required for the more complicated issues. In addition, the advisor can recommend specific interfaces enhancing the customer journey. The advisor can also foster a relationship articulated around a customer’s interest – perhaps even passion. Bots can also thematically arrange customer queries into clusters helping advisors answer several customers at once by optimizing his/her work time while simultaneously organizing customer communities.
“Our navigation habits and activities are constantly evolving,” said Boudin-Lestienne. “Bots and messaging represent considerable added value for the actual quality of our future conversations.”
A new customer experience is materializing – one that is streamlined through the convergence of multiple interfaces.
Allowing the transfer of visuals, videos and live or even virtual and augmented realities, messaging has transcended the simple textual exchange. Today 68 percent of internet users take advantage of every interface and content format available to get in touch with a brand. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where someone introduces a video while chatting with a friend in order to show him a product he’s consulting and on which he’s searched for text and image-based information, then eventually places an order.
Additionally, 90 percent of people make a purchase in the 24 hours that follow a productive mobile search. As such, brands have every reason to make sure a customer stays where he is and deliver him all the personalized interfaces and content necessary to complete a purchase. Otherwise, the customer may wander the internet on his own for a wealth of information spread out over several different interfaces.
However, it is becoming increasingly complicated and costly for brands to be everywhere at once. They need to make the right choices.
Combined with messaging, the automation of first-level interactions lets customers get in touch with brands at any time and through any interface. Meanwhile, brands can appear where their customers already are through a convergence of these multiple interfaces on the same single platform.
If indeed other messaging apps (WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter) have this same convergence capability, only Messenger, with 1 billion active mobile users and 1.5 billion web users, can provide a cross-channel and cross-device experience with an unrivaled number of potential clients. More than any other messaging service, Messenger offers an evolving converging space that easily integrates every interface and new technology. The ease with which it is possible to develop Messenger bots, through built-in functionalities not requiring complex algorithms (carousels, action buttons, images) is why today Messenger chatbots are what everyone is talking about.
Thus, the convergence of personal and commercial exchanges in varying formats onto one continuous messaging thread and the seamlessness that bots guarantee that investing in chatbots is not only obvious but imperative to secure a leading position ahead of the market.