Opinion

Bots are getting stuff done, but think before you jump on the bandwagon

From Facebook's suicide prevention bots to always-ready human-like chatterboxes, Microsoft Australia's Adam Goodman takes a look at where the weird world of bots is headed.

Bots have come a long way since being introduced as an efficient way to index websites. 

Already, bots are taking over countless tasks across multiple industries, from analysing medical history to detecting engineering issues. Facebook has even dropped hints about the potential for bots to detect when someone might be at risk of suicide and deliver life-saving services.

Here in Australia, we have a special fondness for our messaging apps: 11.8 million of us use them daily, sending and receiving messages 15 times daily. Our use continues to grow, while our reliance on email, social media, and phones is in decline.

Consequently, chatbots are especially popular – even though we may not be able to exactly explain what they are. What matters is we use them to check our bank balances, order food, find gift recommendations, and even book tickets to the latest show.

The fact is, we are primed for bots. As consumers, we’re already using them, whether or not we know it. And as bots get smarter and more advanced, brands must embrace bots to drive business forward.  

Bots get stuff done

According to a study by iProspect and Bing, inside two years, consumers will be managing 85% of enterprise relationships without dealing with a human. Here are a few areas where bots are making a business impact.

In-the-moment customer connections

In an ever-connected world, consumers have come to expect fast responses. Chat and concierge bots enable brands to provide instant connections with customers at the time of need, without the cost of a call center and much more efficiently than a human. This saves businesses money and strengthens their relationship with their customers.

Seamless, intuitive services

While most app usage is in decline, time spent in social and messaging apps is on the rise. Bots enable brands to make instantaneous connections within messaging apps to provide seamless, contextual task completion.

Richer, more customised search

Bots can deliver a richer, more personal experience than simple search as well as data insights that inform consumer interactions across multiple channels, leading to increased marketing ROI and impact.

Digital assistants

The number of people using digital assistants like Cortana and Siri is continuing to increase. Advanced voice technology gives digital assistants insights into our needs, preferences, and intent. As digital assistants learn more, they are able to complete simple tasks on our behalf, such as ordering a specialty coffee at Starbucks or restocking household items like toothpaste. This is a great opportunity for brand loyalty.

Build a better bot

Before you jump on the bot-bandwagon, there are a few things that you should know. Bots need to be done right. First and foremost? Think about your customer’s needs and how the bot solves a problem, how it will be used, and where they can find it. Once you know what your bot will do, make sure it has the following features.

Human-like

As mentioned earlier, oftentimes we don’t even know we’re engaging with a bot and we like it that way, especially when it comes to chatbots. A bot must have human attributes. It must interact in a natural way, using natural language. It must trigger emotion.

Ultra-personalized

Consumers have come to expect a customised, one-to-one marketing approach. Bots must transform search into personalised experiences and deliver recommendations and information that reflect intent and personal preferences. Bots must anticipate customer needs and behaviours.

Always at the ready

  1. Bots must be useful and super easy to use. It must be intuitive and seamless. And, because search is such a critical part of the entire decision journey it must be available every time on every device on every channel to be the most useful.

Are you ready for the rise of the bots?

Adam Goodman is an audience marketing lead at Microsoft Australia. 

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