Defining your chatbot strategy: a framework for customer engagement

Chatbots, while in its infancy, will revolutionise the customer experience, but they're not for everyone, says Daniel Cran.

In the past few years we have seen increased adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in consumer-facing technology, from Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now, Microsoft’s Cortana, Amazon’s Alexa (Echo) and Facebook’s Messenger Bots.daniel-cran-managing-director-apac-logmein-cropped

Advances in the areas of natural language processing, deep learning and machine learning more broadly have forged an exciting path for companies looking to add interactive smarts to their products and services.

But in the midst of these technological leaps, we are also seeing a desire to go ‘back to the basics’ with the power of simple text-based communication.

In this context, chat has emerged as a very engaging medium; not just for text happy teenagers but increasingly also for the way customers are engaging with brands online.

By layering AI on top of this, it is clear to see why businesses want to experiment with human-to-machine interaction via chat. But before you go out and jump on the bandwagon, there are a few things to consider.  Toy Robots

How can you start thinking about the applicability of this new wave of ‘Botification’ for your business’ customer engagement strategy?

Not all issues are chatbot friendly

Experts term our current level of advancement in the field of AI as Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI).

Think of instances where computers are now capable of flying planes under ideal weather conditions, beating out humans at chess or, more recently, Go. ANI implies that, at present, bots  are good at following narrow, tightly defined and routine instructions very well.

While they are more sophisticated than a phone Interactive Voice Response (IVR), bots still have a long way to go before substituting humans at every point of customer service interaction.

Not all customers are chatbot friendly, there are a number of customer profiles that still prefer a human touch.

ANZAC chatbot

News Corp launched a Facebook chatbot to allow readers to have a cxonversation with a World War I veteran on the Western Front

Not all interfaces are chatbot friendly either

Botification is the latest buzzword, but this does not necessary spell and end for ‘Appification’ or the need to a cram user interfaces with text boxes wherever possible. Each has its own purpose and is complementary, not exclusionary.

It is important to understand that many of these technologies will need some time and effort to mature within a customer service environment.

Machine learning requires training the AI with a large dataset – and then some. Pure rules-based bots are not readily scalable.

Hybrid approaches do seem promising but need to be fleshed out further. It is important that businesses are able to leverage knowledge within the human agents in a contact centre as well as the wealth of information within historical chat logs, and to constantly test, measure and adapt the experiences offered by these chatbots.

A final word

I would like to leave you with this analogy that my colleague Akhil Talwar, senior product manager at LogMeIn, likes to use with his customers.

Picture, for a moment, that you have a brick and mortar store with real human employees, and products and services for sale.

Also picture that your store has state-of-the art kiosks where customers can self-serve.

Now begin to think about which types of customers you would like to send to the kiosk, and which you would send to your best human staff.

What attributes differentiate the two customer groups? Where do you think you would have better control of delivering a superior customer experience?

Weigh up enhanced customer service against opportunities for cost efficiency? And let these answers help shape your strategy as you consider Botifying your customer engagements.

Daniel Cran is the APAC Director at LogMeIn


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.