Chatbots are all the rage, and are bringing new meaning to robotic marketing. Some marketers speculate that chatbots – the AI messaging technology on e-commerce and company websites that communicates with visitors in real time – will take over email communications with website visitors, leads, and customers. Many have already heavily invested in the shiny, new, exciting technology. But is it really worth the hype?
Chatbot technology can be useful in customer service instances or for simple inventory guidance on e-commerce sites. The automated services fall in the AI (artificial intelligence) category because they’re programmed to devise answers based on questions customers ask, simulate human conversation, and “learn” from interactions with human speech. But the extent to which the technology is useful to a company may be overrated.
The thing is, although lots of companies are using bot technology, consumers still prefer email. At least that’s what was revealed from Adobe’s 2017 Consumer Email Survey Report.
61% of consumers preferred email over any other method of communication, specifically communication involving offers. The caveat? Make sure that the emails are optimized for mobile! There was nothing consumers found more annoying than email content that would load slowly or was difficult to view on their phones.
What percentage of consumers preferred chatbots, you ask? Only 1%. To the poor AI guy’s defense, the technology is new, and still in the infant stages of development. Chatbot technology is not developed to the point where it is good at closing conversions.
In some situations, chatbots offer an efficient and low-cost option to dealing with simple lead interactions. They offer live help and contact that other modes of communication don’t, but human sales reps are usually still needed to close a deal or provide final support. The technology is still growing, so it’s real potential is yet to be determined. Right now, customers still like the flexibility and non-intrusiveness of email, so don’t think you can toss you email efforts to the roadside just yet.
Some forms of AI does have a viable place in marketing and customer relations at the moment, like in customizing email content. Since consumer inboxes are filled to the brim with branded content, AI can help sort out which kinds of content is actually useful to consumers and is more likely to be interacted with, or it can work as a powerful tool in data-collection.
Customer relations experiences can also be improved with AI and bot solutions. Some brands are using Facebook Messenger in particular to personalize customer interactions. Bots don’t have a place in every communications channel just yet, but using them in their rightful place for the right consumers can certainly give you a leg up on new ways to interact effectively with consumers on their own terms.
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