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Conversational assistants are transforming the way brands and customers communicate. Otherwise known as chatbots or virtual assistants, these AI-powered messaging tools let companies hold one-to-one conversations with their customers in real time, on a scale that is simply unprecedented in human history.
Over the course of a single conversation, a virtual assistant can answer a customer’s questions, provide more detailed product or service information, and narrow the conversion funnel — all while meeting the customer’s preferences and needs. What’s more, a conversational assistant can give its undivided attention to millions simultaneously.
As companies like ours work to solve the challenge of enabling better and more meaningful engagement between brands and their customers — while giving brands the ability to drive conversational assistant discovery — this extraordinary scale will only continue to grow. It’s no wonder that by 2020, the research firm Gartner predicts that chatbots will power 85 percent of all customer service interactions, with the average person having more conversations with a virtual assistant than ever before. Here are some crucial tips for developers to keep in mind:
Conversational assistants need a transparent, contextually relevant personality
In order for chatbots to be effective, their creators need to develop a unique, engaging personality that reflects the brand’s core values and goals.
For instance, customers inquiring about opening a business checking account probably don’t want to interact with a bank that uses informal language and traffics in sarcasm. However, this sassy personality was perfect for Rose, the conversational assistant at The Cosmopolitan hotel in Las Vegas.
While conversational assistants should strive for a vibrant, human-like personality, it’s important to be transparent by telling your users upfront with whom they are speaking.
Of course, a great personality isn’t enough reason for consumers to interact with a conversational assistant on its own. According to a survey from LivePerson, 48 percent of chatbot users don’t care whether a conversational assistant has a name or a personality so long as it solves their problems. From an end-user perspective, a good conversational assistant can deliver instantaneous answers to their most burning questions and even guide them through the product selection process. All this saves the customer time that otherwise would have been spent sifting through a brand’s website for the information they needed.
As an example, Allstar Kia has been using AdLingo’s conversational marketing platform to promote a chatbot that asks the user what kind of car they’re shopping for, and then provides options to learn more about the models that fit their search and later help them book a test drive.
Anticipate your customer’s wants and needs
A major benefit to having a virtual assistant is being able to glean valuable insights into what customers want, helping inspire stronger brand loyalty.
For instance, if a fashion retailer realizes that new customers are asking about its return policy, it might decide to make this information more prominent across all of its properties.
In fact, you can even ask customers questions of your own with the express intent of learning more about their preferences. As an example, a beverage company could ask customers to choose between new flavors and test packaging ideas. This two-way approach to customer relationships allows consumers to test out potential ideas and feel as if they are a real part of a brand’s journey.
Make the shift from customer service to “whole service”
With AdLingo, the utility of conversational assistants now extends beyond customer service. More advanced conversational assistants can be leveraged for discovery, product, and service offerings — and more.
That’s why it’s important to start building into your existing conversational assistant a holistic experience that meets the needs of everyone, from a first-time customer to a repeat and loyal enthusiast. Whether you are using an AI or live agent assistant, it should get smarter the more it talks to customers — anticipating their needs and finding ways to better meet their objectives. For example, if users seem to abandon your chat window after a certain question, your conversational assistant should be able to automatically shift to more engaging language.
No matter what, you’ll want to continue iterating on your conversational assistant tools. Only through a rigorous process of testing and learning can brands truly see the value of this exciting new marketing paradigm.
Stephanie Lyras is Head of Partnerships at AdLingo, a new platform within Area 120, Google’s incubator for experimental projects. AdLingo uses the power of display advertising to help brands deliver their conversational assistants to customers at scale. For more information, visit www.adlingo.com.
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