In a world where conversation is key, intelligent technology is turning instant messaging into the next tool for deeper customer engagement.
Smart brands converse with consumers – it’s a core part of building trust, boosting brand image, and creating a positive user experience. The more tailored these efforts seem – and the more genuine they feel – the more effective they become. But keeping things personal when you have a potential audience of millions isn’t easy.
Brands today need a way to meet customers where they are and strike up conversations that enable whatever the user wants to accomplish. Chatbots make this happen, embedding within existing platforms and giving users an entry point for all kinds of engagement, delivered through perhaps the most tried-and-true interface we have – conversation.
A well-executed chatbot can drastically improve the user experience wherever it lives, but only if it’s built and integrated effectively. At best, bots can be a formidable asset. At worst, they can pester and disappoint the user. Getting it right starts with a team that gets the UX of chatbots, but even more importantly, deeply understands the people they’ll talk to.
Building for the IM Era
With the rise of instant messaging apps, most of us are engaged in one (probably more than one) conversation at any given time, which speaks to two things: our interconnectedness and our love of conversation.
It’s immensely valuable to have robust owned platforms, like websites and apps, where you can drive or attract customers (and which can also be excellent places to deploy chatbots). However, it can be just as valuable to extend your brand ecosystem into places where your customers already are, and be close to conversations that are already happening.
Brands today need a tool that thrives in the instant messaging era, and none are more tailored for it than the chatbot. Intelligent, automated, and lovably conversational, these AI-driven messengers allow brands to leverage the popularity of messaging platforms, through a method that feels as personal as a note from a friend.
Planning for Success
Not every business problem can be solved with a bot. When we’re helping a brand consider a chatbot, we’re seeking out the right combination of audience, technology, and business goals.
In particular, the sharp minds in our strategy team are looking to define a clear use case, and for the right set of conversation partners. We want to know which messaging platform or platforms our audience uses, understand how familiar they are with the technology, and how easily they might be persuaded to use it.
Equipped with that information, our team of strategists, UX specialists, copywriters, and developers come together to concept your chatbot and begin development. The team creates user flows for the tasks the chatbot needs to do, identifying the integrations required to make the chatbot work – does it need to be able to process transactions, or access informational databases, for example?
In creating a chatbot, voice is not just a brand requirement – it’s a pillar of user experience. Naturally, a chatbot needs to be clear, consistent, engaging, and brand-appropriate (like any other communication coming from your brand). But equally important is an understanding of the nuances and flows of conversation, stemming from a deep empathy for human users. Chatbots that deliver error messages in exactly the same tone as greetings are not much fun to interact with.
Our teams are decidedly close-knit and collaborative, making group decisions around content, tone and dialogue flows with creativity, careful planning, and a touch of humility in the face of the unexpected (which is the one thing that’s guaranteed when people interact with your bot).
A Continuing Conversation
We’ve been talking mainly about building a conversational interface (and glossing over the miracles of natural language processing and generation that make that possible). But the truth is we haven’t even begun to explore the full possibilities of a conversational interface.
Even today, these tools can do many jobs that once required visual interfaces or human intervention – answering questions for users, finding products, and generating sales. But as the AI powering chatbots grows more sophisticated, develops a more nuanced understanding of natural language, and integrates more deeply with data, this technology will be able to achieve things that no interface can do today. Needless to say, at BFM we’ll be watching – and building – with excitement.