A Blended Chatbot Approach to Brand Experience

Posted by Mitch Duckler
A Blended Chatbot Approach to Brand Experience | FullSurge

Artificial intelligence (AI) may indeed be the future of customer experience. But AI empowers us rather than threatens us with obsolescence; it’s clear that human support will remain vital to its success. In the first of this two-part series, we explored why chatbots are becoming the norm and the core considerations for brands when deciding on a chatbot strategy.

Human interaction has always been vital to a high-quality customer experience. Having a successful AI-driven customer service initiative will depend on the processes that support a blended AI approach where humans play a critical role in the ongoing optimization of AI. Here we will explore how, working with humans, chatbots can make experiences better by communicating with users in the places they already are.

Chatbots have great potential to change the way consumers interact with brands and purchases online, but this won’t happen until more bots are created with the goal of solving user problems throughout the customer journey. Bots that try to be too clever or impress users, but add nothing valuable to the brand experience, will undoubtedly fail. As a brand consultant I assure you, no one actually cares how ‘smart’ your chatbot is—they just want to enjoy a better user experience.

As technology catches up to loftier customer expectations, a blended AI approach to sales and customer service is the easiest way for most brands to implement AI. According to a recent Forrester report, human assistance is as valuable as ever, and “blended AI that efficiently uses human support will be a key player in customer experience” this year. It is not a “set it and forget it” technology. Instead, AI will require human input and employees to fill the gaps between promise and reality. Essentially, if you use chatbots to ‘eliminate’ human interaction, customers won’t appreciate it. But, if you use chatbots to ‘facilitate’ human interaction, that becomes a different story.

One of the most important value propositions of a good chatbot is delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, known as "intelligent messaging." Intelligent messages have two fundamental characteristics that facilitate understanding customers, their journeys, and behaviors:

  • Highly Valuable: Tailored messages that are so valuable your audience will be upset if they did not receive them.
  • Preventive: Messages that anticipate what you need and aim to offer a solution to a problem before it occurs. 

Humans’ Shifting Role in Customer Service: Meet Erica

Bank of America has begun its initial rollout of Erica, a chatbot that can help you check balances, remind you about bills, and answer your bank-related questions. It is expected customers will be able to interact with Erica via voice or text, and she will help with matters such as scheduling a payment or listing recent transactions, in additions to some predictive functions.

Consumers are increasingly comfortable interacting with digital assistants, and the technology is continuing to improve. In a sense, chatbots restore some of the personal connection that customers lost with the internet that made the banking experience more self-directed. Although you may be speaking to a robot, the service is designed to make you feel like you’re talking to a banker. This offers banks the ability to personalize the brand experience, but in a uniform way—a chatbot is not going to have a headache or a bad day.

Keeping Humans in the Brand Experience Mix

For truly optimized, seamless customer experiences, human assistance should not be eliminated. When customers have complicated questions, they expect to chat with human beings. As chatbots' design becomes more sophisticated in how they simulate human responses, they could replace human support one day. But for now, blended AI offers customers a perfect solution: the timesaving benefits of automated service combined with the personalized and detailed assistance that humans can provide.

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