In our last Great Marketing Minds post, we asked a few of our favorite experts in Digital Knowledge Management to discuss how they see the evolution of AI-driven discovery services impacting the importance of brand persona. Today we asked them their thoughts on chatbots.
There's a lot of speculation that voice will become the dominant interface for chatbots, and that they may eventually feature directly in the consumer search experience. Are chatbots something your team is thinking about today?
Lily Ray, SEO Director, Path Interactive: Over the past few years, many of our clients have found live chat to be an invaluable method of driving more high-quality leads and better customer service experiences for their users. A natural result of our clients integrating with live chat has been a desire to automate this process, and to lessen the burden on their customer service teams, especially as customers grow to prefer live chat as their primary method of interacting with companies. Therefore, beyond leveraging the [canned response] functionality built into most live chat programs, our team has begun exploring chatbots as a new way to create efficiencies and to improve the customer experience. We have recommended tools such as MedChat, which uses artificial intelligence to learn common questions asked by users and to provide uniform, high-quality answers to users automatically.
We also recently won a Search Engine Land award for "Best Enterprise SEO Campaign" for a client that leverages artificial intelligence technology to interact with its users. This highly reliable chatbot technology has allowed us to drive huge amounts of organic traffic to the site without sacrificing user experience — every user who arrives at the site is able to have his or her questions answered by our client's technology, and without delay. Plus, for every new conversation the bot has with a user, its answers become even more accurate. It's a win-win for both our client and its customers.
Eric Enge, General Manager, Perficient Digital:
Text-driven chatbots have one big advantage over voice platforms, and that is that they don't have the speech recognition step. In the world of voice-driven personal assistants, we still have a pretty high error rate in speech recognition. For that reason, you need to think about chatbots as well.
For many brands, text-driven chatbots will come first. 1-800-Flowers, for example, is doing quite well with their chatbot within Facebook Messenger. So chatbots are an immediate opportunity for some companies. They can be particularly useful in customer service applications.
At Stone Temple, we're also investing some effort in these areas. We see customers building out chatbots and actively help them with their plans and the execution of those plans. However, in the longer term, I believe that voice-driven applications will be the big thing, and that they will become the dominant interface for chatbots, as well.
Christi Olson, Head of Evangelism for Search, Microsoft:
Yes. We believe that in the next decade every brand will have their own personal digital assistant (think of a Cortana/Siri/Alexa), that is the voice of the brand, to engage directly with consumers. Chatbots are a building block for brands to get to having their own digital assistant. Brands can start with a conversational chatbot to engage with customers, and over time evolve it into an intelligent digital assistant, by adding additional layers of cognition and cognitive services.
The idea of Digital Knowledge Management is key for any type of conversational agent — especially since knowledge (data and its various sources) are what power the intelligence that consumers engage with. For instance, if you have a call center, you can take all of the conversations that have been recorded and turn them into digestible data for your chatbot or digital assistant to learn off of and create a full conversational dialogue system. But in order for that to happen, someone at your company has to be responsible for understanding what data exists today and how to use it.
You don't want your brand to be represented by an unintelligent, unempathetic conversational AI. Tying the emotional quotient (EQ) to the intelligence quotient (IQ) and connecting it to my personal profile and behavior (CX) is the advancement in chatbots and consumer engagement that I'm looking forward to. When a digital assistant can understand my preferences, my history, and anticipate my needs — and maybe even my budget and finances — to help me manage my day to day.
Brent Csutoras, CMO, Peak Activity:
Initially everything was voice. And if you remember we even had a period of time when phones worked as walkie talkies, allowing real-time conversation back-and-forth without calls. Even now, we have voice record features that allow a much easier method of sending someone a message through our phones or chat programs.
While some people still prefer to speak on their phones, the vast majority of people want to communicate through written formats, such as texting for communication, social media to share events, and discussing orders and issues with companies through their chat and social media accounts.
Our actions say that we are still very much in a phase of wanting to solve the problems in our lives through a typing medium.
I think that in some regards, we will see chatbots utilize voice over text, but I would envision there chatbots to be dominated by text for quite some time.
Read more from Great Marketing Minds here.