Chatbot. It’s the engagement “war-cry” of the moment. Since 2016, there are more than 100,000 chatbots on Facebook Messenger alone. That’s up 233 percent from the 30,000 bots on Messenger six months after the feature’s launch in April last year. Enterprise brands are quickly adopting and offering conversational interface, via voice or text, to customers. Chatbots work as an excellent solution for filtering customer service queries for simple answer responsiveness and for automating internal tasks to better access and organize data. The benefits are apparent — but so, too, is the ceiling for what chatbots are currently capable of executing (though, with the current focus on growth, it’s predicted that chatbots will be “indistinguishable from human interactions” by 2029”). That’s to say, those ceiling will soon be history.

But are your customers ready to interact with chatbots? Almost 60% of customers say they’re “more likely” to buy from a brand that “recognizes them by name.” Even more become annoyed at any irrelevant content or blasts that isn’t personalized. The obvious strategy, of course, is to ensure user and conversation flows between a customer and a chatbot are highly attuned to personalization: recall of any past purchase history, offers based on purchases and customer success avenues to support your customer in using your product, or engaging in responsive feedback. But there are key determinants to mark prior to moving forward with a chatbot strategy for your business. If you have these fundamentals in place, you’ll have clarity that your customers are ready to engage with your organization’s chatbot:

1. Do You Have a Defined International vs. National Market Engagement?

Asian consumers are currently much more likely to engage with and enjoy chatbot interactions. In fact, conversations in China average 23 conversations per session for their popular chatbot, Xiaoice. Compare that with the an average of 2 (CPS) normally and it’s an easy tell that market location is a clear indicator for a higher level of engagement.

Strategy: Global brands can employ a regional strategy to test market interactions. Target regional ads, segment social media by location to better personalize both your product benefits and cultural cohesiveness; national and international product pages for Facebook are a normal segmentation for many companies and an excellent way to test chatbot engagement.

For companies that market nationally: understand your customer’s most prevalent patterns of engagement and where chatbot interaction isn’t just a benefit it’s “the” best tool for customer satisfaction.

2. Are You Using the Right Analytics to Determine Customer Patterns of Engagement?

Currently, any channel your customers use you can provide them with a chatbot experience. That’s both a fantastic opportunity and a recipe for misapplication — and missed opportunity. You may have high engagement on one social channel and it may seem like a good starting point to build out and offer a chatbot.

Strategy: Before moving forward, make sure you’ve audited the following:

  • Does engagement here equal conversion? Engagement has steadily increased on Facebook and it remains as the most engaged with social channel. Determine whether lead generation or direct conversion, where your customers direct click through rates to products and services, result in purchases.
  • Are your mobile and desktop engagement unique? User-behavior can vary widely — and by demographics. If your market is Millennial and Gen Z, mobile-specific behavior patterns are crucial to understand and to leverage for wider conversion.
  • What is the most compelling reason for engagement (on each channel)? Are you offering regional promotions, responsiveness in customer service answers or appointment scheduling? Lead generation with lower levels of direct conversion can be indicative that the right chatbot strategy can increase conversions.
  • Know and track your KPIs. Most companies, 74%, that weren’t surpassing revenue goals did not know their visitor, lead or sales opportunities. Again, make sure to track acquisitions channels to reconcile whether engagement equals conversion and where the highest conversion rates exist.

3. Do They Want to Share, Want to Shop, Want to Inquire?

If your customers are consistently using one or more channels to shop, share or send inquiries, employing a chatbot can create a greater level of customer satisfaction. Of course, this is broad, and most consumers want to do one or all of these. But if there’s a specific pattern to product ordering, or specific orders, sharing or inquiries, a chatbot is the next step.

Sharing product information or brand promotions and news is an easy task within a messaging app and the social share creates increased buy-in for leads and visitors. Likewise, most consumers say they are likely to make purchases via a chatbot offer or exchange, particularly because this experience can be more personalized and easier to locate products and services especially personalized for each customer. Immediate feedback that’s relevant to a customer query is one of the most obvious reasons to start employing a “chatbot experience” within your customer strategy.

Strategy (Not all Chatbots are Created Equally): Work with experienced developers to customize a solution that offers the highest level of attention to user and conversation flows. The more attention to detail given to functionality the better customer experience your visitors will have.

  • Be specific about user needs and conversation flows. The more your bot leads a customer through the experience, the better the experience.
  • Continue to fine-tune these upon launch.
  • Track analytics to create conversion goals and user engagement.

On the whole, consumers are ready (and waiting) for you to continue to up your game in immediate and excellent experience. A chatbot experience, if done poorly, is (no fun) and worse than not providing one. If you’re deciding on how to move forward, if your customers need a simple answer, and you consistently received these questions on a particular channel (or all), start there and move forward with more advanced experience solution after.

Published on Oct 3, 2017