Think about how many brands your customers interact with daily through mobile applications. How many of these apps do you think they actually like using?
What if they could connect with all their favourite brands through just one single app?
It’s not uncommon for a consumer to download a brand app and off load it almost immediately if they are unhappy with the initial user experience. When this happens, the brand immediately loses the opportunity to interact with the consumer and to carry on a fruitful engagement. It is unfortunate that certain brands invest significant budgets on app development and marketing, only to have low levels of adoption. How great would it be if consumers could connect with all brands they engage with, through one single app?
This is now a possibility, thanks to the world of opportunities created by OTT messaging applications such as WhatsApp, Messenger and Viber. Over the past few years, these apps have been opening up their APIs so that they can be used by brands for business purposes. With a business account, a brand can get information from the customer or push information to the customer through automated chatbots or live chats.
Sri Lanka has approximately 22 million mobile users of which 13 million use smartphones. In terms of messaging apps, the country has a captive WhatsApp user base of about 10 million, in addition to 8 million Viber users and 6 million Facebook Messenger users.
Is it possible for a consumer brand to ride on the goodwill of these messaging apps and start reaching out to customers? Yes, of course. Think about it, if you already have an audience of 10 million users who have adopted WhatsApp and are using it regularly, it only makes sense to use this platform to engage with them. The fact that WhatsApp Business now offers a host of interesting customizable features which allow the deployment of a rather advanced interactive automated chatbot, makes it all the more exciting.
We find that technology isn’t the biggest challenge in developing a chatbot. Technology is constantly improving and there is always something new to offer customers. However, it is more important to identify how and where in the process you can use bots to improve the customer experience. If the customer doesn’t see or feel how the technology is helping them have a richer experience, it is very unlikely that they will be convinced to use it. You need to explore your business needs and pain points and see how this technology can serve as a solution for your business before you consider deploying it.
Here are some of the questions you need to ask:
It is also important to understand your audience, before you make your decision.
The next step would be to understand the different functions and tasks chatbots can perform for your brand.
In Sri Lanka, there are multiple industries that can truly benefit from deploying a chatbot. Here are some examples:
Let’s look at some scenarios where businesses from various industries have practically applied this technology to increase efficiency and enhance customer experience.
Businesses offering a service such as printing or packaging can answer queries using a messenger chatbot. Customers can inquire about an existing order, place a new order, re-order, request a quotation, find out about business hours of the store or get directions.
A business offering a customer service or after sales service such as maintenance or repair can use messenger bots to improve efficiency. For example, customers can request a customer service rep, report a fault, create a service request or get an update on the status of the service.
Ecommerce businesses can benefit from messenger bots, by offering customers another platform to engage with the brand and purchase products. Customers can enquire about product details, product availability, check on shipping options, and even purchase a product.
The healthcare sector can utilize messenger bots to take care of the initial interaction with a customer in terms of finding out a patient’s symptoms and directing them to the appropriate doctor. The bot can assist with setting up appointments, reminding patients of follow-up appointments, sending laboratory reports to patients, answering basic queries and providing information.
A messenger bot is a great way to showcase promotions and deals to customers, and convert bookings. It also means that customers can directly book with the hotel instead of through a third-party site. This benefits both the hotel and the customer, as the third-party booking commission is waived off.
Personal banking queries and support services can be conveniently handled by a messenger bot. Customers can receive transaction information, check account balance, or apply for credit cards and any other financial service.
The business can receive raw messaging data, including insights on sent, delivered, read, failed messages; details of when the customer bounced off the chat, etc. This type of business intelligence allows the brand to make changes to an existing campaign or set up a brand new campaign.
This technology can effectively become a value differentiator for your brand when deployed successfully. Our recommendation is that you look at this as another channel in your arsenal of digital tools to increase efficiency and significantly improve your customer engagement.