Conversational AI's role in future of MarCom: Aakrit Vaish

Authored by Aakrit Vaish, CEO and Co-founder - Haptik

Interaction, information collection and data analysis: three things have defined the role of the marketer conventionally. Defined by how much of an effective communicator he/she is, a marketer’s success relies upon how strongly can a connect with a large number of consumers be established to make everyone feel personally attended to while serving the organizational goals.

With the arrival of Artificial Intelligence, much like everything else, even the marketing function is being revolutionized. According to a 2016 study on AI in Marketing, 80% of marketing executives surveyed were certain of AI’s considerable influence in the domain by 2020. The rise of conversational experiences or chatbots is one such area which, fuelled by AI-assistance, is becoming the modern marketing manager’s newest ally.

Chatbots essentially perform the task of being virtual assistants and have one-on-one conversations with customers to ultimately build long-lasting relationships. Much like the voice-assistant in the movie Her, a chatbot can offer personal attention to a large set of customers simultaneously thereby providing a higher level of engagement and connect. According to a Harvard Business Review report, answering queries within an hour generates 7X more likelihood of converting a lead.

Marketers also need to evaluate the ROI on maintaining a team of agents and spending on their training, evaluation etc. to the cost of a one-time investment in chatbots. Given the scale of operations, the consistency of engagement, flexibility and accessibility, any marketer stands a higher chance of generating a better ROI post deploying bot-based automated marketing solutions.

Today, a brand must rise above the ‘one-way’, yell-and-sell’, impersonal kind of marketing to emerge as an assistant, friend, consultant and guide. A chatbot performs all these tasks very efficiently, and through continuous learning, manages to enrich every subsequent conversation to offer a superior interactive experience. Being accessible round-the-clock also means greater consumer engagement and more convenience, as ‘office hours’ do not remain a barrier between consumers and brands. This also converts in more repeat customers, a parameter every marketer wants to score highly on.

From helping prospective customers to convert into qualified leads to collecting feedback, chatbots have streamlined the entire process of marketing, reduced costs substantially and enhanced efficiency. At the same time, this has enabled human agents to focus more on building stronger customer relationships by investing their emotional intelligence in the right areas. By handling a majority of repetitive customer queries dealing with basic information, it has also helped reduce marketing training cost and taken the load off senior marketing executives from training new recruits.

Chatbots have successfully managed to resolve the apprehension customers had with stilted, non-flexible IVR solutions. Conversations with chatbots feel more real, are more informative and in some cases, funny! Furthermore, the increasing proliferation of smartphones among users today have made both text-based and voice-based chatbots the best way to reach out to consumers, as they can be easily integrated into highly popular platforms such as WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Alexa, Google Home, and others.

As technologies such as Internet-of-Things begin to take shape, conversational interfaces can be easily integrated and adopted into a futuristic communication fabric. Empowered by next-gen concepts such as Natural language processing, vernacular bots and Advanced machine learning that can even predict the mood of consumers through their replies, chatbots will be able to understand human language in a way most marketers today cannot. In fact, chatbots could just be the key most organizations are looking for to develop a loyal customer base, a priceless asset in this era of high fragmentation, competition and ‘moving on’ quickly.

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