Conversational Marketing is the Wave of the Future

“Human language is the new user interface.” – Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft

In a world where most people are mobile-first or mobile-only, doors are opening for businesses that understand how to use chatbots enabled by AI (artificial intelligence). In other words, businesses that can “talk” to their customers.

Rebecca Clyde, co-founder of Botco.ai, explains at a recent Arizona Technology Council event how chatbots are being used to make business processes easier and more personal for customers.

Rebecca pointed out that as technology has continued to evolve at a rapid pace, people are recognizing the lack of personal, conversational marketing that comes along with some technology. People love all that comes with technology, but we want more; we want conversation, we want personalization, we want the humanistic aspects back. And businesses are once again fighting to keep up.

That’s why Rebecca co-founded Botco.ai, a conversational marketing startup that enables businesses to engage customers with AI-enabled chatbots. Chatbots are being used to make business processes easier and more personal for customers. And while adoption is still in the beginning phases, in a recent survey of 800 of the world’s largest enterprises, 36% say they’re already utilizing chatbots and 80% say they plan to by 2020.

Even with adoption rates where they are, there still seems to be this universal question of, “is AI good or evil?” And according to Rebecca, humans are the key to making AI a good, positive thing, but we must look at it realistically.

Reality 1: Most bots are scripted

In most cases bots have to be taught how to respond to questions and comments in topical situations. They are very reactive. However, if your bot is taught to answer IT questions and you ask it about the weather, it won’t know how to respond. There’s a big opportunity right now to figure out how to teach bots how to handle non-topical situations and to be more conversational. Essentially, to make them more proactive.

Reality 2: AI still needs human help

Human validation and QA (quality assurance) is still critical at multiple stages in the creation and implementation processes of AI. To her point, in 2016 Microsoft developed Tay.ai and released it via Twitter with the goal that Tay.ai would learn through interactions on Twitter. About 16 hours after launching, Tay.ai began posting provocative and offensive tweets forcing Microsoft to shut it down.

Another reason AI still needs humans is that we must ensure the content it’s learning from is current and accurate. In an example Rebecca shared, a business had their chatbot pull from their website content. When they tested the bot, they realized all the content was incorrect. From a content marketing standpoint, if it’s not good enough for your chatbot, it’s not good enough for your site.

Reality 3:Human-like AI is not quite there

In the movie Her, Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) develops an intimate relationship with Samantha (Scarlett Johansson), an intelligent computer operating system.  Unlike Siri or Alexa, Samantha is so humanistic that she speaks to Theodore as a friend, adapting her conversations to his needs and current emotional status. “We are not there yet, but that’s where we’re headed in the near future,” Rebecca says. Pretty soon, AI will not only be able to identify nuances and changing intonation in our voices, but it will be able to respond in a similar regard.

Be strategic and stay human

Rebecca shared a few caveats and pitfalls to avoid as we move rapidly into this new era of automation and AI:

Automate only what can be improved upon. Look at your business model and marketing/sales techniques and figure out how you can utilize automation to improve business processes and make it easier for your customers to interact with you.

Stay human. Remember you are dealing with humans and humans don’t want information regurgitated at them. We want conversation and valuable, personalized content.

Make a plan. Define your desired outcomes, develop use cases, build a knowledge base, design chat scripts and visual assets, and always analyze and improve.

AI is exciting and for some people, a little frightening. Implementing it means a total shift from old marketing, sales, and customer engagement techniques to new, innovative ones. But, let me put your mind at ease, you don’t have to make the leap all at once. Starting with one process at a time, you can transform your business and keep up with the rapid pace of change.

We were inspired by Rebecca’s presentation and decided to give chatbot development a try. Try our chatbot and share what you make.

Michaella Blake
michaella@castelazocontent.com
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