Chatbots Continue Growth Across Verticals, Augmenting CX Along the Way

By Steve Taggart, Loyalty360

Chatbots, in many ways, are a sensible next for the kind of personalized marketing that brands have found to be a necessity moving forward. These automated SMS assistants provide a two-way customer service dialogue with customers while reducing the resources needed to engage with these consumers.

Why then are these chatbots simply on the periphery of customer experience initiatives, as opposed to front and center? Part of this is due to apprehension from brands that are still unsure of the concept’s ability to effectively engage customers.

“Chatbots are getting a lot of attention on the promise of transforming customer interactions, yet to date, there’s been little insight from consumers themselves supporting whether or not they would find value in chatbots as a way to communicate with brands,” said Jay Emmet, general manager for OpenMarket, who recently conducted a report on impact of these chatbots, both now and moving forward. “The survey findings prove that chatbots are more than a short-lived fad. They are an untapped mobile engagement solution that consumers and business could benefit from both from a convenience and financial perspective – a strategy that businesses should be incorporating into their 2017 customer experience initiatives.”

Of the verticals able to engage customers via SMS, the report shows that most customers (63 percent) want the technology to be implemented into their bank or financial institution. The need for up-to-the-second updates, combined with often-inconvenient bank hours, makes chatbots a potentially significant improvement to the overall CX faced by banking consumers.

Over half of surveyed customers may be requesting more SMS engagement with banks, but the vertical is able to take solace in the fact that, at the very least, a large number (about half) are already receiving some kind of alert or information through the channel.

The same can’t be said for the travel and hospitality vertical, in which only 25 percent of customers receive SMS alerts. This discrepancy, along with the 62 percent of customers in the retail vertical who don’t receive alerts, represents the biggest missed opportunity in the chatbot market and provides a potential roadmap for these industries to grow in this regard moving forward. Chatbots are already well into the hands of today’s consumers, and early returns show nothing but promise for the technology as a supplement to existing customer experience processes.

As more companies adopt SMS as a primary method of engagement, 2017 may very well become the year that these bots become just another standard piece of a holistic customer experience.