27 Jun Why Bots Will Drive the Next Revolution of Commerce
Bots, otherwise known as digital robots, have gotten a bad rap online in recent years. Nearly every business with a web presence has had to deal with spam style action on online forms or social media platforms, and Microsoft had a high-profile embarrassment in 2016 when the Twitter community taught their AI interface Tay to be racist and inappropriate after twenty-four hours.
Despite this, there have also been some significant advancements in the world of bots. You are probably already interacting with bots on a daily basis without even realising.
Apple’s Siri is a bot who has become a palm sized personal assistant for the 715 million iPhone users worldwide, helping them to do everything from send a text to set an alarm, make dinner reservations and even identify which planes are currently flying overhead.
Whether it’s assisting with high volume requests, or a way to engage consumers with interactive conversations on their preferred platform, bots are proving to be game changers for marketers and look set to pave the way to increase business capabilities, especially in the competitive and ever changing world of commerce.
Big Brand Bots
Publishers have already found bots to be a useful tool to ensure that their audience engages with their content first. New York Times, CNN and the Today Show are all examples of this, offering customisable searches and headline recaps for users. Similar bots like The Score and NFL by Sports Illustrated offer sports fans recap and communication functionalities across multiple platforms.
Bots are also revolutionising the travel industry by integrating with Facebook Messenger. Expedia’s bot lets travellers make hotel bookings in a conversational way. Uber and Lyft both let people make ride bookings and update friends without having to open the app.
Bots on your Pay Roll
Shopify’s Kit has been marketed as the first employee small businesses will hire. Automation in marketing isn’t a new concept, but the way Kit combines tools for CRM and business growth goal setting is. Shopify speak about Kit like she is a person, and encourage businesses to “hire” her rather than subscribe to the functionality.
Kit manages Facebook and Instagram advertising, emails ‘thank you’ messages to shoppers, retargets ads to help minimise loss of revenue from abandoned carts and integrates with a number of other e-commerce apps to enable seamless e-commerce management.
Bots for your Inbox
It is not just travel and retail businesses who are benefiting from Bots and AI. Businesses in a range of industries are benefiting from enhanced communication capabilities from tools like Slack. While the name might imply a relaxed approach to workplace communication, the functionalities are advanced and Slack stops the flurry of mixed messages and correspondence by centralising conversations, email, text and phone calls into one easy to use system that integrates with other business applications like Salesforce, Google Drive and more.
You can set up alerts in Slack to notify you when certain phrases or topics are discussed – which is a great way to save time weeding through dozens of emails to find relevant information. The search functionalities are also well beyond what most modern email clients can provide.
There are also a number of other automated virtual assistant style tools that can help you manage tasks and your workload in a more efficient way.
Automatic Personalisation and Profit
One of the biggest criticisms of AI is often that the user experience with a machine will never be as genuine as it is with a person. But the reality is that people have finite capabilities and are also susceptible to making mistakes or having a bad day.
A person’s brain doesn’t work the same way that a computer does, so a staff member is never going to be able to remember and recommend the same amount of “like” products as an app or bot can.
While all your staff are busy tending to customers, other customers may be left waiting and getting frustrated when they have a simple enquiry. In this scenario Bots enable support to be provided to multiple customers at once with no delay or customer frustration.
Businesses have gotten better at capturing data that can help them understand their customer base, but often lack the time and resources to properly analyse and leverage the information to turn it into tangible results. Bots and automation help to not only process this information, but also use it in a way that has a direct impact on your bottom line.
Should You Get a Bot?
While it is easy to say “We’re not as big as eBay we don’t need a bot” you can’t ignore the fact that consumers are increasingly becoming accustomed to self-service and immediate information in this day and age.
The fact that Siri has been on iPhones since 2011, and the big players have already pioneered the way, means that consumers are starting to learn how to interact with machines.
Even if you don’t think you’re ready for a customer service bot yet, there are undoubtedly ways that automation via a bot, or bots combined with AI, can help you and your business. Not all bots are designed to act like humans. Beyond chatbots and virtual assistants like Kit, there are many other bot tools and applications that can help your enterprise operate more efficiently.
My team and I are working to take bots and process automation to the next level with one such application named Workflows. From capturing and segmenting information, scheduling and sending emails, managing key documents, delegating tasks and streamlining work between team members – we can now make work happen simply and automatically with Bots and AI.
Ultimately, the automation aspect of bots is where a lot of small and medium enterprises are going to find the most benefits. From taking the tedious tasks out of your staff’s daily jobs, to setting up workflows to enhance productivity and reduce errors, to making it easier for you to interact with your database via your existing CRM platform, there are immense possibilities and benefits that apps, bots and other artificial intelligence platforms can provide.
Technology can now really help you to work smarter, not harder. By standing on top of the latest trends and adopting software applications that can improve your efficiencies and create a more streamlined customer experience, you’ll be making sure that your business stays profitable now and into the future.
What do you think? Are you using bots in your business right now? Let me know in the comments below.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Himal is a serial technology and education entrepreneur, management consultant and founder of Workflows, an intelligent business operating system that allows you to map and automate your business processes from beginning-to-end; freeing up time, money and resources to scale business operations. Workflows is currently available on limited release. Businesses can sign up now to receive early-access at workflows.com.
Take part in our 60-second survey and earn 100 Bot Credits!
Complete the survey below to instantly earn 100 Bot Credits per month for life when you become an early-adopter of Workflows.