Bots are coming to messaging platforms. How are companies using them?
Messaging apps are currently the largest communication platform in the world. Continuous improvements in smartphones and messaging apps have allowed us all to be connected through messages at any time from our mobile devices. Some of the most common apps are WhatsApp, SMS, Facebook Messenger, KIK, and Telegram. Currently the 4 main online messaging applications has more than 3 billion users and has surpassed in number of active users to the 4 most popular social networks.
Source: Business Insider
However, brands have not yet entered this new space actively to communicate or provide services to users through chat. Pioneering brands are starting to implement services for their users through messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and SMS. Start-ups in Sillicon Valley and New York are emerging trying to provide chat bots and artificial intelligence solutions to help brands communicate and better serve their customers for users through messaging applications.
One-to-one messages between people are the most natural interaction of smartphones, and it is no coincidence that applications such as Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger are the most used applications and with the highest number of active users. Mobile consumption data shows that most users use their smartphones mainly to write with friends and family on a daily basis and even several times an hour.
Nowadays, brands interact mainly with users through their mobile phones when they browse the internet on social networks, check their emails, read news in magazines or newspapers, watch videos on Youtube, buy products on Amazon or when they are looking for products or services on Google or Yahoo. However, brands can no longer ignore online messaging channels such as WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. These messaging channels are the perfect interface to interact in a private, personalized and direct way with each user, as many of the mobile applications of big brands intend to do. Online messaging will allow many brands to finally carry out efficient communication with users through messaging applications.
One of the main problems of brands today is that their users download their mobile app. There are thousands of applications launched every day in the market, and it is increasingly difficult to find a place in such a competitive industry. The friction to download an application is very high, and adding the fact that users spend most of the time in messaging applications, makes creating a user-brand communication channel in messaging applications a lot of sense.
Opportunity for brands and users
With the advent of Chat Bots, brands have a unique opportunity to establish direct relationships through apps that users use on a daily basis: messaging apps.
For example, through the online messaging, a user may be thinking about buying a shirt, a shampoo or a flight ticket and receive personalized attention through a conversation where the brand makes a number of questions to the user to understand their needs and preferences and then recommend products, services, and promotions based on their needs and tastes.
Mobile messaging could also improve the customer service experience. If we think about all the times that we have to call an airline, hotel, restaurant, insurer, banks, etc.usually no one likes to talk to tele operators and the customer experience is not the best. With the use of chat bots, users will be able to write direct messages and have conversations with these brands from their smartphone, being able to carry out orders, purchases, changes of reservations and many other things. Users may also receive updates and communication of new services through these messaging applications. Users would not have to be searching for information or calling on the phone but could interact directly through their favorite messaging channel on their mobile.
For users, it would also be very beneficial to have the possibility of being able to interact through messages with brands. For example, having instant personalized assistance through apps they use every day, conversations would be recorded and there would be no need to be looking for lost emails in the email inbox. In addition, communication with all these companies and services would be through a single channel that could be Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, SMS, etc. and users would not have to be looking for applications that they use once a month or few times a year.
Brands, on the other hand, would benefit from being able to engage with their customers via mobile, build better relationships, build customer loyalty by offering a better user experience, and reduce operational costs if artificial intelligence manages to automate most conversations and interactions. In addition, the biggest change would be that messaging services for the first time in history could provide users with whatever they want by allowing them to offer a personalized experience at any time of day anywhere in the world.
Currently several brands are starting to test chat bots via SMS and Facebook Messenger. At the moment Whatsapp does not allow to integrate conversations with brands in an automated way but Facebook Messenger and KIK already allow developers to build automatic conversations.
Some companies have already integrated, such as KLM, multi-brand cosmetics stores Sephora or the private transport company Uber with which you can already interact through Facebook Messenger. Facebook users can check in online before a flight and receive their boarding pass via Facebook Messenger, for example https://messenger.klm.com / (demo).
On the other hand, Sephora has developed a chatbot in the messaging app KIK to establish conversations with users interested in their products.
In the case of Uber, it allows its users to order cars to pick them up at their door through the Facebook Messenger application. Even Facebook has already designed the image of a car so that simply by clicking on the car icon in the chat users can request it without having to go to the Uber mobile application.
Several start-ups have already set to work to try to provide the best technology to brands and users and take advantage of this new communication channel. Among them are two Spanish entrepreneurs living in New York, brothers Pablo and Omar Pera have created a start-up called Reply.ai, in which they provide businesses and brands with a platform to create their own automatic conversations in messaging applications. All this visually and without the need for programming, making any brand can create its chat bot to receive appointments by chat, send personalized promotions or conduct surveys in messaging applications. They have already managed to get big American brands to start using their platform. I loved their project so much that I am currently working closely with them.
In addition to brands, online publications are also entering this new communication channel chat bots to be able to send news and personalized content to each user. Last Tuesday 12/04 during the F8 conference, Marck Zuckerberg made it public that CNN is his first partner to send news in a personalized way through recommendations of Outbrain by Messenger Chat.
Chat Bots are already a reality in China, they are taking off in the United States and it is only a matter of time before they reach Europe.