Bots Represent Brand: What Does Yours Look Like?

The world has been overrun by bots, but that’s not really a bad thing. They account for more traffic on the internet than humans. An estimated two-thirds of tweeted links to popular websites are posted by automated accounts. And even with concerns about them moving into human communications, we depend on them to automate tiresome tasks and speed common transactions effectively. Juniper Research forecasts that by 2022, chatbots will save businesses more than $8 billion per year. Consumers like them, too. One recent report found that 45% of end-users prefer chatbots for customer-service inquiries. For millennials, that number is even higher.

More and more people engage with brands through bots everyday. Facebook reported 300,000 active bots engaging with customers on the platform’s Messenger service, with eight billion messages exchanged monthly. One of the latest trends is omnibots, which are computerized personas of brand identities, fueled by artificial intelligence (AI). While similar to Apple Siri or Amazon Alexa, they’re also enabled for text, video and virtual reality. Omnibots are integrated into advertising, apps, websites, social media, call centers, stores and more.

The good, the bad and the scary

When they work as intended, bots are awesome. With easy ordering, payment processing, and purchasing advice, for example, they’re increasingly the public face of brands. And therein lies the danger.

When bots don’t work as intended, brand reputation suffers. The internet is littered with stories of bots that are poorly implemented, frustrating, pushy, context-impaired and creepy. No business wants to be associated with the catchphrase: “Sorry, I didn’t understand.”

Negative interactions mean that customer experience suffers when bots fail. And as we all know, customer experience is a crucial differentiator for brands. But that isn’t the only hazard. Consider what happens when an automated financial system program “goes rogue” and starts executing unauthorized transactions.

Protect your brand with safeguards

Human representatives make mistakes, too. But when ubiquitous automated systems make those same mistakes, the impact amplifies exponentially. To reduce these risks to reputation, apply the same safeguards to bot function and behavior as you do to managing traditional representations and representatives of your business:

  • Know your customer: Understand their needs and expectations and design any automation solutions specifically to perform those functions. Real utility is the hallmark of any great bot. 
  • Incorporate journey mapping: Take the time to create a visual design of every customer touch point with your business and where bot interactions will transpire. View your processes from the customer point of view to understand how they perceive bots.
  • Use the right technology: Can you integrate bot technology into all of your engagement channels? Can the bot seamlessly transition to a human for more complex support? Are there safeguards to vet customer feedback, complaints, and bot engagement data?

To bot or not to bot?

As we move into an increasingly automated future, new technology offers great promise for productivity, convenience, and engagement. But not everything can or should be “botified.” Brand responsibility cannot be automated, nor can reputation. If your bots fail, so do you.

Join me and experts from Amazon Web Services and IBM for one in a series of webinars: Build a Bot series: AI and the customer experience evolution.

You can also check read this ebook to learn how we’re teaming with Google Cloud to shape the future of contact center AI.