Data Tracker: The digital effect

Within a few years, technology has transformed the way we shop and sell. The appearance of chat bots and the use of data to engage customers in a targeted fashion have changed expectations among customers and retailers. A report by Nielsen Global lists what customers look for in the new age and what a chatbot must have to be a meaningful via-media between buyers and retailers.

People love conversational interfaces

  • The adoption of chatbot interfaces has been rapid. Apple’s Siri first appeared less than six years ago, but already IBM, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Samsung, Tencent, Facebook and several smaller companies have chatbots in the market
  • 60% of consumers used a voice-activated virtual assistant in the last year, and Google estimates that a quarter of all searches on mobile devices are carried out using voice commands
  • 73% of consumers say they wouldn’t use a brand’s chatbot a second time if something went seriously wrong with their first interaction

What a bot must have

  • A consumer expecting to talk to a flexible, helpful and understanding person is going to be disappointed by a bot with limited functionality, even if the interaction isn’t a disaster. This explains why many companies try to manage expectations by giving the consumer cues, such as using a cartoon representation of the bot rather than a picture of a person
  • Bots provide a way to deliver the brand voice in a direct, one-on-one interaction at a far greater scale than human advocates ever could
  • One-third of consumers who contact brands via social media never get a response. But a bot never sleeps, and so can respond to questions all day, every day. It can escalate a case to human service representatives when necessary, but only if they are available. Making bots available without a human back-up is a mistake
  • A bot without knowledge of the consumer will ask redundant questions, and may appear unhelpful or obtuse. At the same time, it is vital that the bot uses the consumer’s information in a sensitive way
  • The consumer must see the interaction with the chatbot as friendly to their interests, which means walking a fine line not often written into your typical one-to-one marketing algorithm.
  • It’s important to recognise that bots are not just data consumers, but can also be rich data sources: consumers are likely to mention birthdays, anniversaries, color or size preferences and more during a conversation
  • Bots can even carry out lightweight surveys, gathering customers’ opinions on products or on the service the bot itself provided

Source: Perspectives on retail technology: The impact of digital on retail, Nielsen

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