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Leveling up Your WeChat Through Chatbots
Leveling up Your WeChat Through Chatbots
Chatbot technology has finally become cost-effective and easy to implement, with WeChat being an ideal entry point.
This year, MADJOR has entered into an exclusive partnership with Emotibot, China’s first company dedicated to creating emotionally-capable artificial intelligence. Emotibot was founded by the team behind Microsoft’s famous Xiaobing chatbot and the Chinese version of the Cortana AI. In conjunction with Emotibot, MADJOR has created a unique offering that includes the design and rollout of commercially viable chatbots.
Recently, many clients that we meet lament about their difficulties in recruiting WeChat followers and the low business impact of their WeChat investment. Although the campaigns they and their agencies produce may be distinctive and imaginative, they are still unable to consistently capture consumer attention in the heavily media saturated world of WeChat.
MADJOR believes that WeChat accounts that produce tangible business results have both content and functionality (i.e. value added services such as customer service) working in tandem with each other. However, we have seen that most brands rely only on content to drive user growth and engagement. Relying solely on content results in low fan retention, high costs related to constant, ineffectual campaigns, as well as low overall business impact; on a platform as widely used as WeChat, users are bombarded with content on all sides.
To avoid playing into this cycle of content futility, brands need to create differentiation by creating excellent content as well as provide value added services. So what kinds of value added services exactly? We at MADJOR believe that services through chatbot platforms are the optimal solution.
Chatbots were one of the hottest tech buzzwords of 2016, especially in the realm of marketing. Chatbots were framed as the be-all end-all of marketing automation – able to render human customer service agents obsolete, centralize CRM, and ultra-personalize every step of the customer journey through continuous machine learning. However, lacking in all the buzz was an eye for pragmatic use cases as well as direction on how to scale and implement a chatbot platform inside your company.
MADJOR and Emotibot are fervent believers in the potential of chatbots and believe that there are wide-ranging applications that can transform how an organization relates with its customers and workforce. However, we also believe that brands should start small by using WeChat chatbots for tightly defined use cases. Starting with WeChat allows brands to test a chatbot cheaply and quickly as well as act as a proof of concept for further chatbot investment in other areas of the business. Moreover, China offers the perfect environment to experiment with chatbots given the near universal prevalence of WeChat and its established role in consumer engagement with brands.
Why a Chatbot?
Stellar and consistent customer experience at low cost: Today’s consumers expect frictionless customer service engagement unencumbered by endless phone-based menus and wait times. According to Ubisend, 64% of consumers believe business should be available and contactable via messaging applications. Moreover, as chatbots are just that – bots – they’re able to provide customer queries with consistent, predictable answers. Brands can also save on labor costs as well, with BI Intelligence estimating a 29% reduction of customer care costs by implementing a chatbot. This isn’t to say that chatbots will replace your entire customer service workforce – instead, a blended model could be ideal, with chatbots taking on most customer service queries while also providing an option for consumers to speak with a human for more complicated situations that require soft skills and empathy.
Constant self-improvement and learning to bolster personalization: The latest generation of chatbot platforms – including Emotibot’s – are able to continuously upgrade their capabilities and learn more about users due to advances in machine learning, which allows chatbots to “study” large amounts of user data. In the customer service context, this means that chatbots will be able handle situations of higher complexity as time goes on, while also being able to personalize product search and the general tone of voice based off what they’ve learned about the user.
The technology has developed enough for pragmatic usage: Chatbots may have become more widely known last year, but the technology has been continuously iterated upon for years with cheap and scalable Chinese language solutions now currently available; KLM, the Dutch national airline, has already implemented a customer service chatbot within their official WeChat account. Moreover, the fear that time spent on an implementation may be for naught once new versions of chatbots come out is unfounded, as machine learning allows chatbots to constantly improve themselves.
Disrupt your category’s WeChat status quo: In China, major brands across many verticals in China have not yet adopted chatbots, making it clear that there is a huge white space for your brand to differentiate on customer engagement via a chatbot. However, Emotibot is already working with several major Chinese retail, internet, financial services, and hospitality brands; the opportunity to disrupt in your category may turn into a need to catch up.
Use Cases for WeChat Chatbots
CRM Management: Chatbots will enable a powerful centralization of CRM data. As chatbots are designed to constantly collect and analyze data; data is collected into a central source and thus reduces the likelihood of data leakage.
- Optimize sales force automation by having a chatbot send follow up communication right after a sales meeting
- Utilize geographical data to push targeted marketing messages and promotions
- Utilize previously collected data to target marketing material distribution more precisely
Customer Service: Due to advancements in AI language processing, chatbots are now able to learn how to solve complex customer service queries in addition to playing back pre-set answers to simple questions. However, MADJOR believes that chatbots focused on answering simple queries will be an optimal starting point.
- Checking in Chinese travelers traveling abroad at hotels without language support
- Optimize basic customer service use cases to boost customer satisfaction and positive outcomes
- Proactively suggesting tips and tricks to navigating an app/web-based experience (i.e. toggle search function like X to get Y)
Customer Experience Personalization: As chatbots learn more and more about each user over time, each interaction along the customer journey can be increasingly personalized in accordance with user data.
- Suggesting vacation destinations based off data collected on user preferences
- Picking certain types of hotel rooms based off data based off previous stays
- Suggesting a car model and payment plan based off historical purchase data and real-time chat
Innovative Marketing Campaigns: Chatbots can now simulate real personalities and can be linked to peripheral AI tech (i.e. facial recognition), allowing for novel ways of creating consumer conversation that is distinctive enough to capture consumer attention in a sea of branded WeChat media.
- Pairing a chatbot with facial and object recognition technology to suggest an ideal outfit
- Pairing a chatbot with facial recognition technology to suggest makeup/beauty regimes
- Having a quick chat with a chatbot to indicate preferences and then letting the bot order a pizza that it’s designed
An Emotibot Example:
Chatbot-enabled innovative marketing campaign: Emotibot has worked with the team of a popular manga called 刀刀狗 – China’s Snoopy – to implement a customized chatbot onto its official WeChat account, allowing the brand to utilize innovative technology to nurture an emotional relationship with its users. This chatbot has taken on the personality of China’s Snoopy, chatting with users in the type of tone that it “speaks” in within the manga; the chatbot is able to learn more about users as time goes on, further personalizing the bot’s interactions with users by allowing the bot to send occasional small surprises (i.e., a voice message on the user’s birthday).
How Exactly Will This Work?
Anything associated with AI may seem vastly complicated to understand and explain. Explaining how WeChat chatbots will work for your business, however, is simpler than you might think.
Step 1: The user interacts with the WeChat chatbot by sending a message via text, voice, photo, or video.
Step 2: The interaction input is analyzed through previously defined protocols. What this means is that the chatbot will “read” the input for any key bits of information that it recognizes.
Step 3: The chatbot matches the analyzed input and retrieves whatever is requested from the brand’s inventory – whether it is a certain type of response (content), some sort of service (i.e. recalling order numbers), or executing an order for a specific product
Step 4: User receives output of inventory retrieval in step 3.
Ongoing throughout: The chatbot is constantly analyzing and learning from data collected from user interaction, allowing the chatbot to personalize further reactions to its user’s tastes while also allowing it to upgrade its problem solving and conversational ability.
Chatbot technology is no longer something that is too advanced to be utilized by marketers and major brands as a whole, as pragmatic use cases and scalable solutions are now a reality. With several major brands in China already in the process of designing and testing their very own customer-facing chatbots for launch in 2017, chatbots – and artificial intelligence in general – will become something that customers will expect leading brands to successfully implement sooner, rather than later.