Ben Krasnow, Wondersauce
AI is Enhancing Conversations with Customers. Are You?
If you work on managing your company’s digital infrastructure, it’s an exciting time to rethink how to get feedback from real people.
At Wondersauce, we’re interested in how brands are utilizing voice computing (i.e. Alexa) and chatbots to not just talk at their customers, but have a conversation with them. Used the right way, services like these do more than help customers via improved utility, they signal a brand’s commitment to innovation.
Voice Computing / Artificial Intelligence:
One of the most popular TV shows is a Wild West theme park filled with artificially intelligent robots that feel human. People are using Amazon’s Alexa, Google’s Assistant, Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri to interact with computers in ways never seen before, sometimes with hilarious consequences.
AI in new products or services will allow you to serve customers in new ways, anything from building a chatbot to teaching voice platforms skills about your brand. We’re curious to see how brands use AI to help customers learn about new products, promotions and other yet-unknown ways that voice activations are different. The bad news for brands is people will not ask a computer for Energizer or Duracell – they will say, “Ok Google, buy me batteries.”
What actions does a computer respond with when someone asks about your product? How does your brand come into it, and more importantly, what’s your strategy behind why it responds in the way it does? Someone asking for sports scores will not be surprised when ESPN comes up; what are the situations where your brand should be the answer?
Each brand will need to have their own answers for these questions. For consumers, the kind of utility that a voice speaking to you provides is fundamentally different than anything before it. How are people talking to your brand?
Chatbots are another form of interaction, powered by the AI boom, that is only beginning to take off. Companies experimenting here look to China’s WeChat, playing catch up to the capabilities that Tencent has established. Features inspired by WeChat have appeared in Snapchat via SnapCash and Facebook’s Messenger with chatbots.
Chatbots and AI will test the technical limits of your organization. Creating a bot that successfully discusses all potential use cases a user throws at it is nearly impossible, but there are ways to limit how the bot functions that actually helps users. Building a bad experience, no matter how innovative it is, is more damaging than helpful.
Chatbots are all about the actions (or options) that they enable consumers to do. For example, one fashion brand sends users two photos of different outfits to give them options around style, and to help the bot learn the user’s taste. A major news publisher only gives you two options: “Top Stories” and “Contact”. Whatever you decide to do: keep it simple and only provide a few options at a time.
Understanding how functional a bot must be for your brand is essential to know if you should be building one. What’s the utility, the experience that will wow, you can provide that no one else can?
The second part of a chatbot is where the experience happens, not just what it enables. Is it creating real-time chat with a personalization of your brand on your website? Or do you need to build a bot that lives across many social platforms, including ones like Kik, that serves as wide an audience as possible?
Branding today is more than words, websites, social media profiles, and campaigns - it’s about how interacting with a brand on and offline makes you as a consumer feel. If your company doesn’t think it can execute well on the above, then go slowly and be careful. At the end of the day, good execution is the best way to make sure your brand infrastructure is rock solid.
We focus on making incremental moves that help us learn: starting small, testing, learning what works and what doesn’t, works. Rapid prototyping for minimally viable experiments, whether it’s chatbots or something else, dramatically increases the probability for success.
About the author:
Ben joined Wondersauce in February 2016 after graduating from NYU with a politics degree. While in school, he held internships at technology startups and digital media companies working on business development, sales, partnerships and marketing. His passion is understanding business models and what makes an industry transform via different new technologies.