So what’s beyond chatbots?
Brands across many industries struggle with the sales and service challenges with the “Now Generation.” Plus, the labor shortage exacerbates these challenges.
“To complicate matters further, companies across the board were faced with the issue of having agents miss work unpredictably, at a moment’s notice. The already costly and labor-intensive process of hiring, onboarding and ensuring new employees were up to speed became even more problematic than usual.” Total Retail, COVID-19 Has Given Rise to Mass Chatbot Adoption in the Retail Space, October 25, 2021
Chatbots Have A Sexy “ROI”
Frankly, it is hard to ignore the potential ROI. A recent article by Netomi highlights, “chatbots can help a business save up to 30% of their customer service cost.” Juniper Research also predicts that total retail chatbot sales will increase more than 15x soon.
“According to a McKinsey survey, at least a third of activities could be automated in about 60% of occupations. And in its recent Trends in Workflow Automation report, Salesforce found that 95% of IT leaders are prioritizing workflow automation technologies like chatbots, with 70% seeing the equivalent of more than four hours of savings per employee each week.” Despite challenges, Salesforce says chatbot adoption is accelerating, by Kyle Wiggers, Venture Beat, May 20, 2021
While enterprises spend millions deploying bots, the results have been consistently inconsistent. Some issues have to do with the execution, but more fundamental problems lurk silently in the background.
Chatbots have a long way to go before they realize their full potential… Virtual assistants like Alexa, Google Home, and Siri are “very limited in what they can do…In a lot of ways, they’re fancy toys at this point Chatbot Technology: Past, Present, and Future, Toptal Blog
The World Is Changing – Beyond Chatbots
Beyond the labor shortage, many factors are catalysts for moving away from text-based chatbots. First and foremost, with mobile phones becoming the predominant access method, typing into bots (when they are available) on mobile phones is cumbersome at best.
55% of page views in 2021 come from mobile phones.
More than half of all video views come from mobile devices.
51 Mobile vs. Desktop Usage Statistics For 2021, by Christo Petrov, Tech Jury, January 4, 2022
At the same time, marketing and customer success teams struggle to balance costs and user engagement. Getting found and acquisition costs are getting harder and more expensive. Consumers also expect bot technologies to improve access and engagement. A recent study suggests that “71% of consumers prefer to conduct queries by voice instead of typing.” The constantly changing demands of the Now-Generation create a higher bar for brands to achieve – especially as conversational AI moves to the spoken word and even interactive video engagements.
More than 50 percent of U.S. households now own a smart speaker. According to some estimates, 128 million people in the U.S. are using voice assistants. Where is the voice assistant industry headed, By Ben Dickson, TechTalk, January 10, 2022
Humanizing Bot Experiences
Like conversational marketing, chatbot vendors wax poetically about humanizing interactions. From persona to visual identity, the bot becomes part of the brand and, for the most part, falls short as a flat, non-engaging interface.
“Building a convincing character is often underestimated and often downgraded to a meager list of characteristics.” Developing Chatbot Personality: How to Guide 2021, by Barbora Jassova, Editorial Manager, Landbot, JUN 3, 2021
A recent study by CouponFollow found that:
- Convenience and saving time were the most popular reasons people used a voice assistant to help them shop; some people also cited saving time and money as major benefits
- Online shoppers who used voice spent an average of $136 more than people who solely shopped online
- About a third of “avid online shoppers” use voice to buy something at least once a month
The Move To Video Bots
With voice bots also becoming popular, visual engagement can be challenging. Research shows that most people are visual learners – especially since humans process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.
“65% of people are visual learners, so this is a great way to educate an audience…Video content is the fastest way to get into the brain of the viewer, which means people can consume content faster…Video content has a positive effect on a company’s bottom line: 70% of businesses report that video performs better than other content for producing conversions.” The value of voice: why video and audio content is on the rise, Trint Blog, May 30, 2019
A recent article by billo further highlights the trend toward video engagements:
- Videos Dominate Online Content – This is a vast market of consumers looking for content, so it’s no surprise why 87% of marketing professionals make use of video advertising.
- Video Advertising Leads to High Engagement – With video content, you’ll have the best chance of your business reaching the most influential audience.
- Videos are Sharable – Video content is shared by 92% of mobile video consumers, and according to Twitter, videos are six times more likely to be retweeted than photos.
- Video Advertising Drives Sales – 84% of consumers have attributed a brand’s video to their decision to purchase a specific product.
- Videos Humanize Your Brand – 83% of video consumers prefer an informal, chatty tone in marketing videos, so it’s a win-win for your business.
- Video Advertising Doesn’t Have to Be Expensive – video advertising doesn’t require nearly as much financial investment as it used to
Closed Systems Limits Brand Options
Current voice assistants like Alexa or Siri are closed systems with limited ability to control or manage the experience. The lack of openness is also true for enterprise voice and video solutions. Vocinity, on the other hand, has created a method for using best-in-class components to deliver maximum value.
- ASR (Google, Amazon, Deepgram, and others)
- TTS (Google, Microsoft, Wellsaid and others)
- NLU (Rasa)
- Tensor Flow (AI/ML)
Full-duplex virtual conversations go beyond the basics of conversational AI. In addition to commercial and open-source partners, Vocinity built a unique multimedia gateway from the ground up. The gateways reduce latency and noise, auto-correct ASR errors in context, and support adaptive bandwidth throttling for mobile users.
Moving Beyond Chatbots
Video brand assistants are accessible across all digital channels, including emails, text messages, social media, and websites. At the same time, marketing teams can use them to create interactive experiences that can replace introduction, support, explainer, and even testimonial videos. interactive introduction, support, explainer, and even testimonial videos. Consequently, enterprises that want to meet the demands of the Now-Generation need to look beyond basic chatbots to video, which is more engaging and produces more rewarding experiences.
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