How Technology Is Changing the Way Brands Communicate With Customers
Catherine Metcalf
/SOURCE : Yicai
How Technology Is Changing the Way Brands Communicate With Customers

(Yicai Global) May 11 -- Email has been one of the primary methods used by companies to communicate with customers for some time now. While this is unlikely to change in the near future, technological advancements have opened up a wide range of new channels that can provide advantages that do not exist through email.

We now have text messages, mobile communication apps, voice services, and video chats. With these newer tools, companies can communicate in a more direct way while providing an experience that's tailored to be more relevant to the individual consumer.

In the past, taking advantage of these technologies would have required having a human representative on the other end for each interaction. With advances in Artificial Intelligence making it possible to automate many of these interactions, options for chat and voice recognition technology services are becoming more accessible. This post will cover some of the ways that these technologies are having an impact on the retail industry.

The Rise of AI Chatbots

Mobile messaging platforms and chatbots have both been around for some time. However, it is becoming clear that these technologies can be harnessed for a wide range of customer interactions. With improved AI to support the chat experience and chatbots being accepted by many of the messaging platforms, retail businesses now have the ability to use these technologies to provide customers from around the world with immediate support at any time.

Companies can now build chatbots for platforms like Facebook Messenger without needing to have significant technical expertise. These chatbots can provide convenient customer support and can also act as a sales associate for clients that are shopping online.

Earlier chatbots would not have been able to serve this function because they were not smart enough. Now, this type of service experience is available to almost any business and can be offered through a platform that most of consumers already use.

Customers are also starting to accept chatbots in increasing numbers. You will even see many situations in which customers prefer chatbots or messaging to speaking with a human representative. According to Facebook's own numbers, 56% of consumers would rather message a brand than call their customer service. Studies are also starting to show that an increasing number of consumers prefer using chatbots for some interactions.

Using Chatbots to Increase Sales

Chatbots offer obvious advantages for customer service. They can provide customers with an easy way to resolve issues, and give companies the ability to be more responsive without having to increase staff. While customer service is an effective use of chatbots, innovative brands will find additional ways to leverage this technology to increase sales.

Retail businesses can develop chatbots that allow customers to place orders directly through the chat service. Additionally, chatbots can be programmed to act as a sales associate for customers that are looking to make a purchase. Bots can now make recommendations based on customer information, and can also be set to ask a series of questions that will help them provide customers trying to make a purchasing decision with relevant information.

Strategies like these can be used to create an omni-channel experience and help brands develop stronger relationships with their online customers. Chatbots can also be used to build brand loyalty and  deliver a better online shopping experience.

Voice Assistants

Popular digital assistant products like Amazon's Alexa and the Google Assistant are also starting to offer brands new ways to communicate with customers. Consumers are now growing accustomed to integrating digital assistants in with a larger segment of their lives, and some brands are establishing programs that can help them to use this technology as a part of their marketing strategy.

By developing skills for Amazon's Alexa, brands can create a conversational experience for clients. Instead of typing to get what they need, consumers simply talk to the digital assistant to achieve their goals.

Companies can develop Alexa skills that teach them newer and better ways to use their products. They can also use Alexa skills to help customers make purchases.

Email is Still Relevant

Technologies like chatbots and voice assistants may perform better for some customer interactions, but that does not mean that email is a thing of the past. In fact, research from Litmus has shown that customers are dedicating more time and attention to email than they ever did in the past.

The smart brands are not going to abandon email for a communication strategy that is based entirely on voice and chat technology. Instead, they are going to identify the best channel for each type of interaction. This will allow them to develop a communication strategy that integrates a variety of technologies, providing the best experience for a wider range of consumers and situations.

[Disclaimer: Yicai Global is committed to providing an open forum to air a diverse range of views. The opinions expressed herein are the author's alone. Yicai Global has redacted this article to conform to our style and usage guidelines, but neither validates its factual nor endorses its editorial content.]

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Keywords: AI , Chatbots , Voice Assistants , Email , Brand