The term ‘chatbot’ only became part of the public lexicon this year, yet such is the hyperbole surrounding bots that now 80% of big brands say they’ll have their own within the next 3 years.
Oracle’s latest study into ‘virtual experiences’ found many brands under pressure to improve customer experience through automated services – with the use of virtual reality, artificial intelligence and chatbots top of the priority list.
Polling 800 senior marketers and sales executives across the globe, Oracle’s research paper, Can Virtual Experiences Replace Reality? unearths some interesting stats, namely that:
- 48% of brands have implemented automation technologies in sales, marketing and customer service, with a further 40% planning to do so by 2020.
- 78% of brands expect to be using VR for customer experience by 2020, with 34% having already implemented the technology to some degree.
- 80% of brands will be using chatbots for customer interactions by 2020, whilst 36% say have already implement some form of chatbot into their service function already.
Facebook announced in April that they would make their Messenger platform available to developers wishing to create chatbots for their brands, and interest in their application has exploded ever since.
Whilst opinion initially weighed in favour of bots being most useful aiding ecommerce transactions, it’s the realm of customer service that has since the greatest uptick.
In October, Twitter announced it had also launched chatbot functionality via automated welcome messages and quick replies in its Direct Message function.
A number of tech companies are already signed up to help brands develop their bots, including Sprinklr and Conversocial, which has been charged with developing Tesco’s new DM tool.
“Our team currently spend 14% of DM replies asking for additional customer information,” says Mike Johnson, improvement manager for product at Tesco.
“This new functionality allows us to seamlessly gather more customer context prior to responding, so we can serve them in the most helpful, relevant, and efficient way.”
Oracle’s study suggests that data poses the greatest threat to using automated services effectively. Their latest research states that 60% of brands don’t currently include social or CRM data in their customer analytics. 42% say they collect a great deal of data from multiple sources, but are unable to extract customer insights from it.
“Brands are at a crossroads,” says Daryn Mason, Senior Director, CX Applications at Oracle. “There’s an early-mover advantage to experimenting and launching innovative services while others wait and see, but they need to walk before they can run.
“The reality is that many brands are still unable to get a complete view of each individual customer so the immediate priority needs to be to organise and get value from the data they already have. Customers will value a quick, helpful, personalised interaction regardless of how it’s delivered so there’s hope for us humans yet.”
Chris is Editor of MyCustomer. He is a practiced editor, having worked as a copywriter for creative agency, Stranger Collective from 2009 to 2011 and subsequently as a journalist covering technology, marketing and customer service from 2011-2014 as editor of Business Cloud News. He joined MyCustomer in 2014.