Could chatbots redefine retail customer service?
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from Retail Dive, an e-newsletter and website providing a 60-second bird’s eye view of the latest retail news and trends.
At its F8 Developer Conference in mid-April, Facebook opened its Messenger platform to chatbot services, an enhancement that the social media giant said will change the way users access information, retail goods and entertainment.
Already in heavy use in China through the ubiquitous, Facebook-like social media platform, WeChat, app-like chatbot software automates customer service tasks that are now commonly offered via phone and e-mail. These “bots” can provide customized communications from businesses like receipts, shipping notifications and live automated messages, “all by interacting directly with the people who want to get them,” according to Facebook.
Chatbots are poised to revolutionize customer interactions because the communication goes beyond the kinds of marketing now possible even on social media or mobile apps, says Robert Stephens, a co-founder of Assist, a bot messaging startup.
Mr. Stephens and Jason Goldberg, who leads commerce and content strategy at interactive digital agency Razorfish, both say that eventually bots will use data on consumers’ smartphones to help them out in all kinds of ways, from ordering tacos, checking whether Urban Outfitters has that blue dress in your size, or whether drills are still on sale at the local hardware store. (The bot will answer that and also tell you how late the store is open.)
Eventually, bots may become more proactive, letting you know that the dry cleaner is closing soon if you want to pick up your suit or that you have an hour free if you’d like to scratch that bank deposit off your to-do list.
But some onlookers predict that, assuming bots evolve to the level of sophistication that many expect, they might only serve to enhance actual human interactions, rather than replacing them outright.
“If a company were smart, it would help them use their people well,” said Mr. Stephens. “A bot will know which store the customer shops at, and will know not to just send them to a random person. So if a company has people it relies on, messaging will be a perfect fit. If they’re smart.”
- How chatbots are going to redefine retail customer service – Retail Dive
- Facebook brings bots to Messenger in bid to redefine retail customer service – Retail Dive
- Messenger Platform at F8 – Facebook
Do you see chatbots transforming how retailers communicate with consumers? What appear to be the advantages and disadvantages over current customer service tools? How do you see the role of the customer service rep changing?