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We Love Big Bots (and We Cannot Lie)


News flash. People don't want to do business with companies. They want to do business with people.

Okay. Not exactly news. But with all the channels — and all the technology — available to marketers today, it's more important than ever to keep this in mind. If your website includes an online "Help" or "Contact Us" feature, make sure your customer's experience with it is as personal as it can be.

Because, guess what? People don't want to do business with robots either.

Nevertheless, Gartner estimates that 85% of customer interactions will be managed without human agents by 2020.

It's easy to understand the benefits of customer service automation for the marketer. Cost, efficiency, cost, consistency, cost ... oh, and did we mention cost? But, there's a problem.

We all know the difference when we're working with an actual person rather than artifical intelligence. And, sure, there may be very legitimate reasons for automating the experience. But, what can you do to (a) make it feel honest and (b) make sure your customer knows you care.

Btw, the answer isn't pretending that a chatbot is a real person. That really doesn't work.

It's important to communicate benefits to the customer. In direct mail campaigns, we always get a better response when we give multiple response options. (Imagine a letter with a sidebar that reads "Here are 3 ways to respond: Call xxxxxxxxxx. Email xxxxxxxxx Or visit xxxxxxxx.") You can use the same strategy on your site.

When a user clicks on "Help," take a moment to explain how the process works. But, be sure to use language that conveys real benefits to customers. For example ...

Many of our customers have similar questions and concerns. Click here to see if your question has already been answered. (Then give them a quick and intituitive drop-down menu.)

If you're in a hurry, our Instant Customer Care system can help you find answers fast. Simply type your name and question to use this convenient service. (You've just told them it's a system and a service. No need to make the chatbot sound like a (let's face it, fake) real person.)

If you would like to speak to a Customer Care representative, click here or call 1.800.555.0000. You may have a short wait if our staff is particularly busy helping other customers. (This is a respectful way to offer a live connection, if they really want it and are willing to wait.)

What we've done here is educate the customer about their different options. Then, they won't necessarily expect a person-to-person exchange unless they ask for it.

Artificial intelligence is a game-changer for marketers.

But just remember that the most powerful marketing is always one-to-one. Not one-to-bot.

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