More and more consumers are heading to social channels to voice their frustrations with brand experiences. According to Salesforce, 66 percent of people who have used social media for customer service now prefer it over a traditional call center.

Related: How to switch your account to Instagram for Business.

Not only are customers flocking to social media, but it is proving to produce advantages for marketers. Social care agents are handling 4-8 times more issues per hour than phone agents, and preemptive social customer care is reducing call volumes up to 30 percent. As social customer service has grown and advanced, the introduction of chatbots is becoming more and more prevalent in platforms such as Twitter and Facebook’s Messenger.

Some brands may be hesitant to introduce artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) interactions between itself and its customers. However, a 2017 survey by LivePerson showed that 33 percent of consumers rated a positive perception of chatbots, and 48 percent were indifferent as long as their issue was resolved, leaving only 19 percent of participants who had a negative perception.

Despite those numbers, most consumers who own a smartphone already have experience interacting with AI via Siri, Alexa, and Cortana. Gartner estimates that by 2020 the average person will have more interactions with bots than with their spouse.

Gartner estimates that by 2020 the average person will have more interactions with bots than their spouse.

Chatbots are solving a multitude of issues for both brands and consumers, from order tracking and hotel-room booking to ecommerce enhancements. And as our collaboration with Beauty Brands has shown, chatbots can serve as a gifting recommendation generator. The Beauty Brands virtual shopping assistant aims to simplify the overwhelming choices faced by consumers during the holiday season. The interaction walks users through a series of questions before providing a selection of gift options that are matched to gift recipient, as well as category and price preferences.

Here is a sample interaction with the bot:

Enabling technology tools such as Botsify, Chatfuel, and api.ai are enabling quicker turnarounds for standing up a chatbot, leveraging messaging apps such as Slack, Kik, Skype, and Messenger, in addition to cloud networks and SMS. These quick-use tools have limitations in terms of their level of customization in interactions and their ability to read AI. However, the benefits include avoiding a time-consuming custom build.

Interactions may vary, but focus on simplifying interactions and meeting customers in channels they use.

The types of interactions that make sense between brand and customer vary, but focus on simplifying interactions and meeting customers in channels that they’re already using, rather than sending them to a website, FAQ, forum, or email interaction. We anticipate chatbots will continue to grow in popularity, relevancy, and usability, and many brands are jumping on board early to leverage the newness and excitement of this technology trend. If your brand needs help bringing a chatbot strategy to life, reach out to us.

Do you have any experience interacting with a chatbot? Share them in the comments below, with your favorite or least favorite aspects of the interaction!

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