Chatbots and Messaging Strategy

It’s been just about a year since Facebook announced its support of chatbots in Messenger. This one announcement sparked “the year of the chatbot,” making automated messaging available to companies of all sizes.

As messaging continues to solidify itself as the universal communication channel, chatbots will become integral parts of our lives.

But if you’re using messaging to improve customer experience and boost engagement, you can’t have chatbot tunnel vision.

As great as chatbots are, you need a more holistic, owned messaging experience to get the most out of your customer conversations.

How Chatbots Are Improving Customer Experiences

Chatbot skeptics are concerned that we’re just moving one step closer to eliminating human interaction. However, the business benefits of chatbots are almost undeniable.

There are certain use cases where chatbots can impact the customer experience in ways that human interaction can’t scale to compete with. A few examples include:

“Just in Time” Customer Support: After Facebook Messenger announced chatbot support, other platforms followed suit—Twitter and Kik most notably. Having chatbots on these major platforms means you can be where your customers are at all times. Rather than directing customers to download an app or visit your website, you can initiate support and address their problems immediately with a chatbot.

User Acquisition: When you look at a platform like Facebook Messenger, its chatbot support gives you a one-stop-shop for user acquisition. Target users with Facebook ads through Messenger, spark initial engagement, and then direct them toward your owned experience.

Personalized Messaging at Scale: Our websites and mobile apps are built to address fictional personas that represent ideal users. If we could personalize the experience for each individual, we would. But human interaction can’t scale that way. However, chatbots give you an opportunity to personalize messaging at scale before moving users down the funnel toward human interaction.

These three use cases are driving adoption of third-party chatbots. And for small businesses that can’t afford to build features like these in house, they can be powerful assets for driving revenue.

However, large enterprises can’t fall into the “rented land” trap that has already proven costly in the past.

Why Chatbots Aren’t Enough for Big Brands

Whether you’re a retailer, financial services firm, a major hotel/airline, or anything in between, big brands can’t afford to build their customer experience houses on rented land—didn’t we learn our lesson before?

For years, Facebook called for businesses to build their audiences through their platform. Create a page and you can reach your audience for free—without having to maintain a separate website. Millions of companies jumped on board and enjoyed unprecedented organic reach. Until Facebook changed the rules.

After ramping up the Facebook ad program, companies saw sharp declines in organic reach and found that accessing their audiences now had a fee attached to it. Losing organic reach so quickly can have a significant impact on your bottom line—and the same thing is happening with chatbots.

Building your messaging experience through chatbots on rented land means giving up your branding freedom. It also means losing access to some key customer data that could help improve your customer experience and boost sales conversions. The benefits may outweigh these sacrifices for small businesses, but the Fortune 1000 can’t afford to trust the rented land approach again.

Instead of relying solely on a third-party chatbot to drive your messaging experience, you can seamlessly mix human and bot interaction on your own branded experience.

Chatbots and Humans Are Better Together

Chatbots shouldn’t be the foundation of your messaging experience. Instead, you should build a branded messaging experience that uses chatbots to achieve the benefits we discussed above.

Mixing chatbot and human interaction helps you eliminate friction from the customer experience and help ensure you’re always staying engaged.

However, many companies are attracted to rented land messaging options because they aren’t sure how to create an experience of their own. If you want to learn how you can build a branded messaging experience on top of a pre-made customer conversation platform, contact us today for a free demo of Layer.