The large pure-plays are focused on things like Artificial Intelligence and messaging bots to boost and scale their customer interactions. But where are SMBs in all of this?
At Street Fight Summit New York City last week, several panelists suggested that SMB bots can be useful, but need to carefully built and managed in a way that is realistic for the limited technical and time resources that an SMB brings to the table.
Closely CEO Perry Evans said that the use of Bots can be consistent with an SMB’s core marketing mission: getting more customers; better customers; and converting them more frequently. The opportunities are enormous. “There are 11 million businesses with a landline,” he said. Bots provide an opportunity to provide a live implementation of a phone number for, say, something like $20 a month.
But Bot implementation for SMBs has been both too narrow in their applications, and too broad. SMBs should focus on using bots to enhance a natural “conversational experience” that provides customers on a new search path and an opportunity to get closer to a transaction. “It is not an iteration of messaging. It is not text messaging with an emoticom attached, Evans warned.
Meanwhile, on the Enterprise side, TGIF VP of Strategy Sherif Mityas said the restaurant chain is experiencing such strong results with its Bot that it may eventually replace its mobile app. Apps are for a “transitory experience,” while bots are more for “engaging a conversation,” said Mityas.
TGIF started its Bot program with happy hours and specials. Later, it added reservations and loyalty programs. You can now order your favorite burger with it. Twenty percent of online orders are now coming from the Bot, said Mityas.