To Bot or Not to Bot…That is the Question


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A recent article in AdAge (Why Marketers Are Betting on Bots) examined the growing trend of companies leveraging artificial intelligence in customer interactions. The cornerstone of the article centered on the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas hotel’s use of Rose, an SMS chat bot created by super agency R/GA, that served as a virtual concierge for guests. On Rose, Mamie Peers, VP of Digital for the hotel, says, “[Rose] is delivering on the promise of helping guests have a better time and we’re looking at ways to expand her in more ways throughout the resort.”

The Cosmopolitan isn’t the only company experimenting with AI to augment its customer experience. Brand including eBay, Taco Bell, and 1-800-Flowers are all leveraging AI in unique ways. However, all these brands seem to hope that this new technology can lead to a common goal – namely to allow marketers to better connect with customers and offer something digitally distinctive.

Recent research from Forrester has shown that 5% of companies worldwide were using chat bots regularly, while 20% were piloting them. An additional 32% were planning to use or test them in the coming year.

But, while bots can serve a purpose in customer interactions, the biggest question is whether they are the most efficient “being” for better connecting with customers.

Is a human being the best type of “being”?

At SaleMove, we are passionate about providing companies solutions to move human-to-human interaction online. We feel strongly that a human connection is the most distinctive and best type of connection for fostering a strong relationship between a company and its customers. We also feel strongly about AI, but in a way that might be counter to the current consensus of bot-crazed companies that may have prematurely gone all-in on bots.

Bots are awesome. They really are. But, they are severely limited when it comes to human interaction. While they might be able to easily tell you what time check-in is and order a bottle of champagne, chances are it will have a hard time telling you why your shower isn’t working or why you weren’t upgraded.

In our ideal future, bots serve as a supplement to real-life human counterparts online. Bots can begin the conversation, answer simple questions, and leverage AI to determine the appropriate human to hand a conversation off to build the better connection and handle the more complex questions that typically pop-up. It is still not a question that a human being is better equipped to move conversation along in a more natural and meaningful way.

Can’t we all get along?

So, the question is what should brands be doing? Should B2C and B2B companies employ similar bot strategies? Does it all boil down to cost?

To be successful, it should all really boil down to the customer experience. Companies need to have a firm grasp on what is going to impact a positive customer experience more – chatting with a bot or engaging with a human – and what customer preference is.

But it doesn’t have to only be one way or the other. The most successful strategy will most likely be a combination of both bot and human. As Forrester Senior Analyst Xiaofeng Wang said in the AdAge article, “It’s just like digital media took over some share of print media, but they still coexist.”

Jeffrey Mack
Jeffrey Mack is currently the Head of Marketing at SaleMove, an enterprise SaaS company redefining how companies communicate with their customers online. An ardent champion of the Customer Experience, Jeff thrives at the intersection of business, technology, and design. Prior to SaleMove, he held various senior digital marketing roles at companies like LinkedIn, Softcard (Google), and HSBC.


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