There is considerable buzz around chatbots in the current customer loyalty industry. But, why is that the case? What factors have conspired to bring this topic to the forefront?

Josh Jacobs, President, Kik Services, attempted to bring some clarity to this theme during a session at the recent Forrester CXSF Conference.

“I think the answer to that with mobile, first and foremost, we’re reaching a tipping point where the vast majority of computing is happening in mobile environments,” Jacobs said. “Chat has been the killer app, but what’s happened now with WeChat in China is that’s created this lighthouse example for the rest of the world. We’ve taken that model and Facebook has taken that model. We think we can go and create this in other parts of the world.”

Jacobs said, for the past 25 years, “we’ve wrapped web services around, literally, everything right down to the light bulbs in our houses. There is no user interface for pulling that stuff together in an easy way. Conversation works better with the Internet of Things. Conversation works better for a web service-enabled world. Now, you’ve got this confluence of people already using their mobile devises to have conversations and there are a lot of us catching up and saying, ‘great.’’’

Jacobs said that what his, and other, companies are doing isn’t new.

“I’m old enough to realize that nothing that we’re doing is new,” he said “This is CRM. CRM has been around for a long time. I think the other trend that we’re already seeing is big established companies, particularly in customer service, are looking at this saying, ‘we have to add this as another channel.’’’

First and foremost, Jacobs said, that chat “extends the top of your funnel and brings a bunch of people in that, otherwise, would be scared off by the friction of becoming a customer in mobile.”

What’s more, Jacobs advised brands to consider looking at casual experiences they can offer that could create a “longer leash” for leads.

Brands should always know which channels their customers are most comfortable interacting in, and then engage them accordingly.

“The next generation wants to use chat and voice and you need to be in those environments that will later become table stakes for reaching those customers,” Jacob said. “This is CRM, re-engagement, re-marketing, and customer lifetime value for Gen Z and millennials.”

Some brands are still leery about moving forward with chat or any chat-related projects.

“I think everything that we’ve talked about pertains to how to give a voice to your brand and for your brand to have a conversation,” Jacobs said. “You can do that around marketing initiatives, and less around transactional initiatives.”

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