March 19, 2019 / 2:25 PM / 4 days ago

Are you walking down the two-way street of customer conversations?

We want friends, employers and partners to like us for who we are, and we expect similar, more natural relationships when we interact with our favoured brands.

We’ve also become more demanding of the experience we expect brands to provide. If one offers next-day-delivery we want it as standard. If another can personalise its communications and create an interactive, intelligent, multi-channel experience, then we ditch those that can’t.

Indeed, brands are starting to understand that how they communicate with their customers is as important as what they communicate. Becoming clearer, as well as more conversational, relevant and natural is starting to appear as a key strength that drives a better relationship with customers.

Jamie Kenny, Founding Partner at marketing technology agency Byte London, comments: “One of the main growth areas is personalisation. Increasingly, there’s the opportunity to deliver more personal and more relevant experiences, at the right time and to the right audience.”

Isabel Perry, Director of Technology at Byte London, agrees. She adds: “Marketing has historically been very much about pushing out messages, and within the last two years, there’s been an incredible shift towards dialogue. That means the customer is in control of when and how they’re talking to our clients and Messenger has been a key part of that evolution.”

"We had tens of thousands of people messaging within days"

Advances in natural language programming and AI have made conversational marketing and chatbots more sophisticated and user-friendly. Ongoing development wi

ll only increase their sophistication and functionality, and ultimately the value they generate. As brands explore the possibilities offered by chatbots it’s incredibly important they stay grounded and define their business and marketing objectives very clearly. Brands can then develop their messaging strategy to achieve these objectives and measure performance against these goals.

Byte London worked with Victoria Beckham to develop a chatbot using Messenger that supported her fashion label’s launch of its Capsule Collection at London Fashion Week 2018.

The goal was to let fans get closer to Victoria Beckham, personalise their connection to the brand, and show off its new collection.

Victoria Beckham sent updates about what she was doing, how she chose models for individual outfits, and descriptions of the clothes she was wearing. Fans could browse through the 30 core items in the new collection, and using AR functionality on Messenger, use their camera to ‘try on’ sunglasses and see how they would look on their own face.

The Victoria Beckham chatbot received tens of thousands of messages within days of launching

The campaign was a huge success, as Perry explains: “We had tens of thousands of people messaging within days, and by the point at which Victoria Beckham released her Capsule Collection, they were so engaged that we saw a 25% click-through rate to her site from the collection. People were messaging her about the last 10 years of her fashion label and spending nearly 10 minutes within the Capsule Collection content. The chatbot drove huge engagement, allowed fans to get closer to Victoria Beckham and pushed them through to purchase.”

The campaign also created a foundation on which to explore how to build out the chatbot experience for other events and make it a bigger component of the brand’s customer experience.

Starting small but having a long-term outlook, enables brands to develop effective chatbot experiences and then grow them into their overall customer engagement strategy. As brands develop their conversational marketing capabilities and explore the use of platforms such as Messenger to create more effective brand experiences, Kenny is keen to emphasise a couple of guiding principles.

Wrapping up, he says: “First, think about the business objectives and marketing objectives. We would never encourage a brand to jump in and develop a chatbot or an experience on Messenger without having a very, very clear objective that meets their existing marketing objectives.

“The second thing we always say is to develop a chatbot experience for the medium to long-term. It isn’t just necessarily about creating a quick campaign experience. There are huge opportunities to develop and iterate a chatbot over time, to understand how customers use it, and to service and design the chatbot to improve and better serve customers’ ongoing needs.”

Developing these conversational skills will empower companies to talk to customers in a way they are comfortable with and a language they understand, strengthening the relationships they enjoy.

But if companies don’t evolve their conversational capabilities, they will lose out to competitors that have. Now is the time to make sure conversations are keeping customers interested.

The Reuters editorial and news staff had no role in the production of this content. It was created by Reuters Plus, part of the commercial advertising group. To work with Reuters Plus, contact us here.

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