Conversational AI for Customer Acquisition
It’s no secret that customer acquisition has largely moved from the physical to the digital sphere. Particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses are looking for new and innovative ways to power their brands and to build relationships with customers.
September 21, 2021
It’s no secret that customer acquisition has largely moved from the physical to the digital sphere. Particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, businesses are looking for new and innovative ways to power their brands and to build relationships with customers. In fact, customers, too, are increasingly interested in communicating with brands. New research from LivePerson indicates that 85 percent of consumers want to use conversational experiences, like messaging via SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and more, to communicate with brands. Fortunately, advancements in conversational AI technology have significantly increased the number of options available to companies. As such, the marriage between customer acquisition and conversational AI is a perfect fit. By harnessing the powers of conversational AI through chatbot technology, companies are able to more effectively develop relationships with new customers and to increase capabilities to retain existing customers.
What does conversational AI look like?
At its core, conversational AI is the technology that allows a computer to recognize human language, comprehend its meaning, and then respond to the inquiry. This can take many forms, but the most common interactions for consumers take place with chatbots or voice agents. Although many businesses have implemented chatbots to serve as online customer service agents, their possibilities are endless.
Anyone familiar with chatbot development is aware that most bots are powered by decision tree logic and are moving toward natural language processing (NLP) in future development iterations. NLP is a method of analyzing language to allow bots to decode and understand human language. Bots are also powered by machine learning—the data processing and algorithms that allow a bot to gradually improve its knowledge base with more experience. These powerful tools are the basis of any conversational AI application that a consumer is likely to face, and they can assist with a wide range of customer needs.
Of course, these customer needs can only be met if the customers are interested in not just using chatbots but also in trusting them to help solve problems and find answers. According to recent research, all signs seem to be pointing to customers' readiness to use these new tools. From TechRepublic's reporting, 73 percent of surveyed customers are open to receiving help from chatbots. Alongside LivePerson's research, which indicates that the number of users who have interacted with chatbots jumped to 75 percent in 2020 from 60 percent in 2019, these studies indicate that consumers across the board are ready for chatbots.
However, consumers still have concerns about chatbots—particularly when it comes to etiquette and personal data uses. According to Conversocial, 62 percent of customers felt humans were more polite than chatbots. Furthermore, in a 2019 CGS study, 68 percent of consumers would not trust their personal information with a chatbot. That being said, given the aforementioned appeal of chatbots to many consumers, companies that are quick to address these concerns will be the first to experience the benefit of conversational AI.
Four ways that companies use conversational AI to acquire customers
1. Improved customer experience
The most powerful way for companies to acquire customers is to connect with them where they are—online. The average social media user spends an average of nearly two and a half hours a day on social media. And, of internet users, 50.1 percent of time spent online is on a mobile device. Because of this, messaging has become one of the best ways for companies to connect with and convert online users to customers.
Conversational AI takes messaging a step forward, focusing on improving each customer’s experience. This is evident in the ways that consumers are already using chatbots. It has quickly become an expectation that businesses provide 24/7 customer service through their website, which leads many companies to implement chatbot technology for around-the-clock customer care. Although these chatbots were originally simple Q&A bots, incapable of recognizing complex questions, conversational AI has vastly improved bot capabilities as they learn more from every interaction and become better suited to answer a wider variety of customer questions.
Positive online experiences drive customer acquisition. The best chatbot experiences happen when a bot can anticipate customer pain points through conversation and then provide quick yet thorough solutions. Not only is increased availability a huge benefit to consumers, but also the interfaces themselves adapt and learn over time to differentiate customer requests. By delivering unique responses and answers to more complex questions, these bots are capable of proving to customers and businesses just how invaluable they are.
Additionally, conversational AI has the power to tap into existing customer relationship management (CRM) and content management system (CMS) platforms, enabling bots to quickly collect customer information and use it to further personalize experiences. These personalized experiences are critical to customer acquisition efforts. By using conversational AI, chatbots are capable of drawing on information more readily than human agents are, saving customers valuable time and energy. There are even suggestions that by using chatbots to help fill in forms, the reduction of friction and mental load on consumers can quickly differentiate your company from others.
2. Deepened customer knowledge
Although improvements to customer experience are powerful in driving new customer acquisition, knowledge about customers is the backbone of a strong conversational AI system. When looking to distinguish themselves from competitors and to develop a strong relationship with potential customers, companies must leverage customer knowledge to create a cohesive, personal, and simplified experience.
Developing customer insights through conversational AI helps to improve engagement levels. The higher the engagement, the more likely a customer is to purchase—and the more frequently they’ll do so. By using conversational AI to find the links between customer questions and actions, your organization can better understand what’s drawing consumers in and how to keep them interested.
For those looking to understand the mechanics behind these customer analytics, the process is actually much simpler than you might think! For advanced conversational AI systems, these processes collect key pieces of information from each customer—from patterns or phrases used by customers and from actions taken by customers through the bot. This key information is then connected with the outcome of each customer interaction.
Usually, this outcome splits into a binary: Did the customer make a purchase, or did they abandon it? Did the customer leave a positive or negative review? Armed with the key information and the resulting outcomes, these conversational AI systems can quickly analyze the customer. Data can help to formulate trends that would typically be invisible and can ultimately help direct developers on how to further improve their customers’ experiences.
Customer knowledge gained through conversational AI can also be seen beyond the sphere of traditional consumer acquisition. In the case of the English soccer team Arsenal FC, conversational AI has been a critical component of increasing engagement among fans. Using data from its new chatbot, Robot Pires, the club learned more about the interests and specific usages of its fans, dividing them into groups and serving them more effective notifications—all based on their previous activity. The results of this project are more than impressive. According to GameOn Tech, the developer of the bot, these developments caused over three times more engagement on match days, with more than 90 percent of its users becoming active weekly, providing a massive boost to customer engagement and experience.
3. AI-based interest-mapping
When dealing with customer acquisition, time is of the essence. It’s a well-known rule that most e-commerce consumers decide to stay and shop on your website—or leave—after 15 seconds of browsing. Although you may trust that your product will keep consumers interested for more than 15 seconds, working hard to keep a customer's interest beyond that is essential. This is where conversational AI can help.
A chatbot with conversational AI can serve as a personal sales rep, using its intelligent data analysis to create meaningful recommendations to customers on your site. By recording past conversations and recalling metrics from other users, brand new users will be welcomed as though they’re longtime shoppers, with the bots making accurate recommendations and helping to target what they’re looking for. After all, 91 percent of customers are more likely to shop with brands that remember their decisions and that provide recommendations and offers. When your chatbot greets customers with their first name, recommends items based on their previous purchasing and browsing, and sends personalized offers just for them, customers will feel cared for and will likely be quickly drawn to your brand.
Although some customers might see these new levels of personalization as a breach of privacy, research indicates that the majority of users are not concerned with this—instead, these users enjoy the new advantages offered by this increased knowledge. According to LivePerson studies, 58 percent of consumers see personalization as a convenience rather than as a breach of privacy. In fact, many companies are jumping to bots specifically to provide personalized experiences for users, and the results speak for themselves.
For example, many companies are developing conversational AI bots built around interest mapping to fulfill needs in the digital space. Take Telekom’s German Tommy Bot, which offers digital consumers experiences comparable to in-person shopping. Developed with user data, Telekom was able to assist thousands of customers in finding a suitable phone plan. The results were equally impressive, as the company boasted a cost of acquiring new customers nine times lower than a traditional website.
4. Retaining acquired customers
Additionally, customer retention is also driven by positive customer experience, further adding to its importance. It’s no secret that creating repeat customers is five times more cost-effective than acquiring new ones. This makes taking as many steps as possible to retain existing customers essential for any business. Thankfully, chatbots and conversational AI are incredible tools for improving customer experiences across the board.
If you see higher bounce rates or fewer return visits to your website, conversational AI can be a simple way of touching base with online visitors to keep them on your website and to help ensure that they don’t leave for the wrong reasons. To start, designing a chatbot to always be requesting feedback and customer experience will help you make sure you don’t miss negative user experiences and can even offer incentives to turn these negative experiences into positive ones. Additionally, by plugging your conversational AI into CRM, customers who have abandoned their empty shopping carts can be contacted by your conversational AI system with a personalized recommendation or discount code, persuading them to complete their purchase.
Conversely, for customers who have left due to negative experiences, conversational AI tools can help bring them back to your business. These systems can compile negative feedback and use it to send customers customized messages addressing their concerns and problems. Personalized commitment and communication are incredible tools for bringing back customers who have left and can even be handled by basic conversational AI systems.
Conversational AI is a powerful tool—not only for acquiring consumers but also for developing them into highly engaged, brand-loyal customers. Employing a chatbot to improve customer experience, deepen understanding of customers, and carry out AI-based predictive analytics is a powerful step that any organization can take to help propel its customer acquisition and business to new heights.