Since the release of Facebook Messenger bots in mid-2016, big brands have been experimenting with what value can be offered through this new pathway to consumers.
Chatbots automate conversation through identifying specific cues and phrases from customers searching for product information.
Heralded by Forbes magazine as “one of the most powerful up-and-coming tools”, chatbots are computer programmes designed to simulate conversations with people. They are able to answer simple questions and provide information like account details, product recommendations, weather predictions or directions, and are increasingly being used for customer service, in particular, dealing with queries.
Chatbots are already part of our everyday lives – think iPhone’s Siri. The technology, however, generated greater interest when Facebook announced that they would allow developers to create a chatbot for their own brands or services to enable their customers to communicate their daily actions from within messaging apps.
“Bots” offer brands a variety of methods to engage customers, from competition entry mechanics (previously dominated by SMS and USSD technologies e.g. dial *120* to enter) to online purchases that can be ordered through the “bot”.
Facebook Messenger boasts an impressive 900 million monthly active users, presenting a lucrative channel for businesses looking to reach new customers. Messenger chatbots make it easier for brands to engage directly with their consumers who already use the applications, as opposed to brands allocating resources to develop their own applications and spending huge marketing budgets to promote consumers to download their applications.
To put this into perspective, the near future could see popular services such as ride sharing and online takeaway deliveries being delivered through Messenger bots and challenging the dominance of native mobile applications.
Patrick Palmi, a local entrepreneur and mobile marketing fundi has taken note of this trend and has developed the mBongo chatbot for brands looking to take advantage of this coming trend.
mBongo is a messenger chatbot offering instant mobile money and airtime recharge as a reward for customer engagement. mBongo incentivises customers to engage with the brands they support and allows brands to learn a good deal about the customers that purchase their products.
To take advantage of these incentives, customers must upload and send their receipts using mBongo chatbot. The chatbot will load a short promotional video whilst processing the validity of the receipt, once approved, the customer will receive an instant reward in the form of airtime, data or credits for future buys.
Data is the new currency
The mBongo chatbot makes use of deep intelligence to give brands insights into their consumers’ shopping habits. mBongo not only allows brands to mine customer data i.e. customer demographics such as age, gender, race etc. but also offers brands basket analysis for in store purchases, a service retailers charge a notable fee on.
The chatbot uses a range of functions (image recognition, video streaming, GPS location services etc.) in order to engage the customer. It gathers data from their social accounts and can look into previous online purchases to build a better picture of the customer’s shopping preferences.
Bespoke chatbots for any industry
Through his mobile marketing agency, Just Palm, Palmi also offers brands bespoke off-the-shelf bots that can be linked to the brands’ Facebook page. This innovation is set to disrupt how brands manage several touch points in the customer journey, for example, customer service can be managed through the chatbot for customers looking to make claims on guaranteed products.
The innovation is expected to be far reaching. It is expected to be adopted by insurance brands, for example, who can utilise the intelligence to automate the handling of claims i.e. opening of new cases and reduce the need for human intervention in logging cases.