The Bots Are Here, And They’re Coming For Your Jobs

Stat of the Month

It is time for us to redefine the word bots.

A quick poll around the office gathered the following words associated with “bots”:

  • spam
  • Transformers
  • Skynet
  • that robot that the dude pushed down in that video in Boston (their words for this video)
  • automated
  • bad
  • annoying

Not a lot of positive sentiment there.

Odds are you are already interacting with bots even if you don’t know it.

Many apps handle onboarding and support with a bot—Slack, Telegram, Kik, Textra, etc. In an instant, your questions are answered and you are immersed into an integrated experience learning how to use the app without coachmarks and traditional learning screens apps have used for years.

Many knew this day would come, but 2016 will be the year of the mainstream bot. Gartner knew this was coming way back in 2011 (five years in the marketing landscape is an eternity).

By 2020, customers will manage 85% of their relationship with the enterprise without interacting with a human. Gartner Predicts

2016 is smack in the middle of the prediction and when the prediction was made. Reliable rumors point to an upcoming announcement of a Facebook Messenger Bot Store in April. Facebook currently has over 1.04 billion daily active users and they’re about to open their doors to bots in their extremely popular Messenger app (now the default way to send messages from a mobile device). 80% of Facebook users are active on Messenger monthly already.

Bots aren’t for just replying with witty remarks or canned support replies either. Ted Livingston (founder and CEO of Kik) recently penned The Future of Chat Isn’t AI discussing this very thing. He breaks down some amazing use cases—ordering, paying for and receiving delivered beers at a crowded sporting event, or going immediately to a table in a restaurant and ordering from chat instead of a bloated app on an iPad (I’m talking to you airport food kiosks).

The implications are huge. This isn’t another app download or something you have to learn how to use.

Bots are coming to you where you already are.

Think of all the brands you follow or interact with on Facebook. Instead of your favorite brand hoping to catch your attention with an organic or sponsored post in your feed, you have their chat bot because they gave you free shipping for life in exchange for the download. They send you an IM with 50% off the pair of jeans you left in your online shopping cart if purchased in the next hour—simply reply “Oh yeah!” to buy them.

You smirk at the brand trying to be engaging and type, “Oh yeah!” and are prompted to confirm the last four digits of your credit card on file—is that correct? You type, “Yes” and then confirm your shipping address. The jeans are now on their way to your house for half price with free shipping and in the confirmation you get the following message: “We’re sure you’ll love your new pair of jeans, but if not, just reply “Help” and we’ll work to make things right. Have a great day!”

Gartner’s prediction will most likely come true this year. Facebook already has our eyeballs and thumbs captive and now you’ll have a seamless, automated experience.

No more dancing while you wait on hold. No more touchtone dialing. And probably a lot less support staff too. Most likely, you’ll have a prompt to get someone to call you if you really need to talk to someone in person—but who likes talking on the phone these days?

As Jay has eloquently covered in “Hug Your Haters“, the lines between marketing, sales, and customer service are no longer clear. We have to work together and embrace creating a customer experience that is seamless, valuable, and embraces technological advances. It is time to start considering the implications of having commerce, support and marketing all within a simple chat window.

Thank you, Skynet.

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