Chatbots created a buzz as an innovative method for interacting with customers in 2016; how will 2017 measure up?
The past 12 months have seen big brands advocate the use of chatbots. Facebook, Google, Apple and Amazon are all Goliaths in their respective fields, pioneering the use of messaging to allow consumers to place orders or map journeys. It was only a matter of time before the travel industry, a sphere where 24-hour information and service is in demand, took steps to capitalise on the benefits chatbots afford. However, as machine learning pushes bots to increasing heights of sophistication, travel brands ought to prepare for customer expectation to rise in response.
So, how can brands utilise chatbots to full effect over the coming months? It is important to bear in mind that the booking process for travel is much more convoluted than other ecommerce sectors. Customers are in the market for a holiday, yet have made no firm decisions about the details of their trips. Some consumers might arrive a little further down the funnel, needing less guidance and with a more focused approach; however, each will require different information, dependent on which stage in the buying funnel they are at. The design of your chatbot needs to take this into account.
Tnooz suggests the key is not to over reach your design and to think of the bot in terms of how it can solve a customer problem or serve a need. They are most suited to tasks with clearly defined parameters with specific goals instead of those that take place at the start of the buyer's journey which is a much more open-ended and subjective experience. Single-use chatbots will prove useful for collecting or providing specific information, thus automating key points in the booking process; effective multipurpose bots may still be a flicker in the future. However, chatbot technology is evolving all the time - we expect to see increased capabilities as we progress through 2017.
The rise in mobile will also provide the perfect foundation for chatbot usage to grow.
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