SYDNEY: Brands must strike the right balance between utility, purpose and customer centricity in chatbot development to avoid being a flash in the pan, according to agency experts.

While AI and voice search are still in their infancy, chatbots are making real headway. Agencies in particular are excited about the possibilities offered by chatbots and messenger apps, according to research for WARC’s 2018 Toolkit, with 52% of agency execs expecting it to be important to their clients’ businesses, and 46% of brand marketers feeling the same.

In 2017, around 10 million Australians were using messaging apps, a figure expected to grow to 11.1 million by 2019. And as chatbots gain more industry buzz, demand is growing.

“We’ve got quite a few in-market already, but we are currently in development for five major chatbots for different brands around Australia and they are big names,” Douglas Nicol, co-founder of agency On Message which specializes in chatbots, told WARC. (For more details, read WARC’s exclusive report: Trend Report: Will 2018 be the year of the chatbot?.)

Likewise, Hamish Cargill, director of brand language for XXVI – an agency which specializes in brand language and tone – believes the trend is set to take off.

“Agencies see revenue and creative opportunities and anytime you can get in early on something that is a shiny toy and feel you like you’ve helped shape the direction of it, that’s something everyone wants to be part of,” he said.

With the need for cost savings ever-present for brand marketers, chatbots could offer a more efficient customer experience. (Find out how to get the most from your brand’s chatbot here: The secret to chatbot engagement? Keep it simple.)

“The more enlightened clients come at it from a cost-saving perspective,” said Nicol. “They see the half a million people calling into their call centre every year to ask question x, and at the moment, they have to wait four minutes to get an answer after they have validated who they are.”

XXVI’s Cargill stressed the importance of language and how it should link to the rest of a brand. “A lot of the people who want to design chatbots attempt to make them funky but if it doesn’t match your brand, it’s going to be a strange experience for people when they use it.”

Sourced from WARC