‘They’re cheaper and they never sleep’ – why high-performing marketers turn to chatbots

Marketers looking for an easy route into artificial intelligence should already be developing and integrating chatbots into their customer service, the boss of Lewis PR China has said.

Eric Thain: “We just want a different experience”

Eric Thain, who also heads the agency’s digital division, argued that brands can find no “cheaper” or “more efficient” investments in technology than by replacing part of their customer service with a conversational robot.

Speaking during the Mumbrella360 Asia conference in Singapore last year, Thain claimed he had seen whole customer service departments replaced by chatbots. In addition, he argued that by 2020, 85 per cent of all customer interactions will not even require humans.

“We just want a different experience,” he said.

Chatbots are the easiest and most efficient way for brands to get into AI. They are very cheap and they can give brands an immediate return on investment.

“One big sporting brand took five days to reply to me on Facebook. If it had had a chatbot, this issue wouldn’t have happened. There’s no waiting time. They work across all platforms. And they understand human language. And it remembers; you speak to it, one year later it remembers. A human would not be able to do that. It’s cheaper, can access a specific image with ease and they never rest.”

As an example, Thain claimed the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China replaced 9,000 members of its customer service team with a chatbot.

However, he argued, brands which use existing platforms for their chatbots, such as iMessenger, WeChat and What’s App will stand a better chance of engaging with consumers than those who require a new app download.

“We just don’t like downloading a bunch of apps anymore,” he said. “App downloading decreased by 90 per cent in the US last year. And here you can just do everything on WeChat.”

He added that already there were 150,000 chatbots on Facebook, with Sony, Kia, Tommy Hilfiger and Disney being among the most high-profile brands on board.

Thain: ‘Here you can just do everything on WeChat’

He added: “From about 2015 to a couple of years from now, we are going to see about 400 per cent growth in data. For me that’s unimaginable how much will be out there. No human sitting behind a computer can process it and the only solution is AI and machine learning.

“High performing marketers are two times more likely to use AI than under-performing ones. In two years time, AI will be the highest adoption over any other technology.”


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