Chatbots do look cool - but won't solve the biggest Problem Brands face when „chatting“ with Consumers.

A couple of years ago, a brand page on Facebook was supposed to be THE place for customer dialogue. Back then wall-postings by the brand and their fans were on an equal footing - hence: the Golden Age of Facebook shitstorms! Lots of fun for consumers, but bad for business (at times).

Then Facebook discovered their business model (sell brands the reach to their fans) and suddenly dialogue was relegated to the sidebar; down below where nobody will see it - hence: no more shitstorms, but shitloads of money from brands and their media agencies. Much better for Facebook and the brands, but no so much for a customer with a problem.

Fast forward to 2016. This year is supposed to be the year of something called „Conversational Commerce“ (short: #ConvComm) with a re-newed focus on starting a real dialogue with the customer - but this time no longer public and shitstorm-prone! Instead the conversations will (perhaps? probably?) move to chat services like WhatsApp or Facebook Messenger. And another big shift will support this - the shift from apps to bots

In theory a customer with a problem doesn’t care if a human being or a bot is on the other side of a conversation - as long as the problem gets solved. So with chat bots on the rise real 1-1 dialogue becomes economically viable for brands and a great option for the customer at the same time - win win (hopefully with a little bit of human assistance, if needed).

Sounds a bit like Science Fiction, doesn' it?

But as a matter of fact, it's already reality! KLM now started to use Facebook Messenger for customer support and it looks quite promising: 

This is one that I've been personally eager to solve for a while. Removing stress, and complication from air travel. I'm...

Posted by David Marcus on Wednesday, March 30, 2016
Receive your booking details via Messenger

Use Messenger to get on board. All your travel info in one place.

Posted by KLM on Wednesday, March 30, 2016

So far, so good. But still: the real issues with customer dialogue usually aren’t technical in nature. Very often companies just try to deflect customer complaints because there are no processes to really solve them or a real solution is just deemed to be too expensive.

And with this bots won’t be able to help. Brands have to get serious about really becoming customer-centric first!

If the dialogue in Messengers is seen as just another (hopefully more cost-effective) way to talk TO a customer, instead of WITH him, those shiny new chatbots will start handing out useless links to dead-end feedback forms pretty quickly — as their human predecessors have done for “ages”…!?

For more interesting cases of Conversational Commerce check out Chris Messina’s #ConvComm page on Product Hunt.