It’s no secret how quickly advancements in technology are changing the digital landscape and diversifying how people talk to one another online – and automation is very much at the forefront.
But as more organisations look into enhancing their everyday communication, it’s important to remember that such systems have been developed to – among other reasons – further assist instant, social media conversations with customers.
There’s no doubt that with the rise in social media came an unprecedented demand for organisations to be more responsive in real-time. And that’s when the challenge was set for marketers everywhere. How could they continue to communicate with their audience online, throughout various platforms, at such a rapid rate?
Automation has seemingly gone some way into answering that customer conundrum and helping brands get their messages out on a global scale, so there is no question that such systems are being taken seriously.
In fact, the stats back this theory up as it’s already been predicted that by 2020, 85% of all customer service interactions will be handled without a human agent. Yes, the reasons are multiple, but among the key catalysts are a desire to enhance individuals’ online journeys and experience of a brand.
It’s true that organisations have been recognising automation’s powerful ability to be impactful, and yet simplistic in operation. Many use it as a way of providing a 24/7 communications service – especially in response to 72% of millennials saying they prefer online communication to a phonecall. With an ‘always on’ system in place too, it can reduce marketers’ time pressures, workload and increase their productivity.
Real-time ways to converse online
Having such a solid piece of social media armour for any organisation – whether it has millions of followers or is just starting out – means more are latching onto a variety of automated methods to converse with their audiences. From scheduling services to interactive satisfaction surveys and polls, customers are speaking to brands in numerous ways.
Organisations are going even further as well, by using chatbot services to help problem solve and answer questions within seconds. It’s anticipated that 40% of large businesses will be launching a chatbot or another type of intelligent assistant in the next year too.
With so many valuable avenues to ‘break the ice’ on social media, customers might not even be directly engaging a brand as they interact between themselves. Whether they are sharing, liking or commenting, audiences are almost adopting an ‘ambassador-like’ status as they chat about an organisation without them even being involved, and encouraging a trusting word-of-mouth endorsement for others.
It’s not just limited to customers either. Staff can now use their organisation’s automated services to contribute to the development of the brand by sharing relevant news and taking ownership of generating more online conversations and engagement, all at the touch of a button.
So what does all of this mean for organisations?
Lead generation. Whilst customers are talking about the brand – and staff are helping to steer conversations to complement their 24/7 automated service – each marketer is being provided with crucial, detailed insights to further tailor social media content and keep their online community happy.
That means for those further down the customer journey than others, organisations can afford to become more direct, but remain personable, with their automated forms of communication – from direct mailings to purchase confirmation messages and targeted social media content.
However, whilst showcasing how brands are using automation to speed up customer conversations and response times – as well as resolve problems more efficiently – it also has to be acknowledged that there will always be challenges when developing ways to improve online service.
Marketers have raised concerns over automation removing the human interaction element that makes them stand out, and be relatable. They want to be sociable and produce creative outputs to tell a story that resonates with audiences but fear such systems are hindering this process.
Some have gone even further with their warnings too, saying that over-automation could prove detrimental as people search for a more unique experience – with 83% of people in fact preferring human interaction when handling customer service issues.
So whilst we understand that automation is changing the way in which brands and customers talk, we also need to recognise that there is still scope for a hybrid solution of humans and machines working together.
The next step for organisations is to figure out how that works best for their customers and their own brand, how they avoid becoming ‘anti-social’, and understanding when to rely on an automated service alongside human interaction to provide all-encompassing digital communication.
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