If recent trends are any indication, this year is going to be a banner one in the evolution of business-consumer relations. The ways in which the two interact and communicate has been experiencing an overhaul; consumers now have a multitude of channels by which they can connect with brands and vice versa. Gone are the days of one-way communication. Today’s consumers require mutual, real-time interaction, and brands are now discovering that they must adapt, or be left behind in a rapidly advancing digital age. Here at SnatchBot, we expect the evolution of this relationship to reach new heights in 2017, and we’ve put together some trends that we can all expect to see in the coming months.
1. Brands will learn the art of conversation.
By its very definition, a dialogue is a discussion between two entities, and that’s exactly what brands need to do—open a dialogue with their consumers. No longer will one-way marketing tactics and outreach strategies suffice for the modern brand.
The use of chatbots boomed in 2016, and we expect that this year will see businesses developing these tools to become more conversational—opening dialogues with consumers in a way that allows not only outreach and service, but paying necessary attention to what their customers are saying in order to learn, interpret and regard consumers’ demands.
The expectation is that chatbots will shift in functionality from being assistants and service providers to something of an advisory role. For example, SnatchBot, which has created bots for some of the world's premier brands, uses a revolutionary approach that blends the smartest ML (machine learning) and AI (artificial intelligence) technologies with the peerless conversational design.
What this means is that bots will facilitate clients and brands engaging in a meaningful way that is beneficial to both parties, rather than the transaction-based relationships of the past.
2. Brands will further realise the importance of text.
We still call that device in your pocket a “phone,” though we all know it’s so much more now. In fact, research shows that the number-one use of smartphones is actually data, surpassing regular voice calls. And when people communicate via data, what they’re really doing is communicating via text, be it on social media, on a website, or with an app.
Text-savvy brands are making strides to optimise these channels because they are beginning to realise that to reach today’s consumer, they need to replicate the peer-to-peer experience that people are becoming accustomed to via any messaging channel.
A recent study showed that almost 70% of customers prefer service-based messages to be sent to their phone.This is why the SnatchBot team developed the broadcast message function, which allows a bot to send marketing notifications to all users. Each time a user chats with your page via any channel—for example, Skype—they become a subscriber. With the broadcast message, you can essentially message thousands of subscribers at once to notify them of content updates, news, or anything else pertinent to your business.
But it’s not enough to simply replicate an experience; shrewd companies understand that they must engage their customers on a platform in which they want to do business, and develop strategies that create value across multiple channels in real-time.
3. Brands will target more than just millennials.
There’s no denying that millennials are the premier target demographic when it comes to tech outreach, and yet there’s another generation that is nearly as large and often overlooked. Baby boomers—those over the age of 50 and under 72, as of 2017—occupy an enormous percentage of the population, but a combination of age and the fact that they did not grow up as “digital natives” often excludes them from new digital marketing strategies.
The baby boomer may not have been weaned on digital technology, but they’re quickly making up for it by embracing new trends, particularly in the mobile market. According to a 2016 article in Bloomberg Technology, tech-savvy baby boomers (which have been dubbed “silver surfers”) have more disposable income than the millennial generation, which means that brands will need to ensure that their marking strategies target a wider range of potential consumers.
4. Brands will return to the fundamentals.
Considering the rate at which technology currently advances, there seems like there is constantly some new tech of which to take advantage, something to call the “next big thing.” However, technology for the sake of technology is never a good idea, and every company, large or small, has a limit to their resources.
For all these reasons, we believe we’re going to start seeing businesses getting back to basics, refocusing on key points and spending less time keeping up with the pace of digital advancement. For any brand, the biggest core fundamental is customer service, and improving those interactions is going to be emphasised to such a degree that those that manage to perfect it will likely leave competitors in the dust. Returning to basics and mastering fundamentals will ultimately not only improve but also simplify consumer experiences a meaningful way.
5. Businesses that are proactive will succeed.
This may seem like an obvious point, but even in today’s digital world, there is a multitude of brands that are resistant to change, clinging to outmoded practices and attempting to retrofit old decision-making strategies to new problems. Historically, brands in the industries of healthcare and insurance are the last to adapt. But in an increasingly immersive and, by extension, competitive business world, adaptation will not only be valuable, but necessary.
These developments in the brand-consumer relationship will undoubtedly create new challenges, but can also mitigate other barriers that threaten to alienate customers in a world where global reach is possible at the push of a button or the stroke of a key. The potential consumer base is higher than ever, and with that comes an inherent complexity that, if overcome, can lead to unprecedented growth and success.
For instance, language barriers will become a thing of the past. That’s why SnatchBot employs a unique matching learning methodology, allowing people who speak different languages to communicate simply by speaking directly to their counterpart without interrupting the conversation. With SnatchBot, you can create a bot in your native language and have it translated into any language you want; a company spokesperson in Mexico who speaks Spanish can communicate clearly with consumers in China, regardless of a language barrier.
If you’ve been paying attention, you can see that none of these points is altogether original ideas, but rather ones that brands have lost sight of with the disruption of new tech and direct marketing practices. Brands that rise to the occasion, be proactive and implement the fundamental of establishing a dialogue with consumers will undoubtedly thrive.