The Data Digest: Chatbots Can’t Fully Replace Humans Just Yet

Kristopher Arcand
Customer service departments in all industries are increasing their use of chatbots, and we will see usage rise even higher in the next year as companies continue to pilot or launch their own versions of the rule-based digital assistant. What are chatbots? Forrester defines them as autonomous applications that help users complete tasks through conversation.
While Forrester’s Consumer Technographics® data reveals that 60% of US online adults already use online messaging, voice, or video chat services, there are challenges to widespread adoption. We reached out to our ConsumerVoices Market Research Online Community members to better understand consumer impressions of chatbots and found that our respondents had a difficult time identifying clear benefits to interacting with them. Many prefer to communicate with a representative who can show real empathy, address more complex needs, and offer them assurance.
Earlier this month, I attended the Qual360 2017 conference in Washington, D.C., where chatbots were a hot topic in both qualitative research and customer experience. Speakers highlighted the opportunity of chatbots while warning about their shortcomings. For example:
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Don't Alienate Loyal Customers: How To Step Up Your Email Game

Emily Collins

In the realm of multichannel customer communications, email is still king. It’s the easiest to send, it’s inexpensive and it’s the channel on which most marketers rely to connect with all kinds of customers. Email marketing is ingrained and inexpensive, but as a result, many marketers abuse it, defaulting to a routine batch-and-blast approach. In 2015 alone, U.S. online users received 3.7 trillion emails. Today’s email practices fail loyal customers because they treat everyone the same way and struggle to deliver basic relevance.

Over-emailing is a persistent problem, and marketers face cultural inertia trying to get over the notion that if they email enough, the customer will eventually take action. One incremental email for a thousand customers may only cost you a single dollar, but the emotional value given up from an annoyed customer will cost you in future purchases and in investment needed to rebuild a loyal customer relationship from scratch. In essence, the long-term investment in building a relationship with loyal customers is compromised because of a short-sighted push for conversion.

Marketers can’t afford to alienate loyal customers. After all, those customers are the ones who want to engage with you in the first place. According to Forrester’s Consumer Technographics data, 58% of loyalty program members subscribe to a brand’s email list, compared with just 28% of consumers overall. It’s time for a reboot.

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Brands On Social Crisis: "The Sky Is Falling!"

Jessica Liu
Much ink has been spilled over United Airlines' latest public incident and social media's role in rapidly spreading video of a passenger being dragged off an airplane. Today's consumers are more polarized than ever and increasingly expressing their opinions and showing their own values in the way they spend their money. Brands worry about making missteps on social media and falling out of favor, prompting them to ask: "How can my brand respond to a social crisis?" In reality, the question they should be asking is: "How can my brand plan for any social crisis so that when it hits, our response is clear and automatic?"
Navigating today's social environment requires returning to crisis management basics. Brands with established and rehearsed crisis management plans — no matter the channel — will rise above the fray. In our latest Forrester report, "Social Crisis Management: Get Back To Basics," we discuss social crisis management 101:  
  • Let your brand pillars be your guide. Your brand's values should be the foundation for how your brand behaves in all situations, including on social media. Sure, brand values can be malleable but they should be strong enough to prepare you for worst-case scenarios. 
  • Document your tolerance for brand risk. Companies must also have a stated and widely-known policy for brand risk, such as a willingness to take chances with brand reputation or a threshold for negative publicity. 
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Engage Customers With Mobile Wallet Marketing

Xiaofeng Wang

Forrester predicts that the future of mobile wallets will go far beyond mobile payments. In the West, this vision is still a work in progress. However, Chinese digital juggernauts Alipay and WeChat have morphed their mobile wallets into rich customer engagement platforms. My latest report, “Engage Customers With Mobile Wallet Marketing,” tells what global players can learn from Asia’s digital leaders.

Alipay and WeChat show marketers the future of mobile wallets. While mainstream Western mobile wallets primarily focus on payments, pioneer mobile wallets in China have taken aggressive steps and become powerful customer engagement tools with innovative features — such as WeChat’s social gifting and Alipay’s augmented reality (AR) coupons and red packets. Their mobile wallet innovations span the customer life cycle (see figure).

The mobile wallet of the future is closer than you think. Market-entry obstacles like different business cultures, consumer behaviors, and regulations make it unlikely that Alipay and WeChat will operate directly in other markets beyond targeting Chinese travelers. However, the successful marketing use cases developed on Alipay and WeChat Wallet will inspire third-party players like Apple and PayPal to morph their mobile wallets into more powerful customer engagement platforms. In the next few years, we expect to see that:

  • Emerging mobile wallets will develop features like Alipay and WeChat. We expect mobile wallet innovations to happen more quickly in emerging markets with less legacy and competition. Paytm in India is a good example.
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Nature or Nurture? Culture As A Cornerstone Of Global Branding

Dipanjan Chatterjee

The Earl of Greystoke would have grown up in an idyllic English manor, sipping tea and munching on clotted cream biscuits, were it not for a rather unfortunate turn of events that left him orphaned in equatorial Africa, being raised by a she-ape. At the heart of Edgar Rice Burroughs' tales of Tarzan, which have captivated audiences for over 100 years, lies an elemental question: what makes us who we are – nature or nurture?

In my last blog post (Marketing's Dirty Little Secret), I discussed the biology of behavior and how we are wired to ride the express-lane for decision making. This is an area of investigation that is gathered much steam, including work done by Forrester (see How People Choose by Shar VanBoskirk). This interest in consumer neuroscience has led us to another intriguing area of inquiry: How do we account for cultural context in the biology of behavior? How does nurture shape the biological nature of our decision making?

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Uber....Pepsi....The Ringling Brothers Circus.....

Jim Nail

Three very different brands with an unfortunate commonality: Each has recently incurred the wrath of a growing segment that Forrester calls the values-based consumer.

Last week at Forrester’s Consumer Marketing Forum, my colleague Henry Peyret and I launched a new line of research. It helps marketers manage the trend of consumers looking beyond the direct, personal benefits they receive from a brand to also value the brand’s impact on society and the world. Paired with Anjali Lai’s powerful companion data report on how empowered consumers’ decision making is changing, this set of research represents a new dimension of Forrester’s overarching thesis on the age of the customer.

To be “customer obsessed,” brands need to do more than study their customers’ technology habits and the digital data they have about them, and even go beyond delivering extraordinary experiences. These are things all companies are trying to do today and will differentiate brands just until their competitors catch up. Increasingly, brands will be evaluated beyond the sum of their features, benefits, personality, and positioning. Tapping the increased transparency created by social technologies, consumers are able to choose brands that reflect their own beliefs on issues related to their personal interpretation of societal impact.

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US Consumer Wearables Forecast (2017-2022) Shows Smartwatches Will Drive Sales

Personal wearable devices adoption in the US rapidly increased in 2014 and 2015. But, Forrester’s US Consumer Wearables Forecast (2017-2022) shows that the market is now maturing and undergoing consolidation. The devices which offer higher utility to users will grow while devices offering lower utility gradually diminish in importance. This means that:

·         Future of wearables lies in smartwatches: Smartwatches are getting smarter every year. They now have a better and more intuitive user interface. The app ecosystem is also rapidly improving. For example, even cheaper smartwatches can now track your health and exercise with a high degree of accuracy. NFC payments at a superstore checkout also have greater traction as more stores now have required technology (this essentially involves using a mobile payment service such as Apple Pay or Samsung Pay installed on a smartwatch to pay). Newer software, such as Android Wear 2.0, offers great speech recognition capabilities and make the negative of small screen space redundant. Using Siri on Apple Smartwatches and, now, Google Assistant on Android Smartwatches (with Android Wear 2.0) you can search the web, manage appointments, holidays and e-mails. As the utility delivered by smartwatches grows and app ecosystem matures, the adoption and sales are likely to increase rapidly.

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Martech That Matters - And For Marketers Who Actually Use It

Peter O'Neill

(this is a modified version of a blog posted by my colleague Carl Doty on our B2C Marketing page)

Sick of scouring sector landscapes with thousands of vendor logos organized into loosely defined categories?  I mean, do you really need to know the names of scores of predictive analytics vendors out there?

What’s the total Martech ecosystem going to tally this year – 7000+ vendors?

Actually, yes. Yes it is. As my colleague Joe Stanhope wrote in a recent blog: “it’s hard to remember a time when there was such an unhealthy and unsustainable technology ecosystem.”

At Forrester, we’ve covered marketing technology and the now overused term – “left-brained marketing” - for nearly fifteen years.  We've come a long way as an industry since then, and today Forrester's B2B marketing clients now enjoy step-by-step playbooks like the Lead-To-Revenue Management (L2RM) Playbook that help them get more out of their technology investments. This is becoming more important every day. Why? Because marketing technology now commands one-fifth of overall marketing budgets for B2B marketers. That’s already a sizable chunk, and we expect it to climb quickly because 41% of these marketers tell us that they still lack the technology they need to grow their business.

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The Indian Online Retail Market: Amazon Versus Everyone Else

Satish Meena

The Indian online retail market is in flux. On April 10, Flipkart raised $1.4 billion and added eBay, Tencent, and Microsoft to an investor list that already includes Tiger Global Management, Naspers Group, Accel Partners, and DST Global. In addition, Softbank is working on selling Snapdeal, the third-largest online retailer in India, to Flipkart and investing in Flipkart to take on the rapidly growing Amazon. This realignment of investors follows the slowdown in India’s online retail growth rate in 2016: We slashed our online retail forecast for India by more than a third to $48 billion by 2020, down from the $75 billion we estimated last year, due to demonetization, eCommerce restrictions, dwindling funding, and slow growth in the number of buyers. What does Flipkart’s news mean for the key players specifically and the market in general?

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Go Ask Oprah: The 'O' Comes to Alexa

James McQuivey

Hearst magazines announced last week that Amazon Alexa users could invite Oprah -- or at least her voice -- into their homes. Fans of the media personality, which includes just about everyone, can ask Alexa to play a quote recorded by Oprah from her 2014 book What I Know For Sure. A different quote will play each day. Other than the fact that the whole thing promotes the book, there are no other sponsors yet. Though that can easily change, see my post on the rise of ads on voice interfaces a few weeks ago. Hearst and Amazon not are exchanging money in the deal, though honestly you could make an argument for both sides to believe the other should pony up some earnest money. After all, this is Oprah. And it's Amazon. When two big brands collide, you never know which one has the most leverage. Evidently they've decided to postpone resolving that question.

For now there is no intelligence applied to the process and that is the big missing piece. There are about 90 quotes that Oprah has recorded, a different one will play each day. The real potential here is when the Oprah skill adds a bare minimum of artificial intelligence. Imagine coming home and asking Oprah for words of wisdom based on your needs in the moment. "Alexa, ask Oprah for help with raising my teenager," or "Alexa, ask Oprah how to reignite my love life," or "Alexa, ask Oprah what special gift I should get my sister for her birthday."

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