SOCi is yet another company operating in the Localogy ecosystem to launch a new product well-timed for the moment.
According to SOCi, the SmartBot lets multi-location businesses deploy conversational chatbots across thousands of individual business Messenger accounts. Businesses can also embed the SmartBot at other locations, for example, local websites, to capture traffic from across the Internet. SOCi reportedly sped up the SmartBot launch to meet the moment.
“As the nation begins to reopen in this time of uncertainty, consumers will have more questions than ever. It is more critical than ever for businesses to be prepared to answer these questions and drive customers to the right outcomes, even outside of normal business hours,” said Afif Khoury, CEO of SOCi. “SOCi SmartBotTM gives multi-location brands the ability to easily deploy hundreds of chatbots locally that can answer frequently asked questions and move the customer down the brand’s acquisition funnel.”
Here is some further detail from the SOCi product announcement today:
Beyond answering customer questions 24/7, SOCi SmartBot deploys conversational artificial intelligence to drive valuable call-to-actions for multi-location businesses, including phone calls, visits to websites, lead generation, and appointment bookings. Lead information, conversation history, and all other social engagements are easily managed across all locations in a single, centralized platform.
Crisis Highlights Demand for Chat
The chatbot’s launch syncs with several longer-term trends, including:
- More communication happens outside of normal business hours. According to SOCi, 60% of customers seek customer support after hours.
- Consumers prefer messaging. SOCi says two-thirds of consumers prefer messaging over other modes of communication (e.g., email, telephone).
- Messaging is becoming a commercial channel. A recent two-month SmartBot test involving 11 Messenger business pages produced 59 appointment bookings.
Accelerating Existing Trends
The coronavirus pandemic is accelerating trends that were in motion before the crisis.
Businesses shutting down or going virtual elevates the importance of communicating with customers 24/7. Additionally, the crisis has elevated the importance of developing new commercial channels. And messaging apps and chatbots, while in the early stages of being true eCommerce channels, do offer this capability.
Finally, when companies are operating on a lean crew, as most are today, tools like SmartBot can act as a force multiplier for resource-strained local businesses.
And of course, the surge in social traffic since the crisis began makes now a very opportune time to roll out a tool like SmartBot.
For more on the potential for messaging apps as a marketing channel, check out our two-part series from November 2019.