An influx of brand marketers have started testing artificial intelligence (AI)-powered chatbots as a means to offer product information and customer service 24/7 through consumers’ smartphones.
eMarketer’s Tricia Carr spoke with Dave King, CTO at Madison Reed, and Heidi Dorosin, the hair color brand’s CMO, about how it developed its chatbot for SMS and Facebook Messenger to help customers make better purchase decisions.
eMarketer: What led you to test AI and chatbots at Madison Reed?
Dave King: We wanted to use photo recognition to remove that last bit of guesswork for our customers who complete our online Color Advisor survey, which helps them find their best hair color. Rather than look at swatches to identify their current color, we latched onto photo recognition to determine the customer's true current hair color.
When we started testing photo recognition, we realized uploading a photo to our website is not a natural behavior for our customers, but taking a selfie is. Sharing a selfie in a chatbot experience felt like a much more natural experience for an online consultation.
eMarketer: What did you learn once you started redesigning the survey for the chatbot experience?
King: The customer needed a way to get help if the bot couldn’t do everything she wanted. It’s relatively uncommon in the chatbot world to have a conversation go freely between the bot and a live person, but quickly thereafter, we built a live chat integration.
Using AI and the technology that drives the conversation, our bot recognizes if the customer has reached a dead spot in the conversation and recommends speaking to a live colorist. When it flips over, the colorist receives a full transcript of the chatbot session and can continue where the bot left off. The colorist can flip back to the bot when the conversation is done.
Now we're working on a number of post-purchase capabilities. Our chatbot will let the customer know when she has an upcoming subscription that's about to renew. If she's not a subscriber but orders on a regular cadence, the bot tells her when it’s time to color again and can prompt a reorder.