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How AI Chatbots Improve Customer Relationships
Blog Feature

By: Mark Kilens

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February 15th, 2021

How AI Chatbots Improve Customer Relationships

Marketing doesn’t end when buyers make a purchase. By continually enhancing your relationship with a customer, you increase the chance that their journey with you continues—and continues profitably.

The purchase is just one step in the customer lifecycle. With a customer lifecycle marketing strategy, your marketing evolves from separate campaigns to an always-on approach. 

AI chatbots are a vital tool in customer lifecycle marketing, enabling your team to provide the best possible customer experience without increasing headcount. 

This article dives into AI chatbots, customer lifecycle marketing, and how they can work together to improve customer relationships, increase customer lifecycle value, and reduce churn.

What is customer lifecycle marketing?

Marketers have traditionally focused on customer acquisition. Once they’ve made it through your marketing funnel or been passed to sales, you move on to the next campaign. 

The customer lifecycle broadens that view, encapsulating the buyer’s entire experience with your brand. The customer lifecycle is used to describe the different steps a customer takes as they learn about a product, make a purchasing decision, and remain loyal to a particular brand. 

Customer lifecycle marketing is the marketing strategy that involves studying the entire customer journey, moving from the first point of contact, nurturing leads through the buying cycle, and into post-purchase, where the focus is on deepening the relationship to ensure long-term loyalty and repeat purchases.

Customer lifecycle marketing changes your marketing philosophy from one focused on separate demand generation campaigns to an approach that is always on, providing various touchpoints throughout the customer journey that enhance their experience.

Where do AI chatbots fit into customer lifecycle marketing?

Chatbots are software applications that use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to understand what a human wants, then guide them to their desired outcome with as little work for the end user as possible. Like a virtual assistant for your customer experience touchpoints.

A well-designed chatbot will:

  1. Use existing conversation data (if available) to understand the type of questions people ask.
  2. Analyze correct answers to those questions through a ‘training’ period.
  3. Use machine learning and natural language processing (NLP) to learn context, and continually get better at answering those questions in the future.

When infused with AI, chatbots can improve on their own to deliver experiences buyers have come to expect. 

The personalization and immediate service buyers receive from top consumer brands—such as Netflix, Amazon, and Spotify—have raised the bar. Customers now expect B2B brands to offer a similar experience. 

Here are four ways that AI chatbots and Conversational Marketing deliver superior experiences that enhance customer relationships:

1. You meet customers in the right channels

You need to meet buyers where they are. Putting a customer service phone number and email address on your website is no longer enough. 

Instead, AI-powered live chat generates higher engagement rates and a superior experience than traditional channels.

“You have to invest in conversational channels – online chat and social media. Studies show that customer satisfaction rates for chat are as high as 92% – greater than any other channel. That’s because live chat enables you to have a back-and-forth conversation, resolving multiple questions in real-time.” – Hannah Steinman, COO, Peak Support

2. It enables personalization at scale

Not all buyers are the same. You don’t answer a cold sales email in the same way you respond to a friend—your buyers expect the same treatment. At different points in their lifecycle, AI chatbots greet and engage with contacts differently.

According to Accenture, 83% of customers are willing to share their data to personalize experiences. How can you put that data to good use?

  • Treat your existing customers the way they want to be treated, greeting them as if they are returning for support or to research further.
  • Give target accounts a VIP experience. Address them by name, make them an offer specific to them, and route them to a human as quickly as possible. 

From the first touchpoint, a chatbot should recognize the visitor to service them with the proper greeting.

3. You can provide answers quickly

AI-powered chat gets better over time. It can utilize all available data—existing conversation data, pages visited, conversations with other similar buyers—to contextualize its questions and answers. 

This might include:

  • Routing an existing customer to the customer service team or the contact’s assigned rep as soon as they’re available.
  • Making it as easy as possible for highly-engaged leads to find pricing information or schedule a demo.
  • Serving the right support articles based on the buyer’s activity and messages.

Accuracy is one of the first metrics you should analyze to understand chatbot performance.

4. Always-on, scalable service

Not only can chatbots generate leads or increase your site’s conversion rate, but they can support the entire customer lifecycle. 

Perfect for high-volume support inquiries, chatbots help combat customer churn. Chatbots are available 24/7 and are easily scalable. In fact, the more inquiries a chatbot receives, the smarter it gets. 

If you have a large knowledge base, chatbots can field customer service requests and quickly sort through available resources. This keeps customers satisfied and avoids the frustrating hold music.

To learn more about how Conversational Marketing can support the entire customer lifecycle, check out the Conversational Marketing Blueprint. It tells you everything you need to know about Conversational Marketing and how to use it to accelerate revenue and achieve maximum results.

Get free access to the 2021 State of Marketing AI Report: https://www.marketingaiinstitute.com/2021-state-of-marketing-ai-report

About Mark Kilens

Mark Kilens is VP of Content and Community at Drift where he leads the blogging, editorial, social, Drift Insider, and HYPERGROWTH teams. Prior to joining Drift, he served as VP and founder of HubSpot Academy.

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