An Open Letter to Consumer Businesses: Give Us Chatbots, Please!

image credit: Zinios Technologies

“Alexa, tell Domino’s to place my Easy Order.” Domino’s, the pizza delivery joint known for supplying Super Bowl parties with cheesy goodness is at the bleeding edge of digital consumer interactions. This restaurant has an intuitive mobile app, tweet-enabled ordering, and surprisingly pleasant integrations with Facebook messenger and Amazon Echo. In relentlessly competitive markets, brands and companies struggle to maintain consumer attention. Domino’s, however, has succeeded by embracing emerging technology to meet consumers where they are.

Dear Big Business,

If you are reading this, please do not make a mobile app for us. We, your customers, don’t want it. But, you claim, Domino’s has one and they have successfully innovated — clearly apps are important. But we implore you to think about it from your perspective as a consumer — we all are consumers after all. How many food apps have you downloaded and entered credit card information on?

Right.

A subset of restaurants and consumer brands did catch the wave and create apps early on. But today the novelty has worn off, and consumers suffer from app fatigue in a cluttered and competitive marketplace. We simply have ceased to be impressed and now view more applications as cluttering, not streamlining our lives.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were one convenient go-to spot, one convenient UI, one convenient payment structure? There is. Welcome to the Chatbot economy, it is so nice of you to join us.

What is the Chatbot economy? Just ask Zuck:

“The future is already here — it’s just not very evenly distributed.” — William Gibson

Back with us? Good. Chatbots are a savior for businesses and consumers. They pave a future for ubiquitous access to information. A consumer can buy what she wants, when she wants, and how she wants — from you, of course. Speak to a bot as she peruses a magazine? No problem. Message it as she walks to class? Yep. Open an unfamiliar app with a custom UI, new password, and more questions? Never Again.

But you need facts and figures, we understand. In 2016, Business Insider released a report confirming Messaging Apps surpassed Social Networking Apps in monthly-active users in late 2015. This trend has only continued since. This means more potential customers per ad dollar and development dollar spent.

But what kind of business doesn’t get a second opinion? Well, how about two opinions from the world’s top strategy consulting firm McKinsey writing for one of the world’s top business journals, the Harvard Business Review? We hope this will suffice. These two expand upon the idea of app fatigue and relate the success stories of clothing company H&M along with 1–800-Flowers.com in what they have dubbed “conversational commerce.” (Got to love consultants and their buzzwords!) They view this area as a necessity for companies in the increasingly personalized consumer space.

Now that intelligent people have supported the business case, back to us.

We value relationships, and messaging allows us to build them in simple, non-intrusive, fleeting moments. We as consumers are undeniably familiar with messaging apps. We understand the UI and we use them everyday. There is no learning gap, simply place a Chatbot in the contact list and instantly billions of us understand how to interact with it. It just works, frictionless.

It is easy to get us engaged. Want us to become a Chatting Customer? Just have a mobile ad on Facebook or YouTube that opens a messaging conversation with something we care about. The next thing you can do?

DO NOT ASK US FOR CREDIT CARD INFO.

We will still be charged, but let us, the consumers, try the product first. Then when we are hooked, ask for our credit cards or better yet allow us to click a button that links to our Venmo accounts. With just one press we can pay for forever!

It is the Uberification (because people like buzzwords) of consumer shopping — we all get personal shoppers that know our preferences and are available at our beck and call. We will simply have a conversation and pay without feeling like we are paying. This is the world we are headed for; it would be so much better if you joined us.

So stop the mobile application development project, we don’t want it. Give us a bot to chat with instead. It is our world; give it to us on our terms.

Sincerely,

Your Consumers

follow Matthew Biggins on here or LinkedIn for more