If you are part of the team that manages your company’s digital infrastructure, you’re likely familiar with new ways brands are using artificial intelligence to expand customer outreach. We’re all about listening to customer feedback at Wondersauce. We’re interested in how brands utilize voice computing (ie Alexa) and chatbots to not just talk at their customers, but have a conversation with them.

When used the right way, advancements like these do more than just help customer experiences with improved utility, they signal a brand’s commitment to innovation as a forward looking organization. Here’s some key points to consider as you delve into this new space.

Voice Computing / Artificial Intelligence:

We live in a world where one of the most popular shows on TV is a Wild West theme park filled with artificially intelligent robots that seem human. People are using Amazon Echo’s Alexa, Google Home, Microsoft’s Cortana, and Apple’s Siri to interact with computers in ways never seen before, sometimes with hilarious consequences. Take the 6-year-old ordering a dollhouse and a news anchor repeating “Alexa, buy me a dollhouse,” causing viewers at home to almost order the same; or, the results of someone having two Google Home’s talking sassily at each other.

AI in new products and services will allow you to serve customers in new ways, doing anything from building a chatbot to teaching voice platformsskills about your brand that provide utility to users. In doing so, we’re curious to see how brands use AI to help customers learn about new products, promotions, and other yet-unknown ways that voice activations are different. This is bad news for brands because people will not ask a computer for Energizer or Duracell — they will go “Ok Google, buy me batteries.”

What actions does a computer respond with when someones asks about your product? How does your brand come into it, and more importantly, what’s your strategy behind why it responds in the way it does? Someone asking for sports scores will not be surprised when ESPN comes up; so, what are the situations where your brand should be the answer?

Each brand will ultimately need to have their own answers for these questions. For consumers, the kind of utility that a voice speaking to you provides is fundamentally different than anything before it. Even on a secondhand basis via Google, Apple, Amazon or Microsoft. How are people talking to your brand? Experimenting early and often will be helpful to make sure the utility you provide for voice is something that your users want.

Chatbots

Chatbots are another form of interaction that is only beginning to take off, similarly powered by the AI boom. Most companies experimenting in this space are looking to China’s WeChat, trying to play catch up to the capabilities that Tencent has established. Features inspired by WeChat have appeared in Snapchat’s SnapCash and Facebook’s Messenger with chatbots.

Chatbots and AI will test the technical limits of your organization. Creating a bot that successfully discusses all potential use cases a user throws at it is nearly impossible, but there are ways to limit how the bot functions that actually helps users.

Chatbots are all about the actions (or options) that they enable consumers to do. For example, one fashion brand sends users two photos of different outfits to give them options around style, and to help the bot learn the user’s taste. A major news publisher only gives you two options: “Top Stories” and “Contact”. Whatever you decide to do: keep it simple and only provide two options at a time.

 

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We think a good user experiences looks like the left, while a confusing one is on the right.

 

Understanding how functional a bot must be for your brand is essential to know if you should be building one. What’s the utility, the experience that will wow, you can provide that no one else can?

Building a bad experience, no matter how innovative it is, is more damaging than helpful. That’s why we focus on making incremental moves that help us learn what works and what doesn’t, helping us build a stronger tool.

The second part of a chatbot is where the experience happens, not just what it enables. Is it creating real-time chat with a personalization of your brand on a website? Or do you need to build a bot that lives across many social platforms, including ones like Kik, that serves as wide an audience as possible?

This is another reason starting small and testing, learning what works and what doesn’t, works. Rapidly-prototyping with minimally viable experiments, whether it’s chatbots or something else, makes the probability for success increase dramatically.

Execution

Branding today is more than words, websites, social media profiles, and campaigns — it’s about how interacting with a brand on and offline makes you as a consumer feel. If your company doesn’t think it can execute well on the above, then go slowly and be careful. The growing pains of new technologies cause even Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft headaches on a daily basis. Playing to the strengths of your organization will allow you to focus on what you’re good at for marketing, which provides better results.

At the end of the day, good execution is the best way to make sure your brand infrastructure is rock solid.

 

This post originally appeared on Medium. See the original here