At Pull we specialise in brand transformation, occupying that sweet spot space where brand and technology meet. That means we’re an innovative lot and interested in all thing’s technical; in particularly AI, machine learning and of course, chatbots.
But why chatbots? Simply because as a brand agency, we welcome any device, tool or technology that enables a brand to better communicate and support their customers. It is what great brands do.
One industry that is embracing this trend is the global beauty industry. Estimated to be worth US$265 billion, the industry hasn’t wasted any time experimenting with these new technologies. In fact, the last few years has seen major brands such as Sephora, L’Oréal and Estee Lauder adopting the technology, with all three launching bots via Facebook Messenger.
Such an innovative spirit is wonderful, but how do we deem these bots a success? Do they promote the brands, support the business strategy or generate revenue? Do they provide a solution to a problem and do they provide value to the customer?
To answer these questions, I embarked on a little experiment - by taking some of these chatbots out for a spin.
The test group: Sephora, L’Oréal and Estee Lauder
What is it? A chatbot called “Sephora Assistant” which allows users to try on looks, book a makeover or share store feedback.
The experience: After the initial greeting, I was presented with four options - “Makeovers”, “Looks”, “Help”, and “Store Feedback”. I decided I was in the mood for a transformation, so after choosing ‘Looks’ and scrolling through the options, I decided to give the “winged liner and red lips” look a whirl.
Unfortunately, that was a far as I could go as that feature was only available on the App. (I was viewing on desktop). And that was that. The bot gave me the option to “shop the look” but at that stage I was feeling a bit bored and deflated and so decided to sign off. Overall a little boring, no personality and only works on mobile. Would I purchase based on experience? Probably not.
What is it? A bot called “Beauty Gifter” which also goes by the name of Carmen. Carmen asks questions in order to sell personalised makeup and skin care gifts.
The experience: A really engaging bot, with a lot of the personality I was missing from Sephora. Great questions, and great answers. Fun, and really engaging. The downside? Carmen moves a little too fast in her dialog and needs to give the user more time to read the questions and multiple-choice answers. Another negative was the push to get me to sign up to receive a promo code on email - It came across a little too pushy. I wasn’t madly impressed with the gift options either; would I purchase based on the experience? Probably not.
What is it? A foundation finder and beauty advisor specialising in night-time skin care
The experience: This started off well. The tone of voice was friendly, conversational and super sassy! Unfortunately, I got a little too engaged and asked questions outside of the bot’s programming which threw it off (story of my life)!
With me behaving myself, things soon got back on track and this time I stuck to the multiple-choice answers provided. In all, it was not a bad experience if you stay within the “lines”, and I quite liked the bot’s cheeky personality (or rather, the programmer’s). I look forward to when this bot can understand and engage with free form text. Would I purchase based on the experience? Yes, definitely.
Estee Lauder; not as advanced as the L’Oréal bot, but I loved the fun personality and the simplified process meant I was more likely to purchase the products at the end of the process. Important when you consider the ROI of investing in a chatbot.
What else did I learn from this process? Well, if you are going to enter into the arena of AI and Chatbots, and there are plenty of reasons why you should, make sure you have a reason to do it. Ask yourself if it aligns with the overall strategy and purpose of your organisation. Always start with the data and make sure you assign the right people in your business to own the project. You know who they are, the curious and the innovative.
And lastly, make sure the bot truly represents your brand in the tone of voice and the way that it deals with customers. If a customer’s experience with a brand is negative it doesn’t matter if the exchange was a real person or an artificial bot. Likewise, if the experience is positive, they’ll be back.