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Why Your Chatbot Must Speak With Your Brand’s ‘Voice’

  • Written by  Adam Blair
Why Your Chatbot Must Speak With Your Brand’s ‘Voice’

0BlairPicWhen your advertising slogan is “Just the right amount of wrong,” and your commercials feature a combination of kinky S&M imagery with bunnies, puppies and kittens romping through the halls of your hotel, you just can’t have a boring chatbot. That’s why the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas created Rose, a bot that is “witty, sassy, bossy and confident — exactly who you would want to show you around Las Vegas,” according to Mamie Peers, VP of Digital Marketing for the hotel.

“Bots need to match your brand,” said Peers in a presentation at the Forrester Consumer Marketing conference, held April 5-6 in New York City. “For us, she’s a bot with a personality, our resident mischief maker. She’ll play jokes and games with people, take them on art tours of the property and talk about things to discover at the Cosmopolitan. She’ll say things like ‘I see your cocktail hand is empty. You can get wine by the glass for half price at one of our lounges.’”

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The bot has so much personality that some guests develop a fondness for it, or her. Peers said one guest commented:“Rose made my wife jealous.” The Cosmopolitan’s CEO joked with Peers that “If a divorce happens because of this bot, I will consider it a success.”

Brands considering bots or experimenting with voice commerce don’t need to go to the extremes that the Cosmopolitan does. They don’t necessarily need to hire comedy writers (as Panera Bread is considering doing). But they do have to define who they are. “If you haven’t defined who you are and what kind of person your brand would be, you have to think of that first,” Peers told me in a one-on-one conversation after her presentation. “Maybe you aren’t a funny brand or a warm brand; maybe you’re super-efficient and provide the fastest service. You also have to think through what the customer is after when they’re interacting with you or your bot.”

For the Cosmopolitan, Rose functions as much more than a simple marketing tool. She is a service tool for guests, for everything from requesting a replacement toothbrush to reporting a problem with a guest room. “She is an exceptional guest recovery platform,” said Peers. “Guests can send Rose a photo of their room if there’s something wrong in it.”

Rose began as a keyword-based bot in early 2017, and she can answer approximately 80% of the questions put to her, according to Peers. “When she can’t, she’ll route the query to guest services,” she added. “They can focus on elite problems of guest recovery, or provide concierge services that Rose can’t handle.”

Bot Users Spend More, Return More Often

The results with the bot during its first year of use have been strong. While only 8% of guests make use of Rose, those that do create a win-win situation for the hotel:

  • 69% of this group are “highly engaged”;
  • This group spends 30% more than non-users;
  • These guests return 11% of the time; and
  • Guests who text Rose are 33% more satisfied than non-users.

Now the Cosmopolitan has moved Rose beyond keywords and plugged in artificial intelligence (AI). “This version ‘talks’ to our loyalty program and our gaming system, so it has access to a lot more information about our customers,” said Peers. “This allows us to bring more of our own teams online. We’ve already brought our room reservations and room service people in, and in a few weeks we will bring our casino hosts,” into the system. These hosts are responsible for taking care of the “high rollers” that visit the Cosmopolitan.

The hotel wanted a solid base of interactions before expanding Rose to new areas. “We had the benefit of a year of conversations before moving into an AI platform, so now we can be more concise,” said Peers.

That’s another warning for other brands considering a move to bots: there really are no shortcuts. Another best practice from Peers is to make sure there are smooth transitions from bots to real humans, particularly when things start to get ugly.

“When a customer is upset, we switch to humans; we have Rose say, ‘Let me get someone to help you,” Peers told me. “We’ve learned cues in how people are texting that let us gauge when they are upset. We have a year of phrases, like ‘I didn’t expect this in my room’ or ‘I couldn’t fix this.’”

The hard work and the needed safeguards of adding a bot, whatever his/her/its personality, can bring significant rewards. “If you create an emotional connection with a customer, as we’ve done with Rose, you can present ideas to your customers, not just offers,” said Peers. “You know yourself that if a friend says to try a restaurant, you are likely to try it.”

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