This week we’re joined by Chris Handy, Customer Marketing Leader with Drift: a leading conversational marketing (chatbot) platform!
After starting out as an early customer of Drift, Chris was amazed at the speedy responses and helpful adaptations that the company made regularly in response to his suggestions and feedback. Before long he started a partner agency with Drift, and then eventually joined the actual company itself! Their current service? Helping businesses enhance or accelerate their sales process with chatbots.
1. DRIFT AND THEIR CHATBOTS
As digital technologies kept evolving, Drift noticed that old marketing tactics hadn’t changed much over time…but conversion volume for many companies had.
Sometimes all a customer wants is to ask one question, but they don’t want to fill out a whole form and get added to a mailing list in the process.
Landing pages and forms, while still useful, don’t convert everybody. In fact, many website visitors would prefer to self-educate, rather than simply take whatever content a company is offering.
“Drift connects you now with the people who are already interested now, so you can build better pipeline faster.”
Drift’s automated Chatbots allow sales teams to chat with visitors immediately…but in a way that is far less intrusive to both the prospect and the sales representative.
It’s a “frictionless touch.”
Visitors can browse on their terms, and they can can connect directly to your phone when you’re away from your desk if they really need you. That way, that the people who are actually invested can still reach you, while the people who aren’t interested won’t interrupt what you’re doing.
2. WHAT ARE CHATBOTS?
Most of us have probably seen a chatbot or two online, even if we didn’t know what it was called yet. They’re those little instant-message bubbles that pop up in the bottom corner of a website, with a picture or a cartoon and a phrase like, “Do you have any questions today?”
Instead of communication over the phone or in a lengthy email chain, chatbot conversations can be shorter and more concise. They’re delivered in short, string-of-thought phrases – much like texting.
In fact, some programs (like Drift) connect directly to a sales rep’s phone so they literally are texting.
Best of all, customers are more willing to participate in the discussion because it requires no commitment from them. They can get an answer and then leave in ten seconds; no signup required.
Sometimes Drift’s bots will even turn the standard chatbot introduction on its head. Instead of expecting a prospect to ask a question, the bot’s introduction might say, “Can I ask YOU a quick question?” Then multiple-choice options are presented. The visitor can choose whether or not to respond and clarify if they’re looking for anything specific.
3. ARE ALL CHATBOTS ACTUAL BOTS?
For any companies who fear that automation feels impersonal…there’s a solution for that.
Some chatbots are entirely driven by A.I. while others always connect directly to sales teams. Drift’s product is a combination of the two.
Drift’s bot searches for content or online answers first, but can grab a sales rep if the conversation demands it. That way, the sales team isn’t distracted by simpler or more mundane requests. However, they don’t miss out on valuable, complex conversations with far more qualified leads.
“Let people raise their hand and sales reps will come running… If they’re not ready for that, why introduce this chase that doesn’t need to be there?”
This new way of B2B improves the buyer experience, and uses A.I. to determine which marketing assets or content offers might help solve a visitor’s problems.
Over time, the collection of customer inquiries can also help you figure out where you need to build your content library.
“People use that moment to upgrade their knowledge base. ‘Hey, they’re asking for this? Let’s find a way to automate that.’ So you chip away at automating support over time.”
4. WHAT’S TO COME IN 2019
When asked what 2019 will look like for his company, Chris shared a surprising revelation that’s very counterintuitive to a lot of business strategies.
Drift doesn’t set goals like other companies. They let client feedback steer the ship entirely.
Many companies, not just Drift, have often invested in huge projects that are developed “because we can,” without user input. Then the products aren’t received with as much as enthusiasm as the creators hoped.
Meanwhile, a quick tweak to a widget at the request of a customer may get raving reviews.
“What’s awesome is that we don’t have a product road map. We literally… follow what the customer needs.”
One example of a feature that Drift’s bots are developing is an email capture skill, which will serve as a universal gate for content. If people give their email to a bot, it’s a sign that they’re more invested and willing to exchange contact information in order to “skip the line.”
So, once someone has submitted their email once to a bot, they’ll be able to access any and all content that the site owners have to offer.
The bots can also connect directly to a sales representative’s calendar, so a lead can select a time for an appointment without the usual lengthy haggling that comes with syncing up two different schedules!
5. HOW CUSTOMER FEEDBACK SHOULD DRIVE BUSINESS
As many manufacturers and developers tragically discover on a regular basis, sometimes we build what no one wants. So, we have to pivot.
If one customer asks for something, they probably represent 1,000 other customers who thought the same thing but didn’t take the time to articulate it to you.
If you develop products without customer input, you have no guarantee that you’re creating something that’s actually useful or worthwhile to them. But if you create what people are asking for, you can’t really fail.
That’s how Drift got started. It’s also how their product has completely evolved over time. Contrary to concerns that automation and A.I. make the sales process less personal, Drift has proven the exact opposite.
5. ROLLING OUT THIS CHANGE
For anyone interested in enhancing their sales process with chatbots or looking to get started with a product like Drift’s, it’s important to find someone on your team who’s excited about the prospect of using it.
Don’t distract your most skilled sales rep by assigning a them a chatbot if they don’t believe in it. Choose someone willing to invest in it.
Find someone who wants to try out this new tool. Someone who isn’t concerned about being ‘interrupted’ by it. Someone who is eager to build out content with it.
At the risk of employing a cliche, millennial team members are more likely to embrace this business-casual-texting mode of conversation. Find that sales pilot partner, and let them use a chatbot to break the ice with new leads.
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