Rise of the Agents

How bots are changing CRM

It seems like you can’t throw a rock in Silicon Valley without hitting a bot these days, as they’ve become the latest must-have functionality. So what’s driving it? And how will it affect CRM going forward?


Calm technology, bots and the IoTThe application of bots for customer service functionality and interaction is obvious — and already in full swing. And with Microsoft’s acquisition of Wand Labs— as well as their Skype bots Murphy and Summarize— you can tell they understand the dangers of unleashing another Tay on the world.


It’s becoming clear that “conversation as a platform” will be a key component of brand interaction for the next three to five years. In some ways, it’s the perfect customer evolution to get users comfortable with ubiquitous computing: make digital interactions more aligned with traditional human interaction.


AI and bots will allow brands to have real-time interaction, conversation and transaction with customers—resulting in enhanced, smarter and more engaged CRM programs. The logical next step? For users to employ their own bots as digital agents to scour the web. Their tasks? Not only to keep the user informed, but also to search out items that may be of interest — and to execute tasks on behalf of the user (travel, banking, scheduling, etc.).


So while conversation as a platform may define the next few years, the conversations will likely start as humans talking with bots — but will end up as bots talking to bots, with both speaking for brands and customers.


I should point out I’m not envisioning a creepy Skynet future. Empowering digital agents to operate in the digital world on your behalf will help ease the distraction, noise and interruption of overwhelming technology — and as the IoT spreads, the manic nature of customers’ relationships to tech will have to shift to ensure things don’t get toxic.


To be clear, while the opportunities digital agents and smart bots present brands for automated, real-time CRM engagement are outstanding, it’s going to add new parameters and considerations to your marketing and UX/UI/ID.


The net-net? It won’t be enough to have a bot speaking to customers on behalf of your brand. That’s Cost-of-Entry. Your bot will also have to be likeable, engaging, approachable, empowering and helpful. Luckily, these words already define your CRM marketing program, right? :)


Want to learn more? This summer at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, I’ll be presenting a keynote session on How Calm Design Will Save the Internet of Things along with Amber Case (cyborg anthropologist, author and TED Talk veteran). If you plan on attending, please join us. If not, keep watching HackerAgency as we reveal how marketing must evolve as the IoT gains traction. Together, we can Save the IoT.