Small business mobile marketing platform flok is seeking to bring chatbots to the mass of local business owners. Today, the company launched chatbot integration with its consumer app, enabling enrolled local businesses to answer common customer questions and provide information via an automated assistant.
The company refers to the new chatbot functionality as an “AI marketing assistant.” It can interact with consumers and answer a range of questions, which may be different depending on the individual business and business category. A salon bot would potentially have different things to say than a restaurant or sporting goods store bot.
After joining an individual business’ loyalty club, users can initiate a chat with that business. Above and below are screens from dummy accounts, reflecting the flow and user experience. In the above example, customers are prompted with questions that the bot can readily answer.
The company has tried to make set-up and implementation simple, given that this is directed toward local businesses and not developers. Bot chat content is substantially drawn from the provided data when a business owner joins flok. As mentioned, however, chatbot content varies somewhat by category and can be further enhanced or customized by individual businesses.
If a consumer asks a question that stumps the bot, the business owner or marketing representative will receive a ping on her smartphone and can respond manually in real time to the customer through the flok app.
In a survey released two weeks ago, flok found that messaging and use of SMS by local businesses for customer communication was well established behavior: “4 out of 5 Baby Boomers & Gen-X business owners are already messaging with customers about business-related topics.” And more than 90 percent of local business survey respondents said these tools were useful for customer service.
Facebook has been promoting bots and chat as a broad platform for commerce and customer communication. Right now flok bots are only available through the flok app. Later in the year, however, flok plans to enable small business bots for Facebook Messenger and other social messaging apps.