Will Chatbots Become Fan's Best Friend?

June 9, 2016 AudienceView Staff

If you want to study the growing pains that come with living in the future, look no further than the science and tech community’s conversations about Artificial Intelligence. The discussions are primarily focused on the AI of pre-programmed chatbots, which are present in dozens of formats including Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now feature, and Facebook’s continued attempts at their Messenger app. But while some companies struggle to create a working and unmalicious AI, others are reaping the rewards that come from adapting to this new technology early.  

The Sacramento Kings are an organization that’s on the forefront of using new technology, so it should come as no surprise that they’ve hopped onto the chatbot bandwagon. Working with a local startup, the Kings are creating a bot that will interact with fans, giving them real-time digital content about the team, including statistics and box scores. Sacramento hopes to time the full functionality of the chatbot with the opening of its new stadium to provide event schedules and important information. 

How would your athletics department benefit from sending regular updates to your fans alerting them to deals and developments? By creating a channel through which interested people can receive up-to-the-minute updates, you can create impromptu interactions that wouldn’t have existed before. Since it’s an opt-in program you don’t risk alienating anyone, and by eliminating most of the barriers that come with planning game night, you can engage fans in an non-intrusive way.

AI is another form of technology that is going to have a large impact on athletic organizations, and using it to sell inventory is just one way of using it. What if fans can find out concession prices, or to find out where the closest bathroom is? There are plenty of opportunities present with AI and chatbots, and the first step is to accept that they’re the future of customer service.

ReplyYes, which sells a text-to-buy platform for vinyl records and graphic novels, has sold over $1 million worth of records in eight months using nothing but text messages and a chatbot. Most of the work is done with an algorithm, though there is a human component. People sign up to receive text messages and receive a record recommendation every day, to which they can reply “yes," "like" or "dislike." If they select “yes,” then that customer is on their way to buying the album in a few interactions.

If the subscriber asks a "human question," a customer service representative steps in and provides a contextual response to further engage the patron. If the consumer seems ready to buy something but hasn't pulled the trigger online, the chatbot sends that person a message to call a rep to complete the order. "Sixty-eight percent of our [subscribers] have purchased," said David Cotter, CEO of ReplyYes. "Twenty-eight percent have purchased six or more albums in their first 180 days [on the mobile platform]."

What will your athletics department use chatbots for? Do you see a future where customer service is replaced by artificial intelligence? 

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