Chat bots and super at the dm Forum

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Everyone who attended the dm Forum on 30 October was treated to two show-stopper presentations.

Alana Burnside from Industry Super Australia kicked off the 64th dm Forum with an entertaining and informative reflection on how superannuation was revolutionised in Australia.

Many in the audience were still at school when the collective marketing campaign of ISA first took to the airwaves.

One of the biggest challenges in 1995 was to tackle the inertia and ‘don’t care’ attitude of people at the beginning of their super’ journey. The campaign’s clear sense of purpose was to educate the public on the impact fees and commissions would have on their super balance at the end of their journey.

While competitors tried to taint the collective as “cheap union funds,” the (distinctive) face of the campaign, Bernie Fraser, responded with “it’s the super of the future.”

Industry super was off and running. “Compare the pair” and “run only to profit members” were the catch-cries. The ads didn’t use supermodels, just normal, non-sparkly, relatable people.

By 2009, projected growth in super earnings – due to the member focus – spawned the “from little things, big things grow” addition to the marketing. And by 2013, retrospective earnings data hammered home the “compare the pair” difference and motivated many more people to shift their super to an industry fund.

The campaign took on other iterations to head off the banks in 2017 and importantly, industry super funds have come through the Royal Commission with a clean bill of health.

It was a fabulous presentation that reminded us how far we’ve come. The choice we have about where to place our super is something we now take for granted.

Natalie Khoo was the second presenter with an insightful chat about what marketers need to know about voice and chat bot technology. Google Assistant, Alexa, Siri – already they have a big place in our world. And their importance is only going to increase.

Natalie says that 45% of tasks will be doable by artificial intelligence in the next 50 years. But there is an important role for marketers to ensure the customer experience doesn’t fall by the way-side.

We’re all familiar with the IVR system bots that ask us to “press 1 for sales” – and Nat showed us a video of the transactional bots (such as Google Assistant) that are capable of making appointments for us. She says that increasingly, we’ll be seeing advisory service bots that can give advice and make suggestions.

Thankfully, Nat kept the technology pretty basic for us (me!) in explaining the “decision tree structure to design,” or the more data-intensive machine learning involved in the “natural language processing.”

Natalie summed up with her top five points for working with voice and chat bot technology.

  1. Respect your data and what it’s telling you about your customers.

  2. Bring your brand to life with persona development (form, gender, character, tone of voice and values).

  3. Understand the context:
    * is your customer on a tram or at work?
    * how long will the transaction take?
    * where is the customer in the journey?

  4. Recognise intent and the constraints of natural language processing – “do you have the time?” (the time for what?) versus “can you tell me the time?” (yes, the time is 7:40pm).

  5. Ethics – data privacy and manners matter. Introduce your bot, don’t patronise and consider getting a chief ethicist on board with your project.

 Thank you to our generous presenters for their time and entertaining anecdotes at the October 2018 dm Forum. The next event will be in February 2019.