Artificial intelligence and messengers: what voice for luxury brands?

While Apple’s Siri and Google’s OK Google conversational interfaces are getting closer to human intelligence everyday, other companies are joining the artificial intelligence race. Whether it is with Amazon’s Alexa assistant, or Facebook’s virtual assistant M, brands now have more opportunities than ever to reach consumers, and to offer a personalized and on-point experience.

As of now, Facebook’s M is not available to all users nor to brands, but it will very likely change the way brands do customer service online. Brands can already use Facebook Messenger to improve their customer service and dialogue with customers as they would chat with friends, while answering requests and providing recommendations, etc. The trick is to adopt the codes of Messenger and become as close as possible to a friend. And this means carefully choosing a brand voice.

When using services such as Messenger, consumers are expecting to be treated as greatly as they normally would be by a great customer service rep. This includes: omnichannel consumer knowledge, quick answers, personal recommendations, and friendliness!

everlane

Now, if you’ve been to a luxury store before, you know friendliness and proximity aren’t always sales reps’ main qualities. Efforts are usually put into great service, professionalism, personalized recommendations, and status. Let’s put it that way: sales reps are not acting as friends.

If we consider digital marketing, it’s more or less the same. Brands use display ads, websites, apps and social media to share an exclusive, high-level and inspiring brand image.

But would you want to have a Messenger discussion with a luxury sales rep? Would you send gifs to someone only sharing product updates? I wouldn’t.

The challenge for luxury brands is to find their voice for conversational interfaces such as M. This voice may be different from the one they have in-store or online, but it should embrace the values that define the brand. You can be the best in our area, have the most elegant style, be rather exclusive, and yet be super friendly and thoughtful with your customers. It all goes back to the usual trade-off between the luxury’s exclusivity, and digital proximity and personalization.

Considering the fierce competition between brands to be the one consumers want to engage with, the ones mastering the voice their consumers want to hear will gain legitimacy and their consumers will be more likely to ask for advice on their latest products or to use their highest level of services, because they’ll feel like the brand understands them like a friend. It’s not about pushing products, or even engaging consumers anymore; it’s about exchanging with individuals in the most authentic way possible.

It may be easier for startups like Jam in France, or trendy brands like Everlane, to find their voice and successfully engage with customers via texts and Messenger, but it will be worth the effort for luxury brands to attract new customers and develop new services to achieve the most personalized and unique digital brand experience yet.