Intercom Adds Video Capabilities to Its Chatbot Service

“Video messages are the best way to capture website visitors’ attention and create deeper, richer and stronger connections between businesses and customers. It’s personal, engaging and puts the talents of salespeople at the center of the persuasion process.” A statement from business messaging platform Intercom, which just added video to its customized chatbot service. The rationale: video content is a more humane way to connect with customers, drive engagement and boost revenue.

The new capability, Video Bots, is part of Intercom’s recently introduced Custom Bots service, all of which rides atop its Messenger platform. But the videos themselves aren’t bot-generated, and don’t depict or rely on an animated character; rather, the videos are pre-recorded by actual humans and delivered by Custom Bots, according to the vendor.

“Our mission is to make Internet business more personal,” Matt Hodges, vice president of commercial product strategy for Intercom, told me.

There are a couple obvious ways to tap the new video capability of Intercom’s business messaging platform. “You can welcome customers, just as you would with a real storefront,” Hodges explained. “Or you can start a proactive conversation based on targeting, with video.” Sales, marketing or customer support professionals simply record a video and upload it; they can add text subtitles, in case a targeted customer has their computer muted or is listening to something else, he added.

Once the Website visitor has played the video message, the visitor can then be automatically prompted to start a video call, sign up for a newsletter, or speak to a salesperson, all within the Messenger chat window.

Intercom’s system uses parameters like browsing patterns as triggers for sending video messages. A customer with an open chat window might get a clip with a sales or marketing person asking, “I noticed you’ve been browsing our pricing sheet. Would you like more information about ordering?” The video segments can be unique or they can be pre-recorded and used repeatedly, if the query or browsing pattern follows a common trajectory, for example.

Intercom’s Custom Bots service allows online business “to proactively engage the right visitors to their Websites, those they deem to be the best fit, either using enrichment data or behavioral data based on interactions on the site,” Hodges explained. By asking simple questions of the potential customers, answers can be captured and used to direct them down the right path, or in stored for use in future campaigns. “The business is in complete control to pursue the right leads,” he added.

An A/B test Intercom conducted by Intercom demonstrated that Video Bots can help move the needle in the right direction. “Customers are seeing three times the engagement [with video] compared to simple text messages they were sending before,” Hodges said. No customers of Video Bots were available to speak about the product or their experience.

There’s no denying the power and impact of video, according to Nick Barber, senior analyst, at Forrester. “We know video is a way users want to consume info, especially Millennials,” he said. Video is also a great way to simplify complex information; some healthcare companies have tapped video to make their explanation of benefits easier to understand, he added.

But the term “bot” suggests combination of automation, scale and personalization, and in that vein, Intercom’s Video Bots may confuse some potential customers.

“If you want 5,000 videos, then you have to record 5,000 videos,” Barber said — adding that that’s not very automated.

Video Bots are available at no charge to anyone subscribing to Intercom’s Custom Bots service. 


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