TechBytes with Andrew Caravella, VP, Strategy & Brand Engagement at Sprout Social

Andrew_Caravella - Image

Andrew Caravella
VP, Strategy & Brand Engagement, Sprout Social 

Speaking at Dmexco 2017 on Wednesday, Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, P&G, said it was high-time brands start investing in adtech for brand safety, transparency, and ad viewing. We spoke to Andrew Caravella, VP, Strategy & Brand Engagement at Sprout Social, to understand how the adoption of bots in social media can also result in the success of marketing automation platform.

MTS: Tell us about your role at Sprout Social and the team you work with?

Andrew Caravella: As VP of Strategy and Brand Engagement at Sprout, I work with our customers and partners to ensure we’re building strong relationships, growing our community and providing insight into trends affecting social business. Our team here works with customers of all sizes and strategies, from a local business focused on customer care to a global agency managing social across numerous brands and markets.

MTS: With growing focus on social selling and ABM, how do you see Bots as a justified martech investment for B2B sales?

Andrew Caravella: Turning to chatbots is well worth the investment in today’s e-commerce and social selling environment. Social media is consumers’ top choice for seeking customer service support and as a result, customer service teams are fielding an ever-increasing volume of requests. Chatbots alleviate that struggle by efficiently gathering all necessary details of each customer issue, then handing over a fully-formed case to a human customer service agent to offer support. It’s a perfect example of what happens when man and machine tag team in the right way.

MTS: To what extent do chatbots influence people-based marketing strategies?

Andrew Caravella: Social has become an important tool for people-based marketing, empowering brands to interact with consumers and provide more immediate, satisfying customer care—even before issues arise. Chatbots enhance brands’ ability to provide customer care via social by starting the conversation, setting clear expectations, collecting necessary information and ultimately determining the nature of an inquiry before transitioning a conversation to a human agent if needed. This ensures customers are getting the highest quality customer service in a fraction of the time of traditional customer service strategies.

MTS: What is the correlation between chatbot adoption and the success of marketing automation platforms?

Andrew Caravella: High consumer demands for exceptional experiences at every touchpoint have driven marketers to integrate innovative technologies into their marketing strategies. Marketing automation has allowed marketers to provide personalized experiences more efficiently and effectively to meet this consumer demand. Chatbots have gained traction for the same reason. They enable brands to provide better, faster customer care at a higher volume.

MTS: With bots exemplifying customer experience in social media, what are the biggest challenges in deploying them along the customer journey?

Andrew Caravella: Brands are often challenged to find and integrate a reliable bot technology that will maintain a high degree of customer service at any touchpoint along the customer journey. The horror stories aren’t hard to find – there are plenty of examples of bots gone bad. That’s why Sprout’s Bot Builder takes a rules-based approach to automating conversational workflow on Twitter Direct Message and Facebook Messenger. We took this approach because we believe it’s important for brands to maintain full control of the conversation. With rules-based bots, brands enjoy full transparency and full control of the customer experience every step of the way.

MTS: How deep is Sprout Social into AI/ML? How should marketers leverage these technologies to harness and optimize bot performance?

Andrew Caravella: When people are talking about bots, they often think of artificial intelligence or machine-learning. But that isn’t the case here—Sprout’s Bot Builder facilitates the creation of simple, rules-based bots to automate conversational workflow.However, the bot isn’t learning or generating those messages itself. Instead, brands and agents can automate messages while retaining complete control of the conversational flow. Later this year, we plan to release a version 2.0 that will support more complex interactions and enable the brand to configure multiple pathways for the bot conversation that go several layers deep, all still built with rules-based logic.

MTS: Thanks for chatting with us, Andrew.
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