Leveraging artificial intelligence to have a real conversation with your customers
Kamen Kamenov’s take on the latest Jordan brand chatbot and how such experiences can be a great way for brands to enhance their digital strategy.
It is becoming less and less easy to spot when we are talking to a robot, thanks to brand ingenuity and one of the usual tech giant suspects …
Facebook introduced Messenger Business in 2015 and Messenger Platform in 2016—the former designed to replace emails and chat systems that businesses use for customer support, whilst the latter was hyped by Facebook as the best way to connect with 900m+ people. However, the success of voice assistants like Alexa and Google Home is challenging this claim and also Messenger bots have been a slow channel for brands to reach their customers. Moreover, Facebook seemed to be biding its time to promote them to customers. For a while, the majority of users were simply unaware these chatbots existed, despite 1 in 3 Americans being willing to trust and use such channels for every day purchases.
I was oblivious to them myself until the Jordan brand "messaged me" and we had a "conversation", which left a strong impression on me, because of how well it worked … at getting me to … join the club.
Welcome to The Breakfast Club
No, neither the 1980s movie nor the London diner with consistently long queues.
I am talking about Michael Jordan's legendary extracurricular training routine designed to help him overcome the "bad boys" Pistons team, which knocked his Bulls out of the playoffs 3 years running in the late '80s. The program, which entailed pre-practice and one-on-one workouts focused on strength training and weights, became known as the "Breakfast Club," since it would often start before dawn. It became the foundation of Jordan's unprecedented success on the basketball court, earning him six championship rings and six Finals MVP trophies with a perfect 6:0 Finals record.
Last year, the Jordan brand unlocked the Breakfast Club training program by making it available to athletes and fans around the world via Facebook Messenger. The experience is built around a 30-day schedule designed by top current and former pro-athletes. After subscribing to the program digitally, athletes get the opportunity to begin training immediately using the drills and techniques introduced by a collection of Jordan Brand athletes.
Here's how what part the conversation looks like:
The new Jordan Messenger Chatbot Experience
When I first heard about the Breakfast Club via the chatbot, I did not make much of the bot itself. However, a couple of days ago I saw Jordan using the bot once again, this time to showcase their latest and greatest from the brand.
This time I paid attention to the second message, explored the new content and found the whole experience to be pretty awesome, so ... hey, here we go.
In short, the bot offers a very fluid and seamless way to experience the Jordan brand. Here’s a snapshot of my interaction with it:
What’s it like?
Unobtrusive. Maybe it’s just me who doesn't mind getting a message through quite a personal channel, as I’m already a huge fan of Jordan, but it didn’t feel like the brand was trying too hard. The first time I received a message (about the Breakfast Club), I whizzed right by it. I didn’t feel like I was being spammed nor annoyed.
At the same time, accessing the content was the easiest thing, and Messenger is a very wide reaching channel—with 68% of smartphone users in the US having the app on their phone (making it the third most popular app). The experience is available on both mobile and web.
Smooth. I could find out the latest from Jordan’s lifestyle, sport and culture sections in a very conversational way. When AI gets it right and works, the satisfaction is high and the experience feels more human. This was the case here, as the brand did not allow for any ways in which I could 'surprise' the chatbot and ask for something it's not able to give me.
Simple. I did not have to install any other app to experience it. Well, this is not exactly 100% true, but almost. The only time I was taken out of Messenger was to explore the “OG signatures” (the retro models in non-sneakerhead speak), which required moving over to the SNEAKRS app (as a sneakerhead, I had it already). The rest was contained within Messenger and I found the UI intuitive and aesthetically pleasing by being very, very simple.
Out of the box, yet personal. The content I was getting was not personalised for me, yet for each choice I made the little "typing ..." bubble would appear—one we have all stared at with anticipation at least once, waiting for a friend to send their message. I found myself staring at it the same way and it made me feel like I was having a conversation. Made it that much more human.
What can brands learn from Jordan’s Chatbot?
When looking back at the story behind the design of the Jordan III—one of the greatest signature Air Jordan shoes of all time, Nike's legendary designer Tinker Hatfield said that Michael Jordan wanted a ''soft, comfortable, out-of-the-box experience". This was back in 1988. Perhaps MJ asked the same for his Jordan brand's digital experience nearly 30 years later.
For further questions, get in touch with Kamen via firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are my sources for this post, in case you’d like to do some further reading: