flok Launches Chatbots to Bolster Customer Engagement for Local Businesses
Launched just a couple months ago, customer engagement program flok has announced that its chatbot technology is now being leveraged by thousands of local businesses.
flok’s main products center around loyalty and rewards. In the past, the company has leveraged beacon technology to help small businesses reach out to customers who have previously visited their stores. For example, a restaurant owner using flok might check in with her customers a couple of hours after they have left the restaurant to evaluate their experience and possibly encourage them to return.
The company’s recent work with chatbots is the next step in its customer engagement strategy, according to Dave Heinzinger, flok’s vice president of marketing communications. With chatbot technology, the same messages that businesses have scheduled and sent out to customers can now evolve into more complex conversations. These conversations yield better data for the business owner and more detailed information as well as a more engaging customer service experience for the consumer.
Local businesses in particular may be interested in flok because they typically lack the financial resources to experiment with their own digital infrastructure, Heinzinger said. While multi-location businesses and brands can rely on innovation budgets to get their own chatbots going, small businesses need tried-and-tested technology that they can implement efficiently.
With flok, local business owners can set up smarter customer engagement tools in under 10 minutes.
Still, there is something in flok for bigger organizations and brands as well, and the company is currently working with the likes of Salvation Army and Subway. Brands might look to flok for a more local feel for customer engagement strategy, Heinzinger said.
“If you ask a big business with multiple locations, they all tell you the same thing — they want to be more local. Local businesses tend to be experts in customer experience,” he said.
Chatbots help brands work toward this local customer-experience feel by enabling them to engage with large sets of customers without deploying the infeasible manpower it would require to reach out to every customer personally. With chatbots, brands can start conversations with their consumers about their store experiences, even if those conversations do not quite rival the intimacy of a local restaurant owner chatting with all of his patrons.
Beacons are an older technology essential to what flok does, as they are the location-based infrastructure that allows the company to monitor its business partners’ customers. The flok chatbot strategy is essentially a marriage between the “2014 buzzword of beacons and the 2016 buzzword of chatbots,” Heinzinger said.
Location technology also plays a major role in flok’s business-facing app. With the business-facing app, business owners can look at information about their customers and manually offer them rewards. Location technology also powers the app’s foot traffic map, a feature on which business owners can see if any of their customers are nearby and then send them offers.
In bolstering its technology, flok has also attempted to keep its offerings user-friendly, Heinzinger said. For this reason, flok offers a bot for different verticals, such as a “reservation” bot for restaurants and an “appointment” bot for salons, two of the company’s most active partner industries. In addition, if consumers ask a chatbot questions the chatbot cannot answer, the question is forwarded to a business owner, who can respond to the customer directly.
Joseph Zappa is Street Fight’s news editor.