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82pc of US small businesses want chatbots for customer interactions

A survey of small businesses? mobile marketing strategies across six countries found that the United States leads in interest in chatbots and giving away free rewards to loyalty members. 

Chatbots are an important focus for big brands this year, but even single-location and small chains recognize an opportunity to enhance customer interactions. However, while 82 percent of single-location and small chain businesses in the United States would use a chatbot, just 52 percent in Australia would, according to a new report from Flok. 

?We were surprised at the interest breakdown regarding using AI to connect with customers around the world,? said Dave Heinzinger, vice president of marketing communications at Flok. ?Markets like the UK, Israel, U.S. and Canada seem to be very receptive to the tech, while Australia and Ireland perhaps aren't quite ready to rely on bots. 

?It's very important to define a goal if you're going to jump into the automated customer engagement world,? he said. ?What are you looking to achieve? Do you want to drive repeat business? In-app or in-store sales? Generate customer reviews and social buzz? 

?In each case, bots can help you succeed -- but you want to make sure you're facilitating interactions, or proactively creating interactions, that will work toward these goals. 

The report is based on a survey of 1,500 single-location and small chains of less than 5 stores who are on the Flok platform. 

The geography of marketing
In Canada, 80 percent of small businesses would use chatbots compared to 78 percent in Britain, 76 percent in Israel and 55 percent in Ireland. 

The report also highlights differences in conversational habits within the loyalty context. 

In Israel, businesses used 8 percent fewer words per customer engagement on average. In Canada, businesses apologized to customers 9 percent more often than their international counterparts.

Check-in rewards differed from country to country as well. 

In Ireland and Britain, businesses are offering alcohol-based rewards such as a free pint 22 percent more often than other countries. 

In the U.S., businesses have given away more ?free? rewards, versus discounts or coupons, per capita than any other country.

Overall, Australia is leading other countries for loyalty success, having driven 6 percent more repeat business per capita through Flok versus other countries. 

Frequency vs. spending
The goals of a loyalty initiative also differ across the globe. 

In Australia and Israel, business owners were most concerned with driving more spending per trip, while businesses in Britain and the U.S. were more interested in frequency of store visits. 

The majority of Canadian businesses said they wanted to consolidate and save money on marketing efforts through a digital loyalty program. 

?For brands, the takeaway is that consumer mobile behavior is different in key markets ? as are businesses goals in customer engagement,? Mr. Heinzinger said.