#ASAE19: Chatbot FAQ for Associations

“Learn & Play with Purpose”—that was the motto for last week’s ASAE 2019 Annual Meeting in Columbus, OH. And that’s exactly what Stefan, Steve and I did! It was great to talk with association leadership from all over the country, getting a better understanding of the challenges and opportunities they currently face, including chatbots.

Judging from the engagement at my Using Bots to Modernize Communications and Engagement Express Talk, association professionals realize chatbots can be a powerful tool for connecting with their busy membership. (Maybe they read my last blog post!)

But there were a few questions that kept coming up throughout ASAE 2019. So I figured I’d answer them here for posterity:

Q: What Can a Chatbot Do?

A: Start a conversation.
B: Answer member questions.
C: Fulfill simple requests.
D: Connect real, live humans for meaningful engagement.
E: All of the Above

That’s right! You may have seen chatbots that integrate with your calendar through Zendesk or a similar platform. When someone reaches a point in their bot interaction where they decide it might be helpful to speak with an actual person, they can select from a list of times you’re available and set the appointment. Tech is at its best when it’s freeing us up to be more human.

Q: Can a Chatbot Integrate with My Association Management System?

A: Yes. It can integrate with all kinds of systems and software. We need to demystify chatbot technology. Bots are just another tool, another delivery platform. They are a web service that can work with anything.

Q: How Can I Leverage Chatbots to Boost Conversions?

A: Well, now… That’s a little more complicated. I have to answer a question with a question: What kind of conversion do you need? Do you want a member to download a newsletter? A bot can flag pertinent content for a user and even deliver it via whatever channel the person prefers. Do you want members to register for an event? Do you want prospects to become members?

Technical capacity-wise, a bot can do just about anything. But the central question for your chatbot implementation is: How far do I let my chatbot go before injecting a real human connection?

The answer to that question is going to be different for every organization and probably for every conversion goal. My core message: bots should be used to bridge the distance between humans. They can identify and bring together two people who need to be talking to each other. Their job is to cut through the clutter, the harried busy-ness of life in 2019, to enable personal connection. Bots are yet another tool in this Age of the Augmented Human.

So, sure, I could have built and programmed a chatbot to deliver this FAQ to you, but I wanted to sit down and share my thoughts on the subject personally. And I’d love to hear yours. Shoot me an email or message me on LinkedIn!

About Tim

Tim Kulp took an unconventional path to his tech career, so it makes sense that his tech career is anything but conventional. A homegrown Maryland boy, Tim has always been captivated by what makes us uniquely human: art, religion, storytelling. These are the things he studied in college before “a series of coincidences led to an accident,” his first IT job.

Now, whether working with startups, global brands, advertisers or healthcare providers, he pushes clients to find the technology that makes them more creative, more productive, more human. As our VP of Innovation & Strategy, he’s known throughout the Mid-Atlantic as the guy who makes tech people-centric.

When Tim isn’t working or spending time with his family, he’s still working. Honing his storytelling craft, mentoring up-and-coming professionals, or reading up on game design and theory. That’s how it is when your job is also your calling. In the era of artificial intelligence, Tim’s crusade to make us more human can’t be confined to business hours.