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If you had to answer 7,474 of the same questions in the space of a few months, would that be the best use of your time and skills?
That’s the question that NY NOW had on their minds in 2019. NY NOW is the largest wholesale trade show in America. Under one roof, retailers, buying groups, interior design firms, importers and exporters gain access to more than 2,300 leading brands in design.
The show is so popular that the organizers have traditionally had to dedicate a full-time employee to do nothing else but answer the same pre-event questions over and over again for months leading up to the show.
But in 2019, the organizers wanted to move that person into a more strategic role, making better use of this person’s time and abilities. This meant finding a more efficient way to answer that deluge of questions.
Freeman suggested Fluent, the company’s chatbot that enables both show attendees and exhibitors to get real-time answers to questions about events — without having to page through screens of content on the website or disturb any individuals outside working hours.
Fluent understands natural language. This means anyone with a question about the show could simply ask their question using their own natural language instead of having to type it into a search engine. In addition, the answers are immediate, keeping ASD’s attendees and exhibitors from having to wait until business hours for their answer.
To begin, the chatbot had to be programmed. Fortunately, Freeman aggregates anonymized chatbot data across multiple events. This provides Freeman clients with valuable insights into the questions commonly asked by attendees at other similar events. As a result, the team was able to quickly program NY NOW’s chatbot with the most popular questions, such as bathroom locations, parking availability and directions, and where the nearest coffee shop was. From there, they added in show-specific programming, such as exhibitor locations or registration information.
During the programming phase, the chatbot would ask, “Did I answer your question correctly?” after each answer. This allowed event organizers to monitor and improve the chatbot’s accuracy. This also enabled the team to ensure the chatbot was programmed to recognize the same question that might be asked in many different ways. This was vital: If the user experience was frustrating, the bot wouldn’t get used, and NY NOW would be back to square one.
Once the chatbot was programmed, Freeman also customized the chatbot interface on the NY NOW website to feature shortcut buttons that enables users to click through to specific topic categories, including exhibitors, registration, planning your day, what’s going on today, and more.
Once the chatbot was launched, did it succeed? There’s no question about it.
Freeman’s Fluent chatbot fielded 7,474 questions and gave a satisfactory answer 92% of the time, essentially answering 9 out of 10 questions correctly. NY NOW met their goal of eliminating the need to have somebody sitting at a PC all day answering the same questions over and over again. They were able to move that person from spending valuable time each day answering emails and taking phone calls to doing more strategic things at the event.
Today, NY NOW has a powerful resource to improve their efficiency and help them make the most of the staff they have, helping them grow to new heights.
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