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How do you answer 7,000 questions without answering 7,000 questions?
That’s the challenge that ASD faced. Their signature show, ASD Market Week (previously ASD AMD), is the most comprehensive trade show for consumer merchandise in the U.S. As the leading B2B trade show in Las Vegas, ASD brings the world’s widest variety of retail merchandise together in one efficient shopping experience.
The scale is massive: 45,000 buyers from over 90 countries visiting one venue over the space of four days. Add in the 2,700 vendors and exhibitors, and it’s a full house.
The challenge, however, is that every day for two months before the show, tens of thousands of these attendees and exhibitors, from every time zone in the world, visited www.asdonline.com and realized they had a question.
So, they picked up the phone.
Or they fired off an email.
And they asked one of the thousands of common questions that the show organizers had been answering before every show for years. Answering those same questions repeatedly by phone and email was cumbersome and expensive.
In 2019, the show organizers decided to do something different. They approached Freeman and asked for a solution to this flood of repetitive questioning.
Freeman suggested Fluent, the company’s chatbot solution 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 way of speaking 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.
ASD saw Fluent as an opportunity to improve engagement and connect with their audience while saving them an enormous amount of personnel time.
ASD branded their website’s chatbot Savvy Sara to make it relatable to their audience. To add a fun touch, Sara “wore” seasonal outfits that reflected the time of year when website visitors were asking their questions.
While Savvy Sara did a marvelous job of answering an onslaught of questions, she also provided a valuable secondary function: She gathered data on the kinds of questions being asked. This allowed Freeman to customize the chatbot interface with shortcut buttons that represented the main categories of questions people were asking. Someone clicking on “Vendors”, for example, would be presented with the most popular sub-categories, including “Show Vendor Menu,” “Vendor Directory” and “Inquire about Exhibiting.”
This customized, multi-level triage improved the experience for attendees and exhibitors, getting them the answers they needed much more quickly.
Wisely, ASD marketed Savvy Sara heavily leading up to the show. They introduced her to attendees and exhibitors through a series of four emails, promoted her on social media, and featured her in the directory for the event. To top it off, ASD placed life-size cutouts of Savvy Sara throughout the show floor, beckoning attendees to ask her questions.
Savvy Sara was also present on-site throughout the show via text message, allowing attendees and exhibitors to get immediate answers using just a smartphone and a dedicated text number.
If they typed “vendor,” they could search by vendor. If they typed “session” or “speaker,” they could search for sessions or speakers. They could even receive a corny dad joke by texting “joke.”
The question is: How did Savvy Sara go over with ASD’s site visitors and show attendees?
She was a massive hit. Sara was able to answer about 90% of the questions posed to her, fielding about 6,000 questions prior to the show and an additional 1,000 during the show. ASD was able to keep their audience engaged while freeing up an enormous amount of staff time, enabling a stronger focus on strategic initiatives. Thanks to Sara and Freeman, ASD has much more time and resources available to chat about their show’s success.
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