The latest business mantra has got to be “Start using a chatbot or get left behind”. Don’t know what a chatbot is? Join the queue. Bot marketing is everywhere – in your homes (Google Home, Amazon Alexa?), on your phones (Google Assistant, Siri?), and on at least 80% of business websites these days.
In this article, we will be looking at what chatbots are, some examples, how effective they are, how they work, how they are used for sales and marketing, and what the future holds for them.
What are chatbots?
Any Artificial Intelligence (AI) software that can simulate chats (and conversations) between humans and computers is called a ‘chatbot’.
This simulation usually has to be in natural language and through the telephone, mobile applications, websites, or messaging applications.
If you are a frequent internet user, chances are that you’ve seen chatbots pop up on eCommerce websites (usually at the lower right-hand corner). The majority of chatbots are used for customer support. Customers do not like going through online menus to get answers, and calling customer support can be time-wasting.
Chatbots provide answers to basic questions and provide solutions to basic problems that would otherwise consume employee time. In fact, the most advanced chatbots process full sentences and engage in real conversations. They only direct difficult and tough problems with customer support when they get overwhelmed.
What are chatbots used for?
Businesses use chatbots for different uses. Some of them include:
– Customer support
– Searching for products
– Checking for inventories
– Booking tickets
– Providing estimates and quotes
– Process returns
– Searching for flights
– Generating leads
– Building email lists
– Sharing information on current deals and prices
– Providing answers to customer questions
– Recommending items
– Tracking shipping
– Finding nearby restaurants or other businesses
– Making product suggestions
– Handling customer orders
– Upselling and cross-selling
– Handling promotions
– Following up on uncompleted carts
– Assigning customer requests of questions to support agents
– Collecting customer feedback
Why are chatbots important?
Business’ customer experiences are enhanced by chatbot applications thanks to the fact they streamline interactions between people and services. Chatbots also provide businesses with opportunities to enhance their operational efficiency and customers’ engagement process by reducing the cost of customer service.
Chatbots stop the logjam of customer requests that increase the cost of support calls. Chatbots will also boost the sales revenue of a business because it provides round-the-clock access, helps business; scale up faster, and tackles the cart abandonment conundrum.
They also help:
– Increase open rates
– save money and time
– Give a business personality
– Provide 24/7 help for customers
– Increase sales
Any chatbot solution that performs all of the above-mentioned tasks seamlessly and effectively can be considered successful. Regardless of the importance of chatbots, human support is also necessary. To configure, train, and optimize a chatbot, human intervention will be needed. Even though chatbots cannot do everything, they can relieve the pressure of a business’ agent expenses.
How to make use of a chatbot
Implementing a chatbot to your business operations is easy. A chatbot platform is designed to set up everything for you unless you want to write the bot yourself. It’s as simple as stating what the chatbot is expected to do, selecting where to use it (text, app, or website), and customizing what it says in varying situations.
Follow these steps below to build a chatbot:
– Incorporate a chat plugin like Tidio.
– Design custom chatbot options and answers to the most common questions relating to what you do.
– Monitor the bot’s interactions with customers, and modify how the bot should react based on your findings.
How do chatbots work?
A chatbot is usually tasked to perform two different and highly important assignments. They are:
– User request analysis
– Returning the response
User request analysis:
This is the first and probably most important task performed by every chatbot. This task processes the request of a user for the purpose of figuring out the user intent, as well as extracting relevant entities.
This ability to extract data and relevant entities found in a user’s request, while identifying the intent of a user provides businesses with the information they need to improve operations and scale up.
Returning the response:
A chatbot must provide the necessary response for a request the moment a user’s intentions have been received. The answer would vary, and could be any of the following:
– A disambiguating question that enables the chatbot to properly understand the request of the user.
– The after result of an action performed by the chatbot after it has interacted with one or more backend applications.
– A predefined or generic text.
– Contextualized information stored in enterprise systems gotten as a result of data provided by the user
– A text got from a knowledge base that holds different answers.
Examples of chatbot implementations
You have to understand that chatbots are about giving your customers unique experiences. When choosing a chatbot to use, it is imperative that you know your audience and the best way to connect with them.
This helps you focus on the best chatbot to use and the style of messaging to implement. Below are some of the best examples of how brands utilize chatbots:
- Snap Travel chatbot:
This bot is for people trying to find the best B & B or hotels near them. All customers need to do is provide criteria, while the bot does the hard work. The criteria would usually include things like location, cost, reviews, etc.
- Buoy Health chatbot:
Need to communicate with a doctor from the comfort of your home? This bot does that. Thanks to a database of numerous clinical records, this bot provides answers to healthcare questions posed by users.
- Levi’s chatbot:
This chatbot behaves like an over-the-counter salesman for jean-selling company, Levi. It asks customers and site users questions like the type of jeans they want, processes purchases, and allows customers speak to a live agent if need be.
- Domino’s chatbot:
Pepperoni lovers get in here! The Domino chatbot allows users to repeat their favorite order (thanks to its database) or build their perfect pizza order (thanks to specific questions like “what flavor would you like” or “what size are you having today”).
- Sephora chatbot:
This particular chatbot is multi-choice based. It allows the company’s customers to share images when they want color-matched products, book appointments, and find store locations.
How can chatbots be used for marketing and sales?
- Promptly engage customers:
The regular customer support team is always very busy, and since customers always need to ask questions, backlogs are bound to happen. Customers are known to equate their value to a business to the effectiveness of its customer service. They view poor customer service as an insult to their personalities.
Chatbots solve this problem because they have been automated to always respond (and fast). The moment a customer asks about something, the bots provide immediate answers, engaging customers until human knowledge is needed.
- Improve sales funnel:
When a sales funnel works, sales increase. With the help of chatbots, information on current and prospective customers are tracked and collected. This task can be difficult to do manually, but since bots process data faster, it becomes easier.
Chatbots can be used to guide a prospect through the four stages of a sales funnel –interacting with prospects, eliminating unqualified leads, and providing information on customer needs.
- Leverage feedback:
Feedbacks are important for marketing, whether they are positive or negative. They help every business improve their operations by correcting the wrong things and enhancing the right ones.
Chatbots can be used to collect feedback from customers through options like feedback boxes, polls, emails, or online surveys.
- Reach a larger market:
The more people know about a business’s products or services, the more successful the business is likely to be. Incorporated into social media platforms, chatbots help a business reach more people.
Analytics provided by chatbots also help businesses streamline their marketing efforts to their target audience. For instance, if a marketing campaign targeting a specific demographic of Facebook users is seen by only that group of people, the engagement rate will be high.
- Personalize customer experiences:
Thanks to chatbots, customers feel understood and appreciated. This is because they are identified by their personal interactions and addressed based on this info.
Instead of creating generalized marketing campaigns from huge data, businesses can streamline personal data, and communicate with them on a more intimate level.
Wrapping Up: What does the future hold for chatbots?
A recent survey done by Oracle shows that by the time 2020 is ended, at least 80% of businesses will be using chatbots. Chatbots have come to stay. Whether you believe they are real AI technologies or not, one thing is clear – they help businesses and organizations close the gap between human interactions and offering non-stop engagement.