The Chatter About Chatbots: Why Chatbots Are The Next Big Thing in Business

Sarah Hodgson

Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri have made modern consumers almost reliant on automated services. From ordering Uber pick-ups and pizzas to requesting weather forecasts from the comforts of their couches, consumers are accustomed to easy, virtual communication. In fact, Gartner has actually predicted that by 2020, 85% of consumer interactions will be dealt with through AI. With this in mind, small businesses will not only have to prepare for the imminent takeover of AI, but they’ll also have to adapt. One way that businesses have begun to adapt and leverage AI in their marketing strategies is via chatbots.

A chatbot is an automated chat interface designed to simulate real-life conversations with online users. Chatbots mimic customer service representatives and satisfy basic user requests – like price quotes and product details/recommendations – in real time. Though there are different variations of chatbots, the website chatbot is one of the more common, useful types for businesses of all sizes and industries.

Curious about creating a chatbot for your business? Here are a few ways chatbot technology can help you capture hot leads, streamline your customer service and strengthen your brand.

chatbots for businessChatbots Are Accessible

One the main appeals of chatbots for businesses and visitors alike is its accessibility. Incorporating a chatbot or live chat feature means employing a 24/7, 365 days-a-year customer service representative. When consumers have burning questions about your company, they don’t have to wait for normal business hours to get answers. They simply open their browsers, enter your website, type out their inquiries and get answers in mere seconds.

They Reduce Bounce Rates

According to the Nielsen Norman Group, your website has under a minute to captivate visitors before they bounce to another website. Why not enlist a chatbot to do the work for you? When a visitor enters your site, a chatbot can engage with them immediately with a question like “What can I help you with today?” This interaction entices the user to stick around on your website, ask  questions and visit other pages to learn a bit more about your company.  

Chatbots Are Branding Tools

By giving your chatbot a name, a face and a voice, you’re giving your brand depth and personality. Many companies design their chatbots with mascots and real employees in mind to give their automated bot an element of authenticity. The more authentic your bot, the more likely users are to engage. For example, Vhi, a healthcare provider in Ireland, developed a ‘running chatbot’ named Vee who offers advice and regular motivational messages to encourage healthy fitness routines. Vee’s personality is inviting, humorous and positive. For example, if Vee doesn’t understand what you’re asking, it will respond with, “Whoa, you’ve lost me! Could you re-phrase that please? Go easy on me. ✌ ?” As a healthcare provider, Vhi’s services tend to be on the dryer side. But Vee’s entertaining, conversational tone gives the company an opportunity to be fun and engaging.

vee chatbotSource

They Recommend Products

Adding a chatbot to your website is like adding a salesperson (or several) to your team. The users visiting your website are looking for your services, or services like yours. A well designed bot can nudge them in the right direction by presenting product recommendations relating to their queries. Say you’re a landscaper and a customer asks your chatbot about planting services. Your bot can provide a detailed answer about these services, then go a step further by promoting seasonal offerings and asking the user questions regarding their landscaping needs and contact information.

Each user interaction is an opportunity for your chatbot to sell. Take Sephora’s Facebook Messenger chatbot for instance. After greeting you, the chatbot lets you “pick a look to try on,” and displays a list of makeup styles. After you choose a style, the Sephora bot sends you product information to help you achieve the look you’re after. So, if a user decides she wants the “Natural” style, Sephora will present muted highlighting powders and taupe eyeliner sticks that are available for purchase. Simply put, chatbots make it easier for potential customers to find what they’re looking for which increases your likelihood of closing a sale.

Chatbots Optimize Operations

While humans are limited to juggling 2-3 conversations at a time, chatbots can handle dozens (if not more) simultaneously. By incorporating a website chatbot into your business plan, you’re able to surpass the limitations of a human task force and expand your reach by way of unlimited consumer interactions.

chatbot gifThey Provide Useful Metrics

With every consumer interaction, chatbots store an abundance of invaluable insights that allow you to see where your users are going on your website, what kinds of questions they’re asking and when they tend to lose interest and drop off.

Bot insights are accessible through analytics tools like Dashbot and BotMetrics. These applications allow you to track user engagement and gain a deeper, analytical understanding of the conversations that your bot and your users are having. Some tools can even help you optimize your bot messages for every user based on their individual preferences. For example, Manner can determine which users prefer direct, formal messages and which users prefer conversational messages. These insights allow you to continue developing your chatbot after its conception to maximize its helpfulness and lead-generating capabilities.

Chatbots Improve User Experience

The modern user is an expectant user: 54% of consumers and 80% of business buyers expect instantaneous responses from companies. Users want instant, personalized, direct lines from problem to solution. Chatbots satiate this modern need for speed by eliminating the back-and-forth emails between customers and customer service representatives. Instead, they provide a continuous thread of quick, personalized Q&A. They can even be programmed to address users directly using their real names, “Hi, Jane Smith! How can I help you today?” Customers will feel as though they’re talking to an actual person in real-time and will walk away with a lasting impression of your brand.

Want the Best of Both Worlds?

You might find that your services and customer inquiries are a little too complex for an automated chatbot to handle. An alternative to a chatbot is a live chat feature. Live chats begin with automated messages and, once engaged, are passed along to an actual person. Our live chat application says, “Hi! How can I help you?” or a more specific statement depending on a particular user’s landing page location. Then, that user types a response and an employee (featured in the photo) takes the reins. Where chatbots can understand only what they’ve been programmed to understand, live chat applications can pick up on the nuances of wordy customer inquiries and produce quality interactions.

live chatbotTime to Create Your Chatbot!

A well-designed chatbot can make your website a more welcome, personalized and efficient space for visitors. Our talented team will work with you to craft a bot that meets your goals, reaches your target audience and speaks volumes to your company’s personality and efficiency. Contact us (or chat with Corinna) for a consultation!

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