Chatbots: the new face of online

How chatbots are destined to help business growth

Definition: An artificial intelligence program designed to simulate conversation with human users used in apps, live-chat, messenger and websites.

Automated processes have been around for years, such as the most famous one we have grown to hate – self-service checkouts. But we’ve only seen them predominantly in our supermarkets, retail stores and even fast food restaurants in the last 10 years. By 2021 the number of self-checkouts in stores across the world is due to reach 325,000 (BBC News).

The evolution of automation has now gone beyond the shops, with AI (our trusted friends Alexa, Siri, Google) now 80% of businesses want to implement chatbots by 2020 (Business Insider). Note: the difference of chatbots to intelligent assistants is that they only possess two mutual qualities found in AI; natural language processing and intelligent interpretation.

Chatbots as we know them

Bots can be identified in two key areas: Customer service bots e.g. EE mobile network and interaction bots e.g. Domino’s Pizza, pizza tracker. The difference in core values for each bot is the service it provides. Customer service bots act as a replacement to your standard customer service call or enquiry with a business, with its core focus being to replace the human load on customer enquiries.

Whereas interaction bots are providing additional interaction within your app, but still falling under the umbrella of customer experience – something that Domino’s pizza nailed a long time ago. On click of placing my order through the app, I soon find out who’s making my pizza, at what stage of the process it’s at and when it’s out for delivery – anyone else starting to feel really hungry or is it just me?

Anyway… moving swiftly on. Through the implementation of a chatbot in some form, businesses can benefit from a large shift in consumer behaviour through four key components, identified by Hubspot:

More frequently, consumers are now interacting with bots within their social media feed i.e. Facebook messenger. This allows you as a business to engage with consumers without the need for them to have to leave the app they’re on, and connecting through messenger gives the sense that it is a more casual conversation between yourself and a new or existing customer.

Why are messaging bots becoming so popular?

Hootsuite identify that customers are 3.5 times more likely to open and engage with a Facebook message than a marketing email. Why? It’s convenient and there is minimal legwork for a customer to respond to it, because Facebook pretty much has it sussed for you. With the use of CTA buttons relating to the content, your customer doesn’t even need to type a reply (perfect for the lazy shoppers out there).

The CTA button allows your prospect to move further down your marketing channel in a flash, just by choosing a few different selections in a message, result! This can also be a great way to identify leads which can then be fed back to your ‘human’ service team to follow up on – the bots are good but let’s not ask too much of them!

Busy lifestyles often mean people are in a rush all the time, and that doesn’t change when it comes to online shopping habits. Customers panic buy because they’ve forgot to order that present for their sister’s friend’s son and they’ve realised it now may not actually arrive in time. So how can you make sure your customers are put at ease about their delivery as quickly as they bought the item? Don’t worry, there’s a bot for that!

Customers want their questions answered immediately, from tracking their delivery, returns policy or item details and is a leading factor on the popularity of voice search. By implementing a bot to do the tasks that become time-consuming to a customer service agent, this frees up time for tasks that bots definitely can’t do yet. In turn, reduces your overheads and increases customer satisfaction.

Aside from reducing cost what can bots do for business growth?

Chatbots can be used as a form of lead generation as appose to a traditional web contact form. They are a way of nurturing leads and getting information out of a prospect without being too ‘pushy’. This in turn, increases the quality and quantity of leads as the chatbot can see exactly where a prospect came from, whether that be through an organic route, email campaign or ad.

You can then customise your conversation with each prospect you engage with, by customising your bot’s tone of voice and language style. Thus, ultimately creating a better brand experience for the customer, as there becomes someone ‘behind’ the questions and tailoring answers to suit your prospects needs, there is a higher chance of conversion.