How Can Chatbots Help Your Business?
In most science fiction movies or stories, there is often a computer that talks to the human characters. They manage the tasks the human can’t (or won’t) do for themselves: data crunching, sourcing information, planning out the details. In these settings, the computer is an essential part of the life the characters lead.
Over the past few years, it seems that science fiction has moved closer to reality.
Today, many consumers are interacting with virtual assistants and conversational agents (often called ‘chatbots’ or ‘bots’) daily. These ‘bots’ are actually small pieces of software that use automation and artificial intelligence to simulate human conversation.
Slowly but surely, messenger bots are shifting the way we use technology and how businesses sell to their customers.
The Rise of The Chatbot
Today, bots and virtual assistants are part of everyday life. It is estimated that 55% of people use voice assistant technology on a daily or weekly basis.
You have probably experienced them if you’ve called a big company and been asked to answer a few questions to direct your call.
The increased interest in chatbots over recent years stems from their ability to take on some of the time-consuming business tasks.
For companies that need to respond to customers quickly, chatbots can provide them with answers to frequently asked questions. Chatbots can answer questions and interact 24/7, which takes away the need to have a customer service team working around the clock.
Best of all, chatbots use a familiar, conversational interface. It feels like speaking with another person one-to-one, and the responses they give can be surprisingly human.
Facebook Adds Bots To Messenger
In 2016, Facebook announced that bots were being integrated into the Facebook Messenger platform of 1.3 Billion users. Today the platform hosts over 300,000 bots that interact with customers every day.
Recent Facebook Messenger data shows that:
- 61% of people in the UK messaged a business in the three months between March and June 2018.
- 53% of people are more likely to interact with a company they can message directly.
- More than 50% of people consider business messaging the modern way to communicate.
On the Facebook Messenger platform, bots can understand questions, provide automated responses, and perform simple tasks. And they get smarter with each interaction.
At the heart of chatbot technology is natural language processing (often called NLP). This is the same technology that forms the basis of the voice recognition systems used by virtual assistants such as Alexa, Google, Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana.
Natural Language Processing allows bots to analyze and understand conversational language, and provide a near human-like experience.
How Do Chatbots Change Marketing?
In the beginning stages of a purchase decision, a lot of consumers are simply information gathering. They don’t want to speak to a real person or visit a store just yet.
This phase is where messenger chatbots can offer a considerable advantage, especially for companies in the ecommerce space.
Chatbots can assist with some of the basics of product knowledge and help to customize the experience for each consumer.
Customers can respond by typing or pressing a CTA button which naturally moves them further down your marketing funnel. This is all done without the need for a staff member to be involved and can be done at any time of the day or night.
On top of this, getting people to pay attention to your marketing is easier in the message format.
Headliner Labs found that people are 3.5 times more likely to open a Facebook Message than a marketing email. Facebook Messenger offers sponsored ads, which companies can display to anyone who has previously visited a page or website.
How Chatbots Can Help Your Business
Let’s face it: customers today hate waiting on hold and expect 24/7 availability. This can be tough for a small business to handle. Fortunately, chatbots can be a great way to solve this challenge.
Any business that spends a lot of time helping people track deliveries, explaining return policies or booking appointments can benefit from chatbot automation. Often a customer is contacting a business with the same questions as other customers. If you consider which steps can be automated by bots, it can save time, money, and unhappy customers.
Companies like Marriott Reards, Whole Foods, Bud Light, and Unicef are all incorporating chatbot functionality into their marketing and customer service experiences.
Consider how you might be able to streamline your customer s purchase experience with a simple software program that can be added to Facebook Messenger. There are third-party developers such as Chatfuel, Mobile Monkey, and Manychat that offer free or affordable solutions for most small to medium-sized companies to capitalize on this trend.
In the end, it comes to convenience — both for you and your customers. Using the best of machine learning and AI to your advantage, and helping your customers feel cared for, you are guaranteed to increase your sales and brand trust.