Chatbots have been on the rise since a couple of years and have already faced a wide adoption. They are bringing a new way for businesses to communicate with the world and most importantly with their customers by the help of exploding popularity of messaging apps*, the accelerated development of all kinds of sensors and wearables and of course with the rise of emerging technologies and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
So What is a Chatbot and Why is it Becoming a Big Deal?
A chatbot is a program, powered by rules and AI, which simulates a real interaction with users via a chat interface. In other words, a chatbot is a service that can have a conversation with you just like a real person.
Chatbots are based on Machine Learning to gather conversational cadences that allow them to copy human conversations and react to written or spoken requests to deliver a service. They comprehend language, not just commands, since they use AI. Therefore, the more conversation chatbots have with users, the more intelligent they become.
Although we started to experience chatbots recently, their technology starts in 1950s. You can take a look at our infographic here to learn more about the History of Chatbots.
Let’s take a look at the top 7 benefits of chatbots, and have a better understanding of how they can contribute to your business.
1. Keeping Up with the Trends: Being Present on Messaging Platforms
Business Insider showed us (on the chart above) that messaging applications had reached more users than social media networks in the first quarter of 2015. Since customers’ preferences verge to interact with brands via chat -as it’s easier and faster to use- businesses have now the opportunity to reach more customers via Chatbots while staying trendy for their customers.
Furthermore, 65% of smartphone users don’t download any new apps in a month. Since users have their core apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp etc., they don’t look for new ones. Therefore, integrating your own chatbot into one of the popular platforms that your customers use daily, can be better than building a new app by saving money and time.
2. Improved Customer Service
a. Extensive Customer Assistance
A survey shows that 83% of online shoppers need support during shopping. So, your customers may require help trying to understand which products fit their needs/budgets any time of the day. Moreover, shoppers may not find what they are looking for due to navigation issues when they are on your site, they may have registration, payment, checkout and delivery questions or there may be a lack of information about a product.
In all these situations, chatbots can provide assistance real-time like a sales person in a real store. Moreover, chatbots can offer an interactive communication where they also ask questions to understand the real problem. Furthermore, along with text and voice, they can present customers rich content with product pages, images, blog entries, tutorial videos based on their responses that can help them through their journey.
b. Always-Available Customer Support
According to a research by Gartner, customer service is the most important factor to success. So, whether you are an international or a local business, having a good customer service 24/7 has a positive impact on your customer satisfaction.
Customer support process can be improved with the help of chatbots. Bots can be programmed to give automated answers to repetitive questions immediately and forward the request to a real person when a more complicated action is needed. This enables human customer service representatives to save time and assist more important cases rather than time consuming simple tasks.
Additionally, with the help of chatbots, organizations can handle more tasks at the same time so that no customer has to wait. This will allow companies to scale up their operations to new markets globally without multiplying incoming requests to be handled.
c. Proactive Customer Interaction
In general, companies apply a “passive customer interaction”, which means that they only respond to customers when they are contacted and not initiate the communication. In competitive businesses -especially with a remarkable percentage of millennials as customers-, none of the brands have the luxury to act passive anymore.
Since none of the organizations have enough manpower to initiate a communication with all of their customers periodically, chatbots allow you to start a conversation with each customer, regarding any issue, any time of the day. This will make your customers feel that your brand is one step ahead, like a friend who is available 24/7, and (obviously) improve your brand perception in the long run.
3. Increased Customer Engagement
Needless to say, it’s important to keep your customers engaged with your brand. According to a research, companies that engage with their customers on social media were able to increase the customer spend by 20% to 40%. While social media is doing its job, chatbots can contribute by making the engagement more interactive – usually with a great sense of humor!
A conventional customer service interface usually provides more information than it receives from the users. However, Chatbots, in contrast, give only a slice of information at a time and can lead the interaction based on the input the user provides at each specific time. Therefore Chatbots don’t bore customers with irrelevant and unnecessary information and keep your customers on your platform longer and keep the content flowing by maintaining the conversation.
4. Monitoring Consumer Data & Gaining Insights
As mentioned above, chatbots are great tools to communicate with customers. With the feedback they collect through simple questions, you can make improvements on your services/products and even optimize your website by adjusting low converting pages. For example, if your landing page generates a good amount of organic traffic but doesn’t convert well, your chatbot can reach out to customers visiting this page with a survey to collect more information on why they are leaving the page without purchasing etc.
Chatbots can be also used to track purchasing patterns and consumer behaviours by monitoring user data. According to Forbes, this helps a company to decide “which products to market differently, which to market more and which to redevelop for relaunch”.
In other words, companies can track the commands and responses given by their users to the chatbot, predict the responses based on consumer language and direct the bot to suggest a different or a more convenient product or service to the users in addition to notifying sales and marketing departments for personalized services.
5. Better Lead Generation, Qualification and Nurturing
Personalized messaging that assists consumers along “buyer’s journey” is possible with the consumer information that chatbots receive. A bot can ask the necessary and related questions, persuade the user and generate a lead for you. Chatbots ensure the flow is in the right direction to get higher conversion rates.
In addition to generating potential customers and notifying the sales teams, a chatbot can also help you to determine the unqualified leads through identified KPIs (budget, relevancy, timeline, resources etc.) and prevent you to deal with time-consuming leads.
6. Easier Approach to Global Markets
Whether you are already an international brand with customers all over the world, or a local brand who is ready for global business, chatbots can solve your customer care problems in multiple languages and 24/7, 365 days a year. This allows your business to scale up its operations to new markets without having to worry about multiplying incoming requests to be handled.
7. Cost Savings
First of all, implementing a full functioning chatbot, is much cheaper and faster than creating a cross platform app or hiring employees for each task. Businesses have a variety of options from ready-made softwares developed by Facebook, Microsoft and other big IT companies to choose.
Since chatbots are automated solutions, they allow organizations to handle many customers at once, and simultaneously. By “employing” chatbots that complements human agents, you will not only save on employee costs but you will also avoid the problems caused by human errors.
Lastly, because customers can easily access chatbots within seconds and start interaction immediately, user acquisition is also associated with lower cost.
As we can see, Chatbots can be a great back up for employees for relatively basic and repetitive tasks with great speed, cost-effective, easy to implement, maintain and use. The biggest challenge you need to pay attention the most is, the conversation capability or “personality” of your chatbot in order to increase or even just retain your brand perception and customers.