Communication has evolved from traditional advertising through print, billboard, radio, and TV to a more customer-centric approach. Businesses now put more focus on customer experience and engagement through knowledge-based content and a more personalised solution to solving a customer’s issue.
Businesses have taken advantage of different social media platforms to promote their brand or business. These social media platforms have also helped change how businesses communicate with their customers. Through messenger applications, customers are able to talk “directly” to the business or brand whenever they have inquiries or issues that need to be resolved as quickly as possible.
Some brands have also developed mobile apps for customers to have access to additional services the business is offering.
In this article, we’re going to look at bots, what they are, how they can add value to your business and how you can build a custom bot for your business or brand website.
What is a Bot? What is a Chatbot?
A bot is a tool to automate interactions and engagements with website visitors or social media users. Bots usually talk with a user or customer through a conversational interface like Facebook Messenger or Slack. Here’s a few real-life examples: Hubshots and the XEN Systems site both have chat boxes that appear whenever a visitor accesses the site.
An example of a chatbot from the XEN Systems Website. Image credit: xen.com.au
You’re already using bots…
You may not know it, but you have been using bots for years now. Siri and the Google Assistant are forms of bots. Search engines like Google use bots to index websites and find the right results that match your query.
Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana are some of the most advanced bots today. These tools are backed up by artificial intelligence to help the bots understand complex requests, answer personalised responses and enhance interaction over time. This type of technology is still in its infancy, thus most bots are set to follow instructions created by programmers through a bot-building platform.
If you have been visiting different business or brand websites and noticed a chat box that appears in one corner of the screen and asks how they can help you, they are called chatbot. A chatbot is designed to interact with users just like a real human does.
A chatbot will show every time you visit the website. Image credit: HubShots
It is an automated process for the website visitors or social media followers to provide the best user or customer experience. It helps the business to have direct communication with its audience and maintain a presence whenever it is needed. Chatbots are now becoming more common since it’s a direct form of customer engagement that satisfies many customer needs.
How do Bots work?
In this case, let’s focus on chatbots since many people are now using messenger apps to get fast customer assistance.
A chatbot works like a virtual assistant or virtual help desk staff. For example, when you type an inquiry into the pop-up chat box on a certain website, the chatbot is the one answering your questions.
Let’s say, for example, you typed in “Do you have a size 9 ½ Adidas samba in black available?” Using the information that you’ve entered, the chatbot would answer just like a human would answer “Yes, we have a size 9 ½ Adidas Samba in black available. We also suggest you take a look at other similar models that may interest you.”
A Facebook messenger bot for KLM that delivers information about a passenger’s flight status. Image credit: Facebook bot Customer Service.
There are also specific chatbots that you can enable to give you updates on weather, news and other information. You can also book a flight, order a pizza, have food delivered and make other purchases using a chatbot. Alexa and Cortana are also chatbots.
A list of bot that you can add to a team’s Slack account designed for specific tasks. Image credit: Slack
A Slackbot at work. Image credit: HubSpot
What can chatbots do for my business?
Two of the most common artificial intelligence tools people are using today are virtual assistants and chatbots. They are “simple AI” that is customised to help and respond to queries from visitors or users to better direct them to a brand’s customer service person, marketing team or the salespeople.
Bots are changing the landscape of how businesses and customers deal and communicate with each other. According to Hubspot research, 57% of people are interested in using bots to get information whenever they visit a business or brand website.
There are many chatbots created that serve specific purposes, but the ones most widely used are dedicated to customer service. And with continuously evolving buyer personas, chatbots hold great potential for any business.
As you know, more consumers want to be educated before making a purchase decision and they expect that they will be guided through the buying process.
Chatbots help in easing consumer traffic and enhance overall efficiency since they are the first liners that provide structured responses to many common customer queries and can guide them in making their purchase decisions.
This also allows many customer service agents to focus on more complicated tasks that a chatbot cannot do at the moment.
A Forrester report has stated that
- 5% of companies worldwide have been regularly using chatbots since 2016,
- 20% of these businesses were piloting them, and
- 32% of the worldwide companies were planning to use or test them as of last year.
Chatbots provide fast answers and it works.
What are the benefits of chatbots?
Let’s talk about the advantages bots can bring to your business:
1. Instant Messaging and Chatbots
As mentioned earlier, more people are using instant messaging over browsing entire websites and social media profiles. Also, more people are now streamlining their mobile apps, meaning, more people are not downloading numerous apps as before and just retain their core apps (including Facebook, Messenger, Viber, Twitter, Skype, WhatsApp) to get customer service.
Bots, specifically chatbots, would be an advantage since they are often integrated into these existing apps.
2. Chatbots Provide Fast Answers
No more hotlines, no more toll-free numbers, no more hours of waiting for customer service or technical specialists to answer your common questions. Chatbots can provide answers to common questions faster than a whole floor of people doing the same job. Also, many people tend to have repetitive questions, and chatbots can answer them in a fast and efficient manner without sounding annoyed or tired, thus improving customer experience.
3. Available 24/7
Yes, many businesses have 24/7 customer support people, but at certain peak hours, a customer will still have to wait to get hold of an agent that can help them. Bots don’t get tired or sick and will continue to work and provide assistance without breaks unless there’s a system downtime, which rarely happens or if there’s scheduled maintenance which usually brings back the system in just a few minutes.
An infographic showing how chatbots can add value to a business. Image credit: Market Inspector
4. Chatbots Enhance Customer Experience
You’ve likely experienced talking or interacting with some grumpy salespeople or bratty customer service agents, which makes user experience less than ideal.
Chatbots are designed to help customers or users by giving recommendations and solutions as efficiently and timely as possible, increasing customer satisfaction. A customer will not need to browse for hours to find something specific because a chatbot will ask them questions and will be able to determine their likes, dislikes and will provide a list of recommendations to suit the buyer’s persona.
A happy customer will be your indirect brand ambassador because you’ve provided the best customer service at the first touch. Best customer service + happy customer = customer growth.
5. Chatbots Can Grow With Your Business
As your business grows, so does your customer interaction. You may need to hire and train more people to handle your growing customers. There will also be more requests, questions and inquiries that need to be answered and resolved. This will create communication traffic and with it, comes long waiting times and customer dissatisfaction.
A human representative can only handle one customer at a time, but chatbots can handle all of them. There are no delays and this weeds out any common questions that could be answered by a bot rather than a human. As your business grows, the chatbots capabilities will also grow with your business.
6. Chatbots Are Cost Effective
At present, many businesses are still developing and using apps across different platforms. Most chatbot services will only require a one-time fixed rate and usually, this rate is more affordable than developing a cross-platform application.
Many present-day messaging platforms and third-party bot companies provide ready-made templates for designing and building your own chatbots. It will save your company time and money because you will not need an app developer to make your bots.
7. Bots Can be a Valuable Market Research Tool
Chatbots can be a useful customer information gathering tool. Use the information you gather to improve conversion rates by addressing the most common pain points that get brought up to your chatbots. Write a blog post about the most common issues and present a solution. It can also be used to analyse customer patterns and purchasing behavior which can help in making every customer journey more personalised and provide an understanding of the ever-changing market trends.
What Are Your Bot Options?
At present, there are different services that can offer customised bots that can be applied to your business. Drift, Intercom and HubSpot are offering customised bot services that you can use for your business to enhance customer engagement and customer growth.
How to Create a Chatbot?
HubSpot, in particular, will be launching their easy to use Chatbot Builder this year without a need for encoding. You will not start from scratch since the builder will provide ready-made and customisable templates that you can configure according to your requirements and customer specific queries, issues and problems that you’re trying to resolve.
Once you have created your HubSpot account or if you already have an existing HubSpot account, the Chatbot Builder will walk you through personalising and designing your bot using an interface that is easy to understand and easy to get familiarised with. The bot builder will help you map out the many complex rules associated with chatbots.
The soon-to-be-available Hubspot Chatbot Builder page. Image credit: Hubspot
Think of the Chatbot Builder as somewhat like WordPress for chatbot building. It’s easy to use, understand and implement.
In conclusion, the potential for bots in the future is truly promising and the commercial opportunities are great. Platforms and companies that take advantage of bots in providing the best customer experiences are opening to a wider audience and are creating more exciting ways of creating ROI, adding value to a business and providing top notch customer service because:
- It takes advantage of instant messaging UI
- Assistance is available 24/7
- Chatbots enhance the customer experience
- Chatbots can grow with your business
- Chatbots are cost effective
- Chatbots provide fast answers to customer queries
- Chatbots are a valuable market research tool.
In the very near future, people will no longer crawl through websites and search engines to find the information they need, but instead, people will be communicating with virtual assistants and highly intelligent chatbots.
Artificial intelligence has changed the business landscape and the brand-customer relationship. The technology will continue to evolve to meet the demands of the ever-changing market, so don’t get left behind. Adapt to the changes, acquire the best tools and take action now.
If you’ve got a question, just leave a comment below or get in touch to discuss how we can help implement chatbots for your business.
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