(First published in Sep 2016 on Chatbots Magazine.)
Chatbots are making news everyday. Businesses across various sectors are introducing chatbots for their customers to interact with them. Some the latest ones include TMY.GRL from Tommy Hilfiger, Hey Xero by Xero, and Coach by Just Eat. And yes, there are several already and there are several more to come.
Are you still wondering if your business needs a chatbot? Here are 10 reasons why your business should consider deploying a chatbot.
1. You are an international business.
Are you an international business with customers all over the globe? Well then, you surely are looking for a customer contact solution that is 24/7. Well guess what! Chatbots can work 24/7, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
2. You want to scale.
Chatbots, being automated solutions, allows your business to handle more customers than before. If your existing customer contact solution was powered entirely by human agents, then it would limit your business to handle only a limited number of customers because live agents cannot handle more than 2 to 3 simultaneous web chats. However, by employing chatbot solutions that complements human agents, your business can scale up its operations to new markets without having to worry about multiplying incoming calls to be handled. So, if you are looking to scale, think about chatbots.
3. Your customers have questions about your business policies.
Do you receive a large volume of calls from loyal and potential customers asking questions about your business policies such as deliveries, returns, loyalty schemes, nearest stores for collection, operational hours, etc? Do your customer contact agents have to answer same repeated questions day in and day out? Although answering such questions are important to your business, your agents are going to feel bored when overwhelmed by such tasks. If you want to give them more meaningful tasks to do, you first need to take the task of answering repeated questions away from them. Chatbots fit in nicely to resolve this problem. By acting as the first point of contact, chatbots can screen calls from customers and only pass them on to human agents when necessary or requested.
4. Your customers may need help finding the right product or service.
Often times, your customers may require help figuring out the right product that fits their needs and constraints. This happens when they are buying something expensive, for the first time and the product domain is not his/her cup of tea. Imagine you have taken an interest in photography and you want to upgrade your camera from a point-and-shoot to an SLR. If you visit webstore selling cameras, you could get easily overwhelmed by the number of choices you get. You will now be looking for a sales assistant to ask for recommendation if it were a brick and mortar store. However, you are in a webstore! Chatbots can fill in this gap of providing knowledgeable assistance to shoppers at online stores helping them figure out the right products and services. A LivePerson survey states that 83% of online shoppers need support during shopping.
5. Your products/services are hard to understand.
Your products, services or business model may be complex to understand for many customers, especially first-timers. Chatbots can be used to simplify them. Chatbots can break down the jargon and help potential customers understand the benefits of your products/services in a conversational interaction adapted towards their needs, goals, constraints and preferences. Also, instead of giving customers small print user manuals, you can give them interactive chatbots that can make the onboarding experience easier. Another instance is, if you are a startup with a new and innovative business model, it could be confusing to many potential customers. Chatbots can explain it to them step by step and also answer any clarification questions that they might have.
6. Your target market is the millennials.
Millennials like chat channels more than any other customer contact channels. It is because of their love to chat and text. They do it all the time with their friends. This is one of the reasons why live chat (or web chat) has become a popular customer contact solution over the recent years. According to a survey by Software Advice, millennials prefer live chat over phone to contact a business. But wait! Millennials also like to self-serve. They don’t like waiting to be served. Another research by Aspect, a customer services company, suggests that 69% of millennials would like to solve customer contact issues by themselves without having to talk to anyone in customer service. These two millennial needs are satisfied by chatbots, for they are an automated self-service solution available on chat channels.
7. You want to keep your customers engaged with your brand.
Digital marketers are recommending businesses to keep their customers engaged with the brand. The more you engage your customer the more business they give you. It has been shown that companies actively engaging customers on social media platforms have increased customer spend by 20% to 40%. While social media channels allow for putting marketing material out there for consumers to view, chatbots can spice it up by making the engagement more interactive.
You may want to sell a new product or get reviews for an existing product. Whatever the conversation you want to have, you can dispatch a chatbot to do the conversation for you. If you are selling a financial product, send a bot to talk to a potential customer to see if he/she needs and q
ualifies for the product. The bot can ask the necessary questions, convince the user and generate a lead for you.
8. You are looking for a new engaging way to serve your customers.
Your primary channel of delivery of services or product may be online. Your customers may already be looking for products, placing orders, downloading material, etc from your website or via your mobile app. Would they be interested in a chatbot? Would a chatbot be able to provide your customers a better experience?
Chatbots better than apps and websites in unique ways. Chatbots live on chat platforms like Facebook Messenger and therefore need not be downloaded and installed like apps. And they aren’t as data intensive as websites are. And unlike apps and websites, chatbots are highly interactive, presenting adapted information to users.
However, it is not a good idea to replace every app and website with chatbots. But when a business has a step-by-step process (i.e. a structured conversation) to interact with users, that makes a strong case for chatbots. For instance, a website offering image search would ask a few questions to users before starting a search and more questions later to filter the results. Finally, once the images are selected, users are asked for payment information. Such a step-by-step process can be handled efficiently by a chatbot.
9. You need an efficient workplace.
Chatbots are not just for customer conversations. They can be used internally as well. Every successful business is powered by an efficient team behind the scenes. Having your employees do mundane and repetitive tasks tires them and at worst contributes to attrition. Make your workplace efficient by employing internal chatbots on platforms like Slack to help employees out with answers to questions they might have about your business processes. Automate parts of their work that are tedious, repetitive and boring. This will take away boring tasks from your employee leaving them with interesting and challenging tasks.
10. You are a leader.
Finally, you need to be thinking of chatbots if you are an industry leader and would like to be an early adopter of a customer contact technology with huge potential. In a few years down the line, chatbots will become the digital faces of your brand. And they will be your mascots engaging your customers in every phase of the business process.
In summary, Chatbots are not just for customer service. They can be used for other tasks as well such as marketing, sales and even internal tasks such as assisting employees do their reports. Chatbot is an idea whose time has come. An year ago, chatbots existed only on websites, but now many platforms have opened up for chatbots including Facebook Messenger, Slack, Skype, Telegram, etc. And many businesses have started experimenting with this new and exciting channel. For businesses wanting to expand its horizons and talk to its customers over new channels like messaging platforms, chatbots are the way to go forward.
Try my new book on Chatbots and Conversational User Interfaces Development!