Are Chatbots a Good Idea for Your Business?
No matter in which business area you are working, you are dealing with customers in some form. They say that the most important skill nowadays is communication and that all our successes and results truly rely on our relationships with customers and the way we communicate with them.
That’s why the most common question when it comes to customer satisfaction always is – which way of communication is the most effective? You must be aware of the fact that more and more companies are starting to implement chatbots in their business with the aim to improve relationships with their customers and therefore boost the business.
What are chatbots, how to use them, and whether your business actually needs them, is exactly what we are covering in this article.
WHAT ARE CHATBOTS?
It seems like everyone around is talking about chatbots, and you are probably not sure whether they are talking about some application or some intriguing new TV show.
To clear it once and for all to you, chatbots are special programs designed to automatically respond to the message that you have received on your blog, website or whichever platform you use for your business.
These clever (one can freely say) robots can be programmed in different ways, regarding what suits you the best.
For example, they could always respond in the same way no matter what’s the message. For instance, the response could be “We are currently out of the office, leave your contact details and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible”, or something like “In order to find the answer to your question, check our FAQ section. If the answer is not there, don’t hesitate to write to us”.
On the other hand, you can easily program them to respond differently to messages depending on the specific keywords those messages contain.
For example, whenever someone sends a message that consists of the following keywords: “nearest” “shop”, your chatbot could send them the message containing all the shops around the country and their addresses.
Or, if the question had some keywords such as “free” and “delivery”, the answer could have all the needed information about the delivery system, as well as the price range.
Finally, there are chatbots that use machine learning to adapt their responses to the specific message. These are the most advanced ones, giving the fact that they are giving the most personalized answers and replacing the human to human interaction most closely.
Even though you might have not used chatbots for your business yet, you must have certainly communicated with one. They can easily be noticed and recognized as chat mediums similar to SMS text, in a form of a website chat window and eligible on social messaging services across platforms.
Now that you are aware of chatbots, how they are built and designed, let’s see how exactly are they helpful to our business and why many choose to implement them. And if you are intrigued by their existence, you can later learn more about their history and how they became one of the most useful things in business.
WHY ARE CHATBOTS GOOD FOR BUSINESS?
There are many things that could be mentioned here – from saving money to appearing more professional and so on, but one thing that generally stands out is the fact that chatbots are enabling everyone who runs a business to always be available for their customers.
What does that mean? Human beings are interesting species who can never be completely categorized and understood, leaving us often surprised with their habits or behaviors.
In other words, you can never completely predict when will your target group be online and in a search for your product or service, and not getting an instant response from you will probably lead to them finding someone else on the internet who offers the same and most importantly – is currently there, ready to help them.
There are a lot of researches claiming the same thing – everyone values time differently, and a majority of people isn’t patient enough to wait a longer period of time to get something they want, even if it’s only a piece of information.
The reasons for people’s urge to know everything immediately can vary, but one consequence is sure – it shaped nowadays business leaving no choice for those who want to succeed, but to try to be available as much as possible.
This is probably the main reason businesses are implementing chatbots, trying to keep up with everything and be the first ones to provide the potential customer with everything he or she needs.
10 BENEFITS OF USING CHATBOTS IN YOUR BUSINESS
For you to get a clearer picture, we’ll enlist the most important benefits of using chatbots in your business that are applicable no matter in which field you are working. Let’s begin.
1. Being Present in Top Messaging Applications
Researches have shown that users have the low tendency of downloading any new application when in search of something. For example, instead of searching for an app that will tell them where the best place to buy new shoes is, they will simply search through Instagram or Facebook for shoe stores and find what they are looking for.
Therefore, it is highly recommended to be present in some of the top messaging applications nowadays and choose possibilities of chatbots to be visible and instantly available to all (potential) customers.
There are more and more entertaining chatbots being designed for top messaging applications, such as Facebook messenger each day.
2. Customer Assistance
Customers, customers, customers – we can’t stress enough how important they are. They are the main stakeholders of any business, and their satisfaction can do a lot for your business. On the other hand, their dissatisfaction could harm you more thank you think.
No marketing strategy in the world can come close to the word of mouth strategy, that bases simply on people recommending your product or service to a friend or an acquaintance.
Since people have trouble believing in what is presented in the commercials, hearing from someone they trust that some product or service is worth their money or time, their readiness to purchase what you offer grows disruptively.
Now try imagining what a bad commercial could do to your business. And this doesn’t even have to be linked with the product or service, it could be simply linked with the way you treated your customer.
Response rate and the time it takes you to respond are important criteria when it comes to customer satisfaction and forming of their impression of your business.
Therefore, being available to respond immediately and help your customer using a chatbot is something that will help you improve your customer satisfaction score, and therefore, grow your business.
For instance, if you are selling something online, having a chatbot that could assist your potential customers during the purchase is something that lifts up the chance of them actually purchasing what they need.
This happens due to the fact that all companies have different websites and ways of selling products and nobody in this world can be familiar with all of them.
If you (or your chatbot) are not there to help your customer, they will choose somebody else who has
a. simpler website they are familiar with
b. miracle of the modern world – a chatbot that can guide them through the purchase.
3. Customer Support
This is quite similar to the previous one and well connected, but you should consider reading this especially if you are looking for a way to upscale your business and start operating globally.
As mentioned before, customer satisfaction is one of the most important factors in each business. Therefore, customer support should be your number one priority if you want to prosper in any way. You can try imagining chatbots as your personal assistants.
How would your workday look like if there was somebody who would answer all the messages instead of you? How much free time would it give you? Can you think of ways you could be using that time to grow your business? We can definitely name a couple.
We are all aware of how time-consuming answering messages, e-mails, and requests can be – not only in work life but also in private. Most probably you can recall a concrete situation when you just asked yourself “how did it take me this much time to only answer the messages?”
Of course, when it comes to private ones, you can postpone them for a bit. But in the business world, you need to be agile. To cut to the point, there is no human that can be faster than a programmed machine, our good friend chatbot.
If you consider the chatbot your personal assistant who answers all the simple questions your customers have (the fact that they are simple, doesn’t lower the time it takes to answer), leaving you to handle more serious tasks in your company.
This way, all customers are more than satisfied – they got all answers really quickly and they didn’t have to wait even a bit – chatbots are multitaskers and are definitely more responsive than any human being (no offense).
So, if you still have doubts whether a chatbot can handle all your customers, bear in mind that you can program them in a way that they give the answers you would give, and if the question is too complicated – they just forward the message to you and let you know you are really needed.
4. Proactive Customer Communication
You must certainly have a database with all the customers and their current state, for example, their name and the exact thing they are looking for, with a note aside saying something like “contact him in April and send him the new portfolio” or “contact her when the spring collection arrives”.
If you are just starting your business, you will be able to handle all your customers. But if you are already in a business with lots of customers and notes regarding them, you won’t have time to do a follow up for all of them. You need help.
That’s when chatbots come quite handy. You can program them to send specific messages in a specific period to your customers, and spare yourself worrying about that. Your customers will be more than glad to find out that you care about them and that you didn’t forget about the ask they had.
Another good example of this is the way portals that offer internships or any other opportunities (job-related, travel, etc.) use chatbots to encourage their customers to apply for an opportunity.
For example, you can program your chatbot to send a message to your customer after 7 days of them not applying, saying something like “Hey, it’s been some time since you haven’t applied. Can I help you find the perfect opportunity for you? Tell me what you are looking for”.
This has shown some great results when it comes to customers’ engagement and later, their purchase of the product, or in this case – a service.
5. Customer Engagement
Yes, there is another way chatbots can be beneficial when it comes to customers and your business. Many companies have installed chatbots with a clear purpose of interacting with your customers and building a relationship.
A relationship based on a talk with a chatbot? You probably think that I’m kidding, but actually, it’s is well know that chatbots are quite popular and talking to them could be quite amusing. For example, if your customer is on your website, exploring your products, a sudden interesting message could break the monotony and make the search above expected.
Program your chatbot to be witty and to always have an interesting question for your customer and you can’t go wrong. There are many chatbots that are built only for the entertainment and even if you don’t have experience with them, you probably must have heard about Cleverbot, JokeBot, and others. Being part of the trend will definitely be appealing to your customers.
A good thing about chatbots is the fact that they never overwhelm customers with unrelated information, but on contrary – they base the entire conversation on the customers’ needs, so you don’t have to worry about that.
Just program it to start the conversation with your customer, and after a good laugh, it could ask him or her to send him a recommendation from your catalog, based on their previous searches. Even though people are aware that they are talking to a program, they look forward to suggestions and often follow them, knowing that behind this program, is an actual person.
6. Collecting Feedback
What a better way to use the power of talking (in this case – writing) than to collect useful feedback from your customers right when they are considering buying your products.
We all have been in a situation when are leads dropped out from the business, not giving a clear explanation or providing us only with an excuse. Most people aren’t familiar with the feedback culture and have really hard times saying honestly why they are deciding not to proceed to the end with us.
This can easily be solved because people are having fewer difficulties being honest when they know they are anonymous and at that moment talking only to a computer, which feelings can’t be hurt. It is an excellent strategy to use chatbots to pop up with a question for a visitor on your website when they are about to leave without purchasing.
You can try different questions, depending on which information is the most relevant to you. After you collect feedback and improve that bottleneck, you can move to the next, until you completely adjust to your audience.
This is a good and easy way to get to know for real your target group and people who are interested in your offer and see what they actually need. Use it to track your customers and improve the conversions you are having trouble with.
7. Customer Flow
If you are in a place to work with many potential customers and trying to dedicate yourself completely to all of them, you are probably struggling. Giving them equal attention is almost impossible and actually completely unnecessary since not all of them will actually become your customers in the end.
But you are probably wondering, how could you tell if somebody is worth your time or not if you don’t start working with them? There is again a simple solution that chatbots provide, and it can be perceived as the funnel.
At the top, you have all potential customers or consumers who all are interested in what you are offering – or at least they think that they are interested, but they need more information. Using a chatbot that would contact all of them and start communication about their interests is something that could help you determine who will actually be your customer.
You can design different messages that should be sent throughout the entire customer flow, including questions about customer’s interests, budget, timeline, resources and everything else that you find relevant, that can help you realize if somebody fits your buying persona.
If that’s the case, that’s the moment you should personally step in and contact the potential customer, ensuring that you close this lead your chatbot has been nurturing for you.
8. Do you speak English?
Obviously, you do, but what about different languages? If you are doing your business globally, you will probably find yourself in a situation that not all of your customers speak English and can recognize the value that you are offering.
Instead of hiring 2, 3,…,10 (we really hope you are successful worldwide) people who speak different foreign languages, how about installing one chatbot that can communicate in all of the languages that you need?
Much easier and not to mention how cheaper solution it is. Another good thing is that you don’t have to worry about the time zones, if you are, for example, shipping abroad. Somebody from overseas could contact your chatbot and order what they need without waiting for a new day to come in the place that you are living.
9. Eliminating Costs
Favorite two words of every businessman (and women!) out there. Chatbots are quite interesting – someone would say amusing, helpful, agile, but most importantly – they represent a way for you to save some money and reduce the costs of your business!
For starters, using one chatbot that is familiar with all functions and expertise needed in your area of work is much easier and cheaper than designing a completely new application with all of the functions, or even hiring a new employee to be responsible for each part of the business.
Chatbots are multitaskers – you became aware of that earlier in this article and when you take into consideration this task, you realize that you don’t have to hire a huge number of employees to help you handle the customers and on the other hand, you don’t have to worry about losing any customers due to the lack of people hired in your company. This helps you save much more money that you can imagine.
And in the end, we all know that the “Time is money” is not just an empty phrase, but the real picture of the life. In other words, all the time you save by using chatbots, you save your money, too. This goes also for your entire process time that takes a lead to become a customer, so imagine how saving money in each phase of the process can help you save the money in total.
10. Your Employees’ Satisfaction
We’ve talked about customers through the entire article without mentioning employees. If somebody asked you what is more important to you – your customers or your employees, what would you say?
We certainly hope that your answer was employees because the equation is quite simple: happy employee equals a happy customer. This practically means providing your customers with everything they need and showing them that they are always in the first place for you.
On the other hand, nurturing the culture of placing customers in the first place and leading your employees towards fulfilling this should be your second role.
Given all of this, you must admit that doing constantly a repetitive work that doesn’t require much thinking or creativity isn’t something your employees would value or consider a good working place. Remember, disappointed employee equals a disappointed customer.
In order for this not to happen, you can use chatbots for all the routine work, such as answering customers’ messages, and enable your employees to develop themselves by doing something more challenging, and therefore, develop your business.
DOWNSIDES OF CHATBOTS
As everything in the world, even chatbots have their downsides. Even though they are not huge, they are definitely worth mentioning.
The main obstacle we are facing is the fact that chatbots are not always qualified enough to solve the problems they are given. Instead of increasing customer satisfaction score, they could do the contrary, as many people have reported chatbots as not being useful to them.
Another fact is that people are still not completely ready for chatbots. They still lack trust and often might lose interest in your offer, just because they don’t want to base their decision on a talk they had with a chatbot.
Taking everything into consideration, you can see how useful chatbots can be. No matter in which industry you are, you can implement them and use them for at least one area of your expertise. Many are using chatbots for the entire business and still, there are more people who are satisfied than those who gave up on chatbots and returned to the traditional way of talking.
You have to think about your goals and ambitions and all the resources you have. Think about how far is what you are striving for from the place that you are at right now. What do you need to get there? Can you think of a way a chatbot can help you move one step closer to the goal? Or maybe even a few steps?
These are all things that you should take time to think about before making a decision. Also, finding someone who develops chatbots and consulting with them is also something worthy of your time. If you have an idea how to implement chatbots in your business, ask for a piece of advice and get it from the first hand.
Whatever you decide, don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t settle for an easy one, but boldly search for the best solution for your business!
Companies are faced with an increasingly competitive job market and they need to be smart about the …