How Chatbots are Changing Customer Service & Improving Sales

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Chances are you’ve interacted with a chatbot during a recent online experience. Chatbots are changing the way brands deliver customer service. A powerful tool, they are changing the way brands build a customer base and boost revenues. Chatbots are constantly developing and improving methods of interacting with consumers. No matter how your company chooses to use chatbots, just make sure you use them as this trend is here to stay.

Understanding Chatbots

A chatbot is basically an artificial intelligence system that interacts with consumers via text. Chatbots are not new; online businesses have used chat boxes for some time. What is new is the way chatbots are evolving from the standard bottom corner chat boxes. While chatbots answer questions they are also tools for booking appointments and making purchases. Data from the AppInstitute shows that chatbots can be used to generate leads, to schedule reservations, and to provide quotes.
 
New Models

According to research provided by HubSpot, 37 percent of people are open to buying items on social networks and 71 percent of people are willing to use messaging apps to get customer service. Messaging apps are quickly becoming the go-to source for consumers to get information and to get it fast. In fact, speed is among the top factors driving consumers to engage with chatbots.

Facebook remains the most used app worldwide. Despite recent controversy, Facebook retains its place as the most used app in terms of registered users and time spent on the app. Facebook messenger has an open rate of 98 percent, a rate that far surpasses email campaigns. Even more impressive is the CTR rate of 50 percent. And the best news of all? No increased in investment is necessary to see an increase in profit. Not only is Facebook messenger a powerful tool, the app itself offers tools for creating your very own chatbot. 

Messaging apps are dominating the app world, with 5 million monthly active users. Most people limit themselves to five apps, most of which are messaging apps. Using chatbots in messaging provides a direct interaction with the consumer without the consumer having to download yet another app. It is simply using existing wheels rather than reinventing wheels to reach consumers. 

Types of Chatbots

As previously mentioned, chatbots are constantly developing in order to create the best customer experience. Here are three examples of chatbots commonly used to engage consumers:

• Customer service chat bots – You’ll hear customer service come up frequently
when it comes to chatbots. This is one of the most common uses for chatbots.

• Personal curator chatbots – Similar to a personal shopper, these chatbots track down what the customer is searching for by asking specific questions. The customer is then able to purchase the item immediately, resulting in personalized and speedy customer service that’s sure to please.

• In-store chatbots – Using a different approach, these chatbots are used in brick-and-mortar stores when stores are super busy. Customers text or message a number provided by the store to inquire about products and services.

These are only three examples and without a doubt, the list will only grow over the next year. As with any consumer communication, always provide an option for opting out. With most chatbots, a consumer simply has to type “stop” in the chatbot to end communication. Chances are if the consumer wants to opt out, that consumer is not a potential lead anyway.

The Leads

Customers become frustrated and angry when they encounter bad customer service. Chatbots, as a customer service tool, serve to ease customer frustrations with helpful information delivered in a timely manner. Great customer service results in brand loyalty and recommendations to friends and family. The potential chatbots provide as far as marketing is invaluable but what, if anything, do chatbots tell you about your customers?

While chatbots assist consumers, they are also collecting valuable data about who is asking what and why. This important data often includes recent purchases, hobbies, and even residential areas. Chatbots also perform lead filtering, alerting you to a quality lead versus what is referred to as “digital dwellers,” people who have no intention of making a purchase. The information obtained via the use of chatbots helps to streamline the sales process and save time by focusing on quality leads.

A Human Component

It’s easy to get carried away in today’s high-tech world. Chatbots are designed to make everyone’s lives easier. For the consumer, it is a quick way to find information without scrolling or doing a search. In just a few seconds, an answer to a question is delivered with little effort for the user. For brands, chatbots are tools for gathering consumer data, finding leads, and delivering great customer service. It is important, however, to not lose sight of those consumers who want to talk with a human either over the phone or in person. A live person has a persona that is all their own and that conveys through their voice and mannerisms that a chatbot doesn’t have. Always provide an option for speaking with a professional staff member.

Tools for Getting Started

Whether you want to revisit your current chatbot efforts or you are new to chatbots in general, here are some tips to narrow your focus:

If you are creating a chatbot to focus on customer service, visit your frequently asked questions page. Another helpful tool is your Google Analytics. Both tools can provide valuable information for building your bot.

When focusing on lead generation, place careful consideration on your customer’s path and end goal. For example, if the customer watches a video, you might want to offer an ebook upon conclusion of the video. To obtain the free ebook, the customer must provide an email via the chatbot and viola, a lead is born.

The Future

In today’s busy world, consumers are rich in choices and poor in time. They know what they want and they expect quick answers as to where they can find it. Chatbots deliver this service and more. In order to be competitive, brands must get aboard the chatbot train. This powerful tool is your brand’s key to stepping up consumer satisfaction, loyalty, and your brand’s profits.

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