Your Guide to Chatbots in 2018

chatbots

Your Guide to Chatbots in 2018

The very idea of a chatbot can be quite intimidating for some people. A computer giving responses, how will it be received by your customers? Well the truth is the very reason for robots and automation is to make life easier and, if you do things the right way, you can create a great and highly responsive first line of customer support.

Below we’ll discuss ideas on how to use this incredible tool, how to take back your time by automating some low level tasks and make life easier for your customers in ways that matter the most to them.

chatbots
chatbots
chatbots
chatbots

So what are Chatbots?

A chatbot or ‘bot’ is a program that’s built to automatically engage and respond to  received messages. Your chatbot can be set to respond the same way each time, to respond with a specific reply to enquiries containing a set of keywords and the smarter ones can even use machine learning and AI to automatically adapt a response depending on the situation.

Chatbots can be plugged into things like SMS and text messages, the chat window on your website and social media messaging such as Facebook/Messenger and Twitter to respond to messages on your behalf.

If you think about the following two statements (data from Facebook) – “56% of people would rather message than call customer services” – and “53% of people are more likely to shop with businesses they can message directly” – all of a sudden you can see why a chatbot can be so important allowing your business to grow and to save you extra costs on your customer service team.

Data from Drift – a US company that specialises in Chatbots – suggests that the key things your customers would interact with your chatbot for are: (1) To get a quick answer to questions, (2) To resolve a complaint or problem, (3) To get a more detailed answer to a query, (4) Finding a human customer service agent.

The data suggests that businesses need to start using chatbots to streamline customer communications, whether that be marketing, sales or keeping in touch. They can save you lots of time and energy and make you look great with fast and efficient response times.

The Value of a Chatbot

Automation within your business is often the key to staying competitive so being able to intelligently automate as many processes as possible will make you stand out.

If you think about the steady move of global companies towards automation, for example Amazon’s cashier-less stores in the USA a concept already being picked up by supermarket chains in the Netherlands, they’re all moving towards limiting human interactions to those that are only absolutely necessary allowing customers to quickly find what they need with 24/7 streamlined automation.

1. Save Time & Money

If you can automate conversations that would usually require an employee or outsourced service to answer you’re reducing your costs and freeing up that resource to deal with potentially revenue building tasks instead.

2. Generate Leads & Revenue

Chatbots can use direct messaging to gather information necessary to provide effective support. For example, asking users why they’re visiting your page is one question that should really asked in every engagement. Not only can you be sure critical questions are asked every time but your team can become better prepared as a chatbot can get hold of critical information to allow a call back to look detailed and well researched, saving time and allowing a tailored sales approach.

3. Better Customer Outcomes

Your customers don’t always know where to find the information they need. Your customers may not even know what it is they’re looking for. Your chatbot can be busy making the introductions and asking qualifying questions so it can direct your customers to the right place quickly and efficiently – all automatically and 24/7.

4. Provide ‘Out of Hours’ Support

Most of the data suggests that your customers are looking for a quick response so what better way than to automate this process. A chatbot can function 24 hours a day, 7 days a week 365 days a year, unlike the rest of your team. This could be the difference between winning that piece of business and losing it to a competitor.

Getting Started

So who isn’t eager to get started with this exciting new idea? Once you’ve managed to convince your team to let a chatbot assist you there a number of things to plan out.

Here are a few ideas to get your started on the road to success.

1. Define your ideal outcome

There are lots of situations where a chatbot can be useful so it’s best to start with where you’re going to deploy them and what they’re going to do for you so you can make your bots as effective as possible.

If your social media team can’t keep up with the number of enquiries then maybe that’s the place to start by creating a chatbot to respond straight away. Providing an answer to any quick and easy questions would save you time and resource and by acting as an answering service for the tougher questions your customers would feel valued. 

If your website isn’t converting enough traffic into leads or sales then an interactive chatbot can act as a first level assistant to help them. Get this right and you’ll see an immediate impact to your sales.

Which ever way you use them, and there are many, keep in mind what you want to accomplish and how this impacts your customer relationship.

2. Choose the right platform

We’ve already covered the different chatbots you can use on Facebook/Messenger, Twitter and your website, but you should also consider the different customers that they’ll interact with.

Does your Facebook page attract a different age range than your Twitter account? Your website may also attract people looking for your product or service rather than for customer support so your bots need to be tailored to provide the right responses and tone of voice depending on the user.

3. A great opening message

Be open and honest! Always the best strategy when dealing with your customers. Let them know what to expect from your chatbot, that it’s a chatbot and what it can actually do is a good start.

This means your welcome message is incredibly important and getting your customers to respond and use your bot properly. The best opening messages we’ve seen are ones that are compelling, set expectations and ask questions right from the start.

More info – we use SproutSocial for all our Social Media endeavours as we’ve found it to be an invaluable tool to track interactions and ROI, not to mention the amount of time it saves creating and scheduling posts. Keep in mind though that a lot of the material you read online that’s produced by companies in the USA is (believe it or not) USA centred and doesn’t necessarily work here in the UK or other countries. So while the article above is based on an original USA version we’ve tested out the ideas in the UK and updated it so it’s relevant for you with ideas that work.

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