Chatbots. They sound like something out of a Transformers movie. We know they’re around…hiding among us, and to be honest, they’re a little freaky. But artificial intelligence is the future, so it’s time we’ve started embracing this trend. After all, chatbots exist to make life easier and improve customer service for many small businesses owners.
What Are Chatbots?
Chatbots are exactly what you think they are. They’re computer programs that use artificial intelligence to interact with people through text or audio, and they’re all around us. If you own a Google Home or an Amazon Echo, you’ve already chatted with a digital assistant. Yep, Alexa, Cortana and Siri are all types of chatbots. Even if you have messaged a brand on Facebook, you have probably spoken to a chatbot!
Many businesses use chatbots in a textual sense, meaning they communicate through a messenger app or even SMS text. And the craziest part of this? Consumers don’t seem to mind. According to HubSpot, about 47% of consumers say they are open to purchasing items through a chatbot.
The Benefits of Using Chatbots
There are many advantages to using a chatbot and it all stems from automation. If you can automate some of the lower priority business processes, you are able to focus on being more productive in other areas. Chatbots are designed to do exactly that. So how else can they benefit your business? We’ve outlined four ways chatbots can boost productivity and boast long-term benefits for your ecommerce business.
1. Improve customer service
Brands get bombarded with customer service inquiries from many different channels and a lot of small businesses have a tough time keeping up. From Facebook and Twitter to email and phone calls, customers are more connected to brands in more ways than ever. Chatbots can be used to answer simple questions and greet customers, mitigating the negative perceptions around being “put on hold.” What seems like a simple gesture can actually result in customers feeling more valued.
2. Increase social media engagement
Certain chatbots, like ManyChat, are designed to boost marketing efforts. Chatbots are not only used for customer service. They can be used conditionally to engage with your audience on social channels, such as Facebook. These bots can reply to commenters with additional content to help further conversations. Amazing, right?
3. Save time and resources
Chatbots allow businesses to set up various responses to simple customer service questions, freeing up employees to work on other things. A Gartner study predicted that chatbots will power 85% of all customer service interactions in just two more years. While there will always be a need for human support, chatbots can give teams more time to work on other initiatives and help out on more important customer service inquiries.
4. Boost lead generation and quality
Whether it’s on social media or on the brand website, bots can be programmed to ask what the customer needs that day or why they are reaching out. Depending on the visitor’s answer, customer service reps are able to direct these inquiries to the appropriate team and deliver a great experience. This will not only make the support team happy, but also the sales team.