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09/08/2019 Luke Goldsworthy

Using Chatbots and AI for self-service and selling online

These days, customers live in a world that is saturated with communication. They’re bombarded with material  at home, on their computers, on their phones, on the radio, and at work. With an increasing number of businesses vying for the attention of customers, personalising the customer experience has become the norm. However, with so many customer touchpoints available, engaging with them at every stage has become a mammoth task.

Enter chatbots. These amazing pieces of software are designed to talk to users using a live chat interface and are revolutionising the way we do business. They can be hosted anywhere online including your website, online marketplaces (like Amazon and Etsy), and through social messaging platforms like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, Slack, and even Amazon’s Alexa.

The uses for these bots are endless and not limited to helping you buy a new outfit. For example, you can have bots that tell you the weather, bots that help you select and order groceries, bots that provide personal finance advice… the list goes on.

How does it work?

At the most basic level, a chatbot will provide a pre-selected list of answers that you can choose from (much like phone support lines asking you to press 1 to open a new account, 2 to get help, and so on). Advanced bots will scan the keywords in your enquiry to give you a pre-written answer based on your request. More sophisticated bots will go a step further and utilise artificial intelligence and machine learning, actively learning from previous conversations to create responses that are incredibly lifelike and natural.

The benefits of chatbots

1. Stay in touch 24/7

As much as you’d like to be available to help your customers at any time, the reality is that we humans need to sleep. That’s not the case for chatbots however. Whether you are operating locally or globally, chatbots will immediately respond to your customers helping them with their queries or complaints. The instant response means fewer delays in the buying process as customers immediately receive answers to their questions – waiting on a customer support line for hours will soon be a thing of the past!

2. Reduced overheads

Every member of your customer support team will only ever be able to handle one or two customers at the same time. By implementing a chatbot to manage these (often repetitive and manual) requests, your business will not only be able to handle more customers with fewer resources, but also potentially avoid any issues caused by human error. 

In fact, according to a study by Juniper Research, chatbots are expected to help businesses save over $8 billion in operating costs per year by 2022. 

3. Increased engagement

As mentioned previously, it’s important to deliver fully personalised content to your customers to keep them interested and engaged. Chatbots are a great way to do this, and not just because of their instant response. For more advanced systems, chatbots can integrate with your existing CRM, which allows them to pull details from the customer records. 

For example, Jane might come online looking to buy a new pair of shoes. The chatbot will be able to see Jane’s past purchases and make a recommendation based on her historical preferences; or it could schedule an appointment for a fitting if it sees Jane prefers buying in-store. 

4. Go where the users are

It may seem that every man, woman and child is on social media these days, but the facts show us that users actually prefer messaging apps. In fact, in case you missed it, research by Reuters showed that while users on social media platforms were decreasing, messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Messenger and WeChat were seen huge growth.

Another survey conducted in 2018 showed us that not only did messaging apps have more users, the users also spent more time there. For example in 2018, WhatsApp’s users spent a collective 85 billion hours on the platform, compared to Facebook’s 30 billion.

It’s become clear that when it comes to interacting with others, most customers will prefer to do it privately, at a time of their choosing, with 68% of consumers saying that messaging was the most convenient way to stay in touch with a business.

Chatbots are transforming the online user experience, moving towards a more personalised journey. Want to find out how your business could be using chatbots? Get in touch with us today.

Over the next two weeks we will be doing Part 1 and Part 2 of the pros and cons of each platform in implementing chatbots.  So stay tuned…

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