The present day business landscape is all driven by the needs and demands of customers. Apparently, there’s been an upsurge in the demand for digital presence of the customer service channels. Many consumers see calling a hotline and waiting to speak to a customer service representative as the most inconvenient option. We tried to explain this in detail in our previous post on How Chatbots Are Disrupting Customer Experience Across Industries.
The digital age has taken instant gratification to new heights, in other words, and individuals have begun to expect this kind immediate service and problem solving to be present in almost all aspects of the consumer process.
This information might seem a bit overwhelming, especially if the idea of offering comprehensive online help to customers is unfamiliar. In reality, however, there is one tool in particular that can help make the overall customer experience a great one and that is Chatbots.
Designed to interact with humans and interpret text in order to respond appropriately with meaningful information, Chatbots have become a big part of the professional landscape. They can be used to help provide real-time information to customers, direct them to relevant links, or even to help increase sales.
The important thing to keep in mind is that not all Chatbots are created equal, and there are certain “golden rules” that must be followed in order to create the kind of bot that will be beneficial for specific situations.
1.Dialogue Is Not The Only Key Component of a Conversational Bot
When it comes to Chatbots, it can be tempting to attempt to create something that will have a “normal” conversation with its human participants. The allure of a Chatbot that is able to “speak” with customers or potential customers is strong and difficult to resist. When it comes right down to the bottom line, however, the added “conversational” feature of Chatbots does not translate into value.
There is an idea that something called “conversational commerce”, in other words, is the direction in which online commerce is inevitably heading. That is not the case, and in fact placing too much emphasis on conversational bots can prove to derail their value altogether. Despite their name, Chatbots do not excel in creating “human” interactions and carrying on conversations with consumers. Their value – and there is much of it to be had lies elsewhere.
Minimize the artifice and resist the temptation to create verbose Chatbots. Instead, pay attention the actual needs of consumers and create a bot that caters to them in concise ways. Focus on a bot that provides clear and accurate information. Best is to minimize pretense and add value.
2. Look at Bots as an Opportunity to Improve Customer Experience
Chatbots are not valuable because they have the (limited) ability to mimic human speech patterns and carry on conversations. They are valuable because they can interact with consumers in a meaningful way that provides them with a service or a piece of information they need. A Chatbot designed for a retailer of some sort, for example, might be quite successful in working with users to help find personalized clothing suggestions.
It might do this by focusing on the user’s purchase history or certain keywords they might supply when asking for suggestions, and using the information it uncovers to help determine similar clothing styles that the consumer might enjoy. The Chatbot augments consumer behavior, in other words, but it does not seek to engage the consumer in any significantly conversational way. It provides information that enables the customer to place a purchase and move on.
This is where Chatbots truly shine. The ability to help customers or provide information quickly and clearly is an important part of the reason why Chatbots are poised to become huge in the customer service arena of businesses across industries. Bots are best used to help save time, relieve frustration, and boost customer experience. In these specific instances, they can prove to be quite valuable.
3. They Can Be The New ‘Yellow Pages’ for Your Customers
Another area where Chatbots can potentially shine is when it comes to creating a hub of information about certain brands or organizations. If a consumer is interested in reaching out to a particular brand but is not sure how to do so or even who to contact, having the option of reaching out to a bot could be of significant help.
Imagine if this information was instantly and easily available across a variety of channels – social media, email, even directly from the brand’s website itself. In a way, these kinds of Chatbots could quickly become a new kind of “yellow page” where consumers are able to quickly find the relevant contact information for their needs without spending a lot of time searching the web in the process.
Why does this matter? It matters because consumers do not want to spend a long time finding a simple bit of contact information. When they need help, they want it immediately – and any delay is only going to increase their frustration and reduce the chances for a simple fix. Thanks to the sheer number of companies out there and the ever-increase competition for must industries, this can spell disaster.
And while this is particularly true for small businesses, or those that are new to the market, it remains true to a certain extent for even the most established of companies. Facilitating conversation between customers and brands is a great example that illustrates just how useful bots have the potential to become – they just have to be utilized in the correct manner.
4. Bots Have The Potential To Improve Bottom-Line Sales
Yet another potential function of Chatbots is their ability to help drive sales. While this can be achieved a few different ways, the most common is probably creating a bot that is meant to interact with users in popular chat-based services in order to fulfill a potential need as soon as it arises. Consider the 1-800 Flowers bot in Facebook’s Messenger application.
When individuals are chatting and the topic of birthdays or weddings comes up – or even when they receive an alert that a loved one’s special occasion is coming up – it is incredibly easy for them to decide that flowers are a great idea. The suggestion is already there, thanks to the bot, and working with the Chatbot to place an order couldn’t be easier.
This kind of spontaneous and instantaneous interaction is where Chatbots can prove to be invaluable to businesses. Giving consumers easy access to a service they might need is a great way to increase sales for brands, particularly if these bots are made available in well-known applications like Messenger or Kik.
5. Building Bots Is Easy. Doing Research On What Value They Will Create is Not
With all of the above said, it might seem as though Chatbots are the natural answer to customer service or sales issues. In fact, it appears as though investing in one is a sure-fire way to create a situation where businesses will receive a great return on their time and effort spent in development.
That is not necessarily the case, however, as Chatbots are not guaranteed to be a hit. While the idea of Chatbots has become more popular than ever thanks to the current push for digital customer service, that does not mean that just anyone can create a bot that is well-suited for its task. More specifically, it is not enough simply to create a bot. Businesses must invest in the right bot for their needs and ensure that it has the right functionality for their customers.
Remember that not all bots are created equal. It is up to the business in question to put in the work necessary to ensure that the bot they design is right for their needs. That means taking the time to research consumer behavior, figure out specific pain points, and determine what exactly a bot needs to do – what role it needs to fulfill – in order to help customers and prove valuable to the company at large.
This is not an impossible task, of course, but it might also not be a particularly easy one. Given all of the different ways that Chatbots can help improve user experience as well as increase brand awareness and drive sales, however, the investment might certainly prove more than worth it provided that the business goes about its development carefully.
When it comes to Chatbots, it is clear that there is much value to be had. The dangers lie in not understanding why or for what a Chatbot is useful. While they do not excel in carrying on intelligent conversations with humans, they are invaluable when it comes to saving time for both businesses and customers alike.
They can work to increase sales and spread brand awareness, and even help ensure that communication between company and customer is an easy and positive experience. With so many reasons to invest, it would be a shame to not at least consider whether or not a Chatbot is right for certain brands. Just keep the golden rules in mind.
Are you considering Chatbots as part of your Digital Strategy to improve customer or employee engagement? This is an area where we should be able to help us. Schedule a call with our bots expert to get more clarity on the Chatbot strategy and implementation. Write to us at [email protected].