The world is definitely changing and thoughts of the Jetsons are becoming real. Bots can do so much for you in 2016, giving you so much value for so little time. Bots, and specifically chatbots, are computer programs that are designed to simulate a human conversation. Siri might be the best example of a chatbot, as well as the newer Microsoft Cortana. These bots can answer your questions, check the weather, order you food and make calls for you.
Even better, they can do this without asking you to download an app, setting up a user profile or installing software. Bots are truly convenient. As well, they are cross-platform and easy to access wherever you send messages. They save time for the customer, who doesn’t have to wait on hold to speak to an actual human and many brands are tapping into this useful and efficient technology.
Think Deeply Before Building A Bot
Within your business, bots also have a place, whether you are a large corporation or a small start-up. Chatbots can have a huge impact on your business, although building one for your organization isn’t something to be taken lightly. There are a number of reasons your organization could benefit from the building of a bot: the cost of development of a bot is going to be lower than that of an app; there won’t be any app store restrictions; and you’ll be able to quickly release it onto the market. But, there are a number of considerations for which you need to contemplate before building a bot for your business.
1. Consider customer needs
First of all, your chances at success are varied and there isn’t enough research to say why. Second, you really need to consider your customer’s needs before designing your bot. You really don’t want to annoy your existing customer base. One thing that a customer does want is value and that trumps the personal attention they may get from the bot. You’ll also need to consider that building a bot is a huge commitment, one with which you’ll need to learn about creating machines, how to get personal with your customers and be ready to make a big change. You’ll have to build your chatbot with the required responses to the questions your customers have, so you need to know what these will be.
2. Consider your demographic
Another important point to consider is that not all customers will be keen to warm up to a bot. Older customers much prefer human interaction on the other end of the line and prefer the traditional methods. Millennials, on the other hand, have grown up tech-saavy and welcome the change to a bot-based customer service strategy. They are more likely to accept the newest trends and roll with them, including speaking to a bot, in contrast to the older generations who are more interested in having things stay the same, even if it does cause them some inconvenience.
3. Consider your customer’s problems
In the same vein, your bot may not be able to solve all of the problems your customers have. Bots will work best with straightforward and easily explainable issues and this isn’t always the case when doing customer service. Some human to human interaction will have to take place, so businesses would be apt not to depend completely on their chatbot to fulfill the needs of their customers.
Before building your bot, you need to consider your customer base and their needs. Will they be receptive to a chatbot on the other end of the line or will they balk and then dismiss your brand? Will you be able to tailor the experience so that your customers are actually able to get what they need from a bot, or is human interaction a more-preferred way of communication for your customers, who may have complex and difficult-to-solve issues that require an actual thinking brain to move forward?
What To Expect When Building A Bot
You’ll have to think about development in different terms that you would an app. While there is a place for graphic designers and development teams, you’ll be relying less on them and more on your writers and actors who will give the bot a human feel. Once the original design is down, the bot does the work and you’ll lack the need for human resources to maintain and operate the bot.
Basically, you aren’t spending infinite resources to create, maintain and distribute your bot, but you vastly are improving your customer service.
Where Can You Fit Chatbots To Connect With Your Customers
Personalization is the name of the game when it comes to treating your customers fairly and giving them a great customer service experience.
1. Winning customers through personalized interactions
You would think that bots would actually reduce the personalization of the experience, but this is to the contrary. Bots will remember you and remember what sort of past interactions you’ve had. They can even anticipate what you want next. Traditional customer service models can only do so much in terms of getting information about a customer and giving them what they want. You want your bot to perform in a way that humans can’t, which leads to higher engagement and conversion. The longer the interaction between the customer and bot, the more the bot will get out of it and be able to give back, in terms of anticipating and reacting to the customer’s needs.
2. Reducing customer frustration
Using bots will reduce your customer frustration levels. Because they rarely will have to wait to speak to a customer service representative via a chatbot, they get a resolution that much faster. Not only will the resolution come quickly, the intuitive bot will be able to give the customer exactly what they are asking for and do it without the emotion that is sometimes expected from human customer service agents. 84% of customers have admitted to leaving a brand simply because of a bad customer service experience that had nothing to do with the brand’s product or service.
Leverage Bots To Connect With Customers In A More Personal Way
Personalized messages via chatbot can actually naturalize the experience for the customer, to the point where they don’t even remember that they aren’t talking to an actual human. As well, bots don’t sound sales-pitchy, which is often a turn-off that customers experience in the traditional customer service model. Rather than feeling like they are talking to a customer representative, bots make users feel like they are speaking to a friend and getting advice. Because chatbots can be entertainment-based, this can both be a positive or a negative, depending on the user.
Understand Different Types Of Chatbots
There are a number of types of chatbots that can benefit your business and allow you to connect with your customers in a more personal way, using less company resources. A consumer resource bot will give your customers on-the-spot information about your business, but provide it as it applies to that customer based on factors like their location.
You can also make it easy for your customer to access your products and services using a bot, where they can easily tell it to do their online shopping and ordering. Sales-advising bots are not only great for giving your customers the information they require to make a purchasing decision, they free up the sales staff and other customer service agents to use their time elsewhere. For example, this type of bot can get all of the necessary information from your customer in order to advise them of the best purchase advice.
The most widely-used bot is the one that will answer customer queries, via email or on the phone. Because many customers don’t always read your businesses’ FAQ, your chatbot can easily give them this information when they ask specific questions. This frees up the time for your customer service people to deal with those more-pressing and complicated answers. Where this has already made a huge difference is on Facebook, where brands can engage bots to answer questions and comments on social media. This increases the brand’s presence there, but without using up precious human resources.
The Essentials In A Bot Lifecycle
You need to understand what all a bot lifecycle includes to build up a remarkable strategy.
1. Extensive Research on Market Requirements
At this point, you’ll gather together all market requirements, which including finding out who your customer is, what they want and what they aren’t currently getting. You’ll then develop solutions that your bot will address.
2. Development of the brain of the bot on the back-end
Here you will identify the features and functionalities that your bot will require. These features will solve the problems that your customers have, as you’ve identified in the first step.
3. Design conversations, patterns and things that make the bot more human-like
It isn’t always easy getting a bot to act like a human, so this step will require some research on how to make your bot more human-like, so it can give your customers those personal one-on-one interactions that they so desire.
4. Writing and Acting Out of Conversations
This step can also be referred to as scripting, where you will actually build the conversations that your bot will have with your customers. It will simulate actual, real conversations that users will have had with human customer service agents and this step will require some tweaking, as there is such a thing as too human-like (and not being human enough).
5. The actual development
At this stage, engineers and developers will work to create your bot, which will require more than what is required in the development of a simple app. Bot building has some unique challenges at this stage. You can refer to our Step By Step Guide To Develop A Conversational Facebook ChatBot Using Microsoft Bot Framework
6. Testing the bot
Before you send your bot out into the world, you’ll want to test it and then re-test it. This time-consuming process requires you test the bot on the actual messaging platform with real-world situations and then fix whatever snafus you run into immediately. These can include not conforming to the guidelines set out for bots, which could mean not spamming people and being able to behave (which could be more than can be said for some human customer service agents).
7. Deployment and publishing
The bot will be deployed to a stable host and then published on various app stores. This process can also be quite cumbersome, requiring various steps to approval. Descriptions, images, scripts, videos and more will be required in the submission process and it can take up some valuable time for the bot’s publisher, especially if you are a first-time bot operator. Approval processes change as fast as the need for bots changes, so it is well worth your time to study up on this process.
8. Distribution of the bot
Once you get approved, you’ll want to get people using your bot. You’ll have to heavily promote your bot and word of mouth on social media is definitely one of the best ways.
9. Analysis and monitoring
Like any good parent, you’ll want to monitor your progeny to ensure they are acting as expected in the real world. Don’t just rely on what the operating system monitoring is telling you; find out for yourself how your bot is behaving in their conversations with your customers. Take notes and make changes if necessary. Track its performance and analyze the results. You will have to set your own metrics for success in order to decide if your bot is meeting these goals.
10. Changes based on initial feedback
If your bot isn’t performing as you’d like it to, of course, like any good business, you’ll have to make changes based on what you are seeing. The metrics may change over time, depending on markets and other available technologies and your business would be best to change with it. Your bot should be “ever-improving”.
As we enter 2017, bots are becoming more commonplace in the consumer world. Deciding whether or not to build a bot for your business is a personal decision, which will require some research and knowledge on what a bot can actually do your company.
There are a number of reasons your organization could benefit from the building of a bot. However, you need to also consider that not all customers will be keen to warm up to a bot. Older customers much prefer human interaction on the other end of the line and prefer the traditional methods. Millennials, on the other hand, have grown up tech-savvy and welcome the change to a bot-based customer service strategy. They are more likely to accept the newest trends and roll with them, including speaking to a bot, in contrast to the older generations who are more interested in having things stay the same, even if it does cause them some inconvenience.
If you are 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. Schedule a call with our Chatbot expert to get more clarity on the Chatbot strategy and implementation. Write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.