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What is a Chatbot & Why is it Becoming a Big Deal?

As Aristotle remarkably once said, “Men by nature are social animals”. True enough, we value interactions with other humans, having a voice and being heard. This is why social media networks like Facebook and LinkedIn are so popular. With such high traffic, social media websites are undoubtedly a buzzing hub for advertisers to promote their products.

However, constantly engaging in social media is not the end-all answer to becoming closer to your customers. You can do more to further enhance the consumer experience.

From the title (spoiler), you can install a chatbot on your website to better interact with website visitors on their terms. Essentially, a chatbot simulates a consumers’ experience in the brick-and-mortar store virtually.

The fundamental purpose of chat bots is to support and scale business teams by building relations with customers online. This helps businesses save a lot of money on manpower, which is one of the reasons why business owners are adopting this technology. Given that these bots can be placed in popular platforms like Facebook Messenger and SMS, it provides an opportunity for businesses to reach a bigger audience.

Although chatbots can be integrated in your own company’s app/ website, it is not preferred by most businesses. Research has shown that each user makes use of an average of 24 apps a month, wherein 80% of the time would be in just 5 apps. This means you can hardly shoot ahead just by creating a chatbot on your app/ website. As such, most businesses prefer to integrate your chatbot on Facebook, which is one of the apps that consumers often use.

While Chatbots may sound like a futuristic notion, you’ll be surprised that – as of 2017, more than 2 billion business-related messages are sent through Facebook Messenger chats. Imagine the sheer exponential growth of your business by connecting to these users more efficiently and effectively.

Here are some of the benefits that chatbots provide:

  1. Keeping Up with the Trends: Being Present on Messaging Platforms

Business Insider discovered that messaging applications have a higher user traffic than social media networks in the first quarter of 2015. As chats are easier to use and connect consumers to business personnel faster, there is a growing preference for consumers to interact with brands through such medium. Hence, businesses can leverage on the opportunity to reach more customers via Chatbots to remain competent and trendy for their customers.

Furthermore, 65% of smartphone users do not download any new apps in a month. This is mostly attributed to the fact that users are comfortable with their own existing apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp etc. Therefore, integrating your own chatbot into one of these popular platforms that your customers use daily, would be a better choice than building a new app and chatbot entirely – which could be costly and time-consuming.

  1. Available 24/7

Remember those times where you dialled the customer service agent and have to listen to the boring music playing while you’re kept on hold for what seems forever? Statistics show that on an average, people spend about 7 minutes until they are assigned to an agent. Fortunately, with the launch of chatbots, live chats and other forms of contact such as emails and phone calls are being replaced. Gone are the days of waiting for the next available operative. Well now, 51% of users expects businesses to be operating 24/7, to answer queries that they have.

Since chatbots are virtual robots, they can be continuously engaged 24/7 round the clock. Hence, consumers can contact businesses even after office hours for help. This improves your customer satisfaction and helps you rank highly in your sector.

  1. Handling Customers

Even to our best abilities, research has shown that human are ultimately restricted by the number of things we can do at the same time. Humans can only concentrate on 3-4 things at the same time. Going beyond this work limit, you are bound to meet with errors.

Chatbots on the other hand can simultaneously have conversations with thousands of people. No matter what time of the day it is or how many people are contacting you, every consumer will be answered instantly and treated equally. Companies like Taco Bell and Domino’s are already using chatbots to arrange delivery of parcels.

  1. Helps you Save Money

Chatbots are a one-time investment which helps businesses reduce the number of staffs required, thereby cutting the labour costs incurred.

Businesses can integrate a customer support chatbot designed to cater and answer simple queries by consumers. Only when met with complex queries, the consumer will then be referred to customer support agents.

  1. Provides 100% satisfaction to customers

A study revealed that workers in the call centre experienced high levels of emotional labour and mentioned that remaining cheerful maybe especially challenging the face of client aggression. As such, there are times where the quality of service falters which leads to consumer dissatisfaction.

However, as aforementioned, chatbots are robots that deliver a standard quality at all times. They will always treat a customer in the politest way regardless of the consumers’ attitude. Furthermore, the chatbot can be programmed to communicate in different language, which is crucial in the travel and hospitality industry where people of different nationality congregate. This is an important attribute as consumers would pay more for a better customer service and helps to increase the retention rate.

  1. Increased Customer Engagement

Needless to say, it’s important to keep your customers engaged with your brand. According to a research, companies that engage with their customers on social media were able to increase customers’ spending by 20% to 40%. While social media is an effective marketing platform, chatbots can contribute by making the engagement more interactive – usually with a great sense of humor!

  1. Personal Assistant

People could use Bots as a fashion advisor for clothing recommendations, or ask trading tips from a finance bot, or suggest places to visit from a travel bot and more. This shows that chatbot is able to provide a personal touch to consumers. Also, the chatbot can store these data and remember all your choices to determine where your interest lies in and recommend similar choices the next time.

  1. Monitoring Consumer Data & Gaining Insights

Simple surveys regarding the business can be done on chatbot to consolidate feedback. From these feedback, not only will you be more informed on the improvements that can be made to your products/ services, you can even optimize your website by adjusting low converting pages. For example, if your landing page generates a good amount of organic traffic but doesn’t convert well, your chatbot can reach out to customers visiting this page with a survey to collect more information on why they are leaving the page without purchasing etc.

Chatbots can be also used to track purchasing patterns and consumer behaviours by monitoring user data. According to Forbes, this helps a company to decide “which products to market differently, which to market more and which to redevelop for relaunch”.

In other words, companies can track the commands and responses given by their users to the chatbot, predict the responses based on consumer’s behaviour and direct the bot to suggest a different or a more convenient product or service to the users, while notifying sales and marketing departments for personalized services at the same time.

  1. Better Lead Generation, Qualification and Nurturing

Personalized messaging that assists buyers along their consumer journey is possible with the consumer information that chatbots receive. A bot can ask the necessary and related questions, persuade the user and generate a lead for you. Chatbots ensure the conversation flows in the right direction to convince consumers to make the purchase, thereby driving conversion rates.

In addition to generating potential customers and notifying the sales teams, a chatbot can also help you to determine the unqualified leads through identified KPIs (budget, relevancy, timeline, resources etc) and prevent you from dealing with time-consuming leads.

Other than Chatbots, there are definitely more up and coming digital marketing trends that you can leverage on to increase your reach. Read more here: Top 8 Digital Marketing Trends in 2019 and How Social Media Can Boost Your Digital Marketing Strategy.