Chatbots started making an appearance a while back, but they were only used by large companies. Since Chatbots were a new invention, medium to small businesses weren't sure if the concept had any place in a business that was struggling to reach as many clients and customers as possible. The first versions used a distinctly emotionless voice and it was unclear how customers would respond. After all, one of the biggest things you were told when you started your business was that you needed to give people a personal feel. That is still true, and today you can find a chatbot that makes it easy to still deliver on that experience.

Chatbots can be very beneficial. Here are five ways a chatbox can help grow your business.

  1. Accessible anytime: Works 24/7 every day
  2. Able to multitask: The bot can chat with many of your potential clients
  3. Automates repetition: bots make repetitive tasks a breeze
  4. Low overhead cost: Cost less than hiring a team of personal assistants
  5. Able to analyze customer data: The bot can analyze customer data and send you an email or alert if the data would interest you

Before we dive into the five ways a chatbot can help grow your business in just a second, let's break down what a chatbot is so you understand it better.

What is a Chatbot?

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Simply put, chatbots are computer programs designed with artificial intelligence (AI) that have been created to hold a conversation with someone on the other end. They can be found on phones, Siri for example, or on websites like WholeFoods and Staples, where they offer support, answer questions, and help fix minor issues. Their responses are based on what the customer is telling them. Let's look at an example.

I recently ordered something from Amazon and it didn't arrive on time. I then proceeded to track the package. Supposedly the package reached UPS, went out for delivery, but never got delivered. I stopped getting updates from UPS so I called them and they told me to contact Amazon. When I got to the Amazon site, I had several options, one of them was to start a chat. I thought "Good, a person I can talk to now."

I clicked on the chat button and got an answer with an introduction asking what they can do for me today. As I explained the situation, there were hesitations that appear as though someone was reading what I wrote. I was asked for my order number and to wait for a bit longer. The pause isn't normally very long, just long enough to make you feel the person on the other end was checking on things.

Then I got my answer. The person on the other end says they notice there seems to be a problem with the delivery and that they will consider it lost and replace my shipment. They give me details, even upgrade my shipping and ask if there is anything else they can help me with. This person was really helpful and I end the chat feeling heard and satisfied with the results.

More likely than not, that "person" was a chatbot designed for this task. It was able to look up my account, analyze the information, check on the status of my delivery with UPS and respond accordingly. All of this without me knowing there wasn't another human on the other end.

This may make sense for a business that deals with millions of customers because chatbots can be available 24/7 for millions of requests, but how can a chatbot help your business while it is still growing? Here are the five biggest reasons you need a chatbot.

Chatbots Are Accessible Anytime

Chatbots don't need to sleep but you do. You could hire someone to fill customer service positions around the clock, however, humans are expensive, they need bathroom breaks, lunch breaks, sick leave, vacations, etc.., that’s a large investment that you may not have right now. Chatbots, on the other hand, won't call in sick, leaving you short-handed.

As your business grows, you will acquire a customer base that covers all parts of the world, and that means many will be doing their business as you are snuggled under the blankets for the night. Rather than having them "contact us during normal business hours," or leave a message that may take a while to get to and answer, a chatbot can be available immediately. In many cases, the issue could be taken care of before your morning alarm rings.

Customers who get questions answered quickly are more likely to return in the future. They feel valued. Consider a customer in England contacts your California-based business and wants to place an order for an item but doesn't know what payments you accept. If he can't get in touch with someone the moment he is ready to buy because you are closed for the day, he may look around and find a similar item that he can purchase immediately. If you had a chatbot, it would not only answer his question when he called, but could also be programmed to ask if he'd like to place an order now. The chatbots quick response at the moment the client is ready to buy will most likely gain you a sale.

Chatbots Are Multitask Extraordinaire

Many people believe they are experts at multitasking. Studies show, however, that after three or four tasks being done at once, errors start to occur. Humans can only do so much before they become tired, confused, overwhelmed, or completely mixed up on what needs to be done or what has been done. Due to this, it is speculated that 85% of customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by 2020.

Think about the times when you have had to carry on several individual chats at the same time. Each person has had to wait longer than expected as you answer other texts. If the number increases, you may completely forget to return to one conversation or respond in the wrong chat. Nobody is getting the full attention they need or deserve. That is simple human behavior. Your brain was not created for extreme multitasking. Chatbots, on the other hand, are designed to carry on hundreds of things at once. A chatbot can not only answer all dozen calls at the same time but can deal effectively with each scenario, leaving all the customers feeling like they have been given the attention they ask for.

Chatbots Handle Repetition Well

Some tasks take time away from important things that require a real human. Everyone loses. If a chatbot is assigned repetitive tasks, this frees up employees to handle more important tasks and morale improves. 34% of executives say the time they freed up using chatbots allows them to focus on deep thinking and creating. People become restless when having to do the same task over and over again. As time progresses, the human attention span has gotten progressively shorter. When repetition enters the picture, the mind quickly tunes out. This can result in errors, the unintentional tone of complete boredom in a person's voice, and customers that are sent away dissatisfied.

Consider something like mailing list sign-ups. In the past, someone would have to manually gather the information provided by the subscriber, making sure newsletters reach inboxes at the correct time. They had to make sure everyone on the list got a copy. If email or mailing addresses changed, that had to be addressed and everything else changed. Over time, people got missed, errors were made in transferring email addresses, ads didn't get sent out in time, etc. This kind of work is easy to carry out, but it is time-consuming. Attention wavers and mistakes get made. It is the kind of job that has a high turnaround in employees. Chatbots, however, can gather the information, automate the sending of materials, and make changes in seconds. They can do these tasks quicker and more efficiently, freeing up human employees to concentrate on more challenging tasks, like content and interaction with in-person customers.

Chatbots Have A Low Overhead Cost

Chatbots cut down operational costs. Every year there are a reported 265 billion customer requests. Businesses spent close to $1.3 trillion to service these requests. Using chatbots can help save up to 30% of that. This number is growing because of the speed of communication and ease of use entices millennials to use chatbots more.

Think about the common questions customers are always asking. It's a pretty safe bet that you are receiving the same dozen or so questions many times throughout the day. Maybe you receive calls continually about shipment information or balance inquiries. These are simple questions that have quick answers. Having a customer service representative take the time to answer the same things over and over again may take only a few minutes per each inquiry, but those minutes add up. Having a chatbot available to take on the easy frequently asked questions such as looking up when an item shipped or telling a customer what colors a product is available in will free up your human representatives to handle the more important calls that come up. Callers won't be stuck on hold for a ridiculous amount of time for a simple question and your representatives won't become frustrated with mundane calls. You end up not having to hire as many people to answer the calls because they are dealing with fewer calls throughout the day. Everybody wins.

Chatbots Can Analyze Customer Data

In order to foster a lasting relationship with your customers, you need to learn things about them. You need to be able to know things like the types of service or product they prefer, what they have already bought, the likelihood of them being interested in a new product or service and much more. The more you know about your customer, the better you can personalize your interactions and make them feel valued. A valued customer is a loyal customer. It can be difficult for a human to gather all that information. It can be even more difficult to have that information pulled up and available the moment a customer is on your website or on the phone. For chatbots, however, all this information can be available in mere seconds. Chatbots can also analyze the available data on a customer and make recommendations.

Let's take an easy example for this one. Say you sell snowboards and snowboarding gear, and have a customer who has bought from you in the past. The chatbot might suggest a video on the new snowboard gear you have in inventory. These suggestions would be directly associated with the snowboarding equipment the customer has already shown a clear interest in.

This serves two purposes:

  1. The customer is pleased that someone noticed they were interested in something.
  2. You showed interest in them and you get a chance to make more sales.

Final Thoughts On Chatbots

Today chatbots not only save you time and money but they also have the ability to help humanize the customer experience.  With the ability to effortlessly personalize the customer's experience based on a few simple answers, it is almost possible to forget you aren't talking to another human. Chatbots don't have "bad days" that show stress reflected in the interaction, they remain calm regardless of the situation, and they help customers avoid wait time. When reviewing taped calls, a number of business owners have ended up smiling at the polite "please" and "thank you" they often hear from customers who automatically use the manners they would with humans. Those who use chatbots have found customer satisfaction ratings steadily rising. Try it and see for yourself.

Reach out to us for a smooth transition into using chatbots for your business or keep an eye out on our blog posts for more information!