No more will chatbots be the next big thing – because they're already here. They have become increasingly popular in recent years, with 2017 becoming known as the “year of the chatbot”. As chatbots have grown and improved, businesses like American Express and H&M have started using them to provide proactive support and supercharge their customer service experience.
Chatbots attached to Facebook’s Messenger increased from 30,000 in 2016 to over 100,000 in 2017. By the year 2020, 80 percent of businesses will want their own bot, and 60 percent of the youth population already uses them daily.
These statistics confirm that chatbots are a popular tech. And if you haven’t already the time has come to incorporate them into your own business.
Everything you wanted to know about chatbots
Get our complete guide to learn about what makes a successful chatbot, use cases per industry, and how to implement your own chatbots.
Here are the benefits of chatbots your business can reap:
1. Chatbots please your customers
Chatbots can provide a smooth experience to customers, so they seem to be a favorite with a great number of people: According to an online survey, 44 percent of U.S. consumers prefer chatbots to humans when it comes to customer relations. This means businesses can excite their customers when adopting a new chatbot.
And keep in mind that, in order to be successful in engaging your customers, your chatbot needs to be:
- Professional and bug-free.
- Aligned to the brand.
- Making good use of linguistics.
- Associated to well-defined tasks.
- Providing proper answers/solutions to queries.
- Working seamlessly on a variety of devices.
2. Chatbots can work alongside humans
The biggest misconception about chatbots is that they’ll take over services and automate everything, leaving businesses with no need for human employees. But, this is mostly a myth; unlikely to happen (at least not anytime soon).
At the moment, chatbots deal with queries clearly within their capabilities. A bot is at its most helpful when customers ask simple, common questions because the information required to respond has already been gathered. But, for more complex tasks, chatbots are able to determine the need for a human agent and pass on the customer’s query.
So, chatbots solve repetitive customer queries, freeing up service agents to handle more complex queries and provide better service to the customers. Therefore, chatbots help raise productivity for agents instead of replacing them.
3. Chatbots work 24/7
Most businesses would like to service their customers constantly, but that’s often not possible due to a lack of personnel or resources.
Chatbots though, are always ‘on’ and can cater to your customers whether it’s morning, afternoon, or after midnight. Even if they can’t answer user questions, they can still save a customer’s details and their query and reassure them that their question will be passed on – much better than leaving the customer frustrated until they can speak to an agent.
4. Chatbots help cut down on operational costs
Every year, around 265 billion customer support requests are made, costing businesses a whopping $1.3 trillion to service. These costs can be significantly reduced with the help of AI chatbots. According to Chatbots Magazine, implementing virtual agents or chatbots can help businesses to save up to 30 percent.
And this makes sense: as we mentioned, for instance, hiring agents with a 24/7/365 presence, and adding the resources needed to give support to customers round the clock, can prove simply too costly for many companies. But chatbots help avoid these costs.
Companies like Autodesk, receive general inquiry calls that can be quickly handled by chatbots. Virtual agents or chatbots are the first point of contact for more complex queries as well, which can easily be escalated to human agents, improving customer service and reducing cost. According to industry research, chatbots are predicted to deal with 90 percent of all customer inquiries within 5 years. This means that by 2022, it’s expected that they will cut business costs by $8 billion.
5. Chatbots offer progressive avenues for marketing and sales
“A sale is not something you pursue; it’s what happens to you while you are immersed in serving your customers.”
Well-developed chatbots, can close sales through robust marketing. For example, some chatbot benefits are that they can help you achieve:
- Improved customer engagement - chatbots can establish personalized interactions with customers, providing credible shopping advice based on their purchase history and preferences.
- Marketing funnel guidance - chatbots won’t keep customers waiting. They seamlessly guide them through every aspect of the sale, addressing each query as it arises.
- Relevant notifications - chatbots are knowledgeable about predicting customer behavior. Because of this, they can push the appropriate notifications to the right people, every time.
- Broadened reach - chatbots can reach out to a huge range of prospects through social media in a way no human could ever hope to achieve.
- Heightened brand value - chatbots can catch customer attention through historical interactions. Customer feedback and data are gathered and analyzed. This is then used to effectively communicate to the right people in the right way.
Chatbots don’t just provide support assistance and product recommendations, they also sell, developing to such a degree that they can now hold payment options. More than 1 in 3 Americans would be willing to buy through a chatbot, making them an influential buying channel.
6. Chatbots can collect data and help you engage customers
Chatbots collect customer information like name, profession, and contact details to create customer profiles. They can also learn what customers ask for, their product preferences, and more.
This way, chatbots can be used to keep existing customers engaged with brands and products through push notifications. They can also provide customers with complete product details if needed, and suggest relevant content. American consumers are actually interested in receiving chatbot recommendations this way. By some research, 37 percent of all consumers — and 48% of millennials — are open to receiving recommendations or advice from chatbots.
The cosmetic brand Sephora has implemented a chatbot in partnership with Kik messaging application. Customers get in touch with Sephora through their chatbot and ask for recommendations for makeup or request product reviews based on their needs. The chatbot recommends selected products and also sends them videos.
7. Chatbots improve with consistent evaluation and optimization
Chatbots require continuous evaluation and optimization. Chatbot performance must be tracked based on relevant areas like user experience, linguistic capabilities, and usability. This will mean that they “learn” to adapt to user needs and constantly offer a better experience.
To ensure this happens, create a learning cycle, devising necessary changes based on the analysis and then observing the difference your optimizations make towards achieving goals.
Chatbot optimization includes:
- Varying invites and welcome messages.
- Incorporating additional information about the brand.
- Adding new products.
- Pricing changes.
- Broadcasting new and more attractive offers.
8. Chatbots meet customer expectations and boost brands
Chatbots are well-designed to promote brand values to a wide range of prospects, providing friendly interactions and building rapport with customers. Customers expect smooth interactions, requiring expedient responses to customer complaints or queries.
Chatbots are able to match these expectations, instantly delivering possible resolutions.
Here are some ways chatbots help meet customers’ needs and boost brands:
- Better open rates – chatbots proactively interact with the customers, delivering them quick responses. They achieve higher open rates than email because of this.
- Better engagement – chatbots send visual content and give information regarding discount offers, or product information to keep the customer interested. This boosts customer engagement.
- Personalized Experience – it’s important for any business to deliver a personal experience to the customers across multiple touchpoints. As a result, sales and customer satisfaction increase.
And since customers can engage with chatbots at any time, they aren’t restricted by having to wait for human agents to sign in. These factors in combination ensure customer retention, earn positive reviews and boost the brand.
9. Chatbots help you showcase new products and services
Chatbots provide a useful platform for broadcasting product updates (and even company updates), reaching potentially massive audiences. They maintain consistent and friendly customer contact, eliminating customer frustration from cold calls or continuous emails.
This forms a basis for push notifications and showcases new products and services. As these notifications are only sent to the appropriate people, based on their interests, customers feel appreciated rather than irritated. Chatbots are the best platform for explaining a business’s new products and services to consumers.
10. Chatbots could change the nature of marketing
Business is all about reaching relevant audiences. But conventional routes make it difficult to analyze and predict customer interests and preferences. Chatbots have the means to change the nature of marketing endeavors and form customer service strategies.
They build good customer relationships and possess the ability to persuade consumers to purchase by suggesting preferred items. Chatbots monitor consumer behavior and track interests, helping to push only relevant notifications based on individual interests.
Chatbots help improve business all around
Chatbots offer many benefits for businesses, saving them money while increasing sales and conversion rates. With the advancements of AI, NLP, and machine learning, they are set to become more and more intelligent, leaving the future of chatbots looking very bright.