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No more will you hear about chatbots being the next big thing, because they're already here, and they're here to stay. Indeed, they have become increasingly popular in recent years, 2017 becoming known as the “year of the chatbot”. As chatbots have grown and improved, businesses such as American Express and H&M have started using them to provide proactive support and supercharge their customer service experience.
The number of businesses using them has grown exponentially. Chatbots attached to Facebook’s Messenger increased from 30,000 in 2016 to over 100,000 in 2017. By the year 2020, 80% of businesses want their own, and 60% of the youth population already uses them daily.
These statistics confirm that chatbots represent the new generation in tech. No more waiting for the right time to incorporate them into your business. The time has come.
“When the customer comes first, the customer will last.” – Robert Half
According to an online survey, 44% 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.
Still, to be successful, it has to be a smooth experience. Ensure your chatbots are:
The biggest misconception about chatbots is that they’ll take over services and automate everything, leaving businesses with no need of human employees.
This isn’t likely to happen; at least not completely.
At the moment, chatbots deal with queries clearly within their preset remit. Outside of this, chatbots are still able to determine a customer’s initial query, but will pass it on to be dealt with by humans. A chatbot is at its most helpful when customers ask simple, common questions, because the information required to respond has already been gathered.
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%.
Chatbots give support and 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. Hiring agents with 24/7/365 presence and adding the resources needed to give support to the customers round the clock, can prove simply too costly for many companies.
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% of all customer inquiries within 5 years. This means that by 2022, it’s expected that they will cut business costs by $8 billion.
“A sale is not something you pursue; it’s what happens to you while you are immersed in serving your customers.”
Effective chatbots developed by reputable sources, like Acquire, can close sales through robust marketing. For example through:
Chatbots collect customer information like name, profession, and contact details to create customer profiles. In this way, chatbots can be used for both sales and marketing purposes. They keep existing customers engaged with brands and products through push notifications.
Chatbots act like a bridge between brands and customers, providing 24/7 interaction. They communicate like humans, but reduce human error and aren’t affected by emotions. Performing routine tasks easily, chatbots enhance customer service. They can also provide customers with complete product details if needed.
As with anything, chatbots require continuous evaluation and optimization. Chatbot performance must be tracked based on relevant areas like user experience, linguistic capabilities, and usability.
Create a learning cycle, devising necessary changes based on the analysis and then observing the difference your optimizations make towards achieving definitive goals.
Chatbot optimization includes:
“Products are made in the factory, but brands are created in the mind.” – Walter Landor
Chatbots are well-designed to promote brand values to a wide range of prospects, providing friendly interactions and creating a good 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:
And since customers can engage with chatbots at any time, they aren’t restricted by having to wait for support hours to open. These factors in combination ensure customer retention, earn positive reviews and boost the brand.
Chatbots provide a useful platform for broadcasting, reaching potentially massive audiences. They maintain consistent and friendly customer contact, eliminating customer frustration from cold calls.
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.
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.
It can be difficult for customers to choose what to buy. This is why they seek advice. American consumers are interested in receiving chatbot recommendations and chatbots are good at providing this information. They don’t offer reams of irrelevant product recommendations, rather they analyze data associated with each specific customer and render relevant choices on the back of it.
Customers are always searching, and chatbots can recommend similar products to assist them. So, it’s no surprise that 37% of all consumers — and 48% of millennials — are open to receiving recommendations or advice from chatbots.
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.
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.
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.
Chatbots are more than just a trend: they're here to stay. Learn how chatbots are transforming the way companies and customers communicate.