Thinking of getting a chatbot for your company?
While they’ve been slowly cropping up on our favorite websites over the last few years, there’s a lot that we still don’t know about chatbots: how they work, exactly, and how we can benefit from them.
Still, it seems that chatbot technology is here to stay, and it’s proving to be an integral part of how we do business. According to Gartner, by 2020, 85% of our engagement with businesses will be done without interacting with another human. Instead, we’ll be using self-service options and chatbots. Additionally, according to an Oracle survey, 80% of businesses said they currently use or are planning to use chatbots by 2020.
In my own company, Oh Ya, chatbots have proven to be tremendously useful front-line agents, helping to field inquiries and refer interested prospects to a scheduling system. Our chatbot can also recommend products and send uncertain visitors to a budgeting tool. In short, chatbots can help to simplify the purchasing process by answering questions and doing much of the preliminary work that customer service reps would have traditionally done.
Here’s a look at what you should know about the benefits and best practices for creating a chatbot that works.
What Are Chatbots?
Simply put, a chatbot is a chat program that engages with website visitors to answer questions, provide information, recommend products and help customers on their purchasing journey.
There are currently more than 300,000 active chatbots on Facebook’s Messenger and more than 150,000 registered accounts used by developers.
With these figures, it seems chatbots are poised to take off in a big way. On the consumer side, over 59% of millennials and 60% of Gen Xers in the U.S. have interacted with chatbots. And according to a Facebook survey, more than half (53%) of customers say they’re more likely to shop with a business that they can connect with via chat.
On the business side, chatbots are also resulting in improved customer service and increased sales. Take a look at Sephora, for example. Their reservation assistant increased the average user spend to $50, whileTommy Hilfiger’s use of a Facebook chatbot resulted in an 87% rate of returning customers.
It’s also worth noting that not all bots are created equal, and chatbots vary considerably in terms of cost and capability depending on what technology they use. Command-based chatbots, for example, rely on a database that contains a bank of replies and processes and work by selecting an answer that matches the query. These chatbots can’t learn or create new text. Instead, they rely on their database to answer.
Artificial intelligence (AI)-based or machine-learning chatbots, on the other hand, are “smarter” and can answer more ambiguous questions, creating replies from scratch. These bots are able to learn as they go. Unfortunately, though, as you may have guessed, AI bots are often more costly to build.
Five Chatbot Best Practices
The best chatbots are built with a target audience in mind and keeping their needs at the forefront throughout the creation process. If you’re thinking of implementing a chatbot for your company, here are a few tips to consider:
1. Track Down Your Audience
First, you’ll want to figure out which chat platforms your target audience uses most often. From there, you can find a chatbot program that will integrate with your platform of choice.
2. Determine Which Bot You Should Implement
Next, you’ll want to determine what type of role your chatbot will play. Will it generate leads, provide information, facilitate a transaction or engage and entertain? Don’t just create a bot in an attempt to be cutting-edge. Think about which area would benefit your customers the most.
3. Create Engaging Copy
Successful chatbots employ a carefully constructed messaging journey, and you’ll want to ensure that you create engaging and brand-relevant copy and storylines to draw in your audience and keep them engaged.
You’ll also want to keep your chatbot as human as possible. Avoid creating responses that sound canned or robotic. When my team was building our chatbot, one of the top challenges was finding a way to keep the dialogue as natural as possible. Your customers know it’s a bot, but a genuine conversation is still a key component of a good customer experience.
4. Start With A Good Strategy
It’s easy enough to build a chatbot, but creating a successful strategy is far more challenging. The best chatbot experiences are driven by creativity, marketing prowess and powerful back-end technology.
In today’s fast-paced world, being able to provide instant solutions to your customers is where it’s at. Employing a chatbot strategy that’s carefully constructed with your customers’ needs in mind will enable you to take your acquisition and conversion strategies to the next level, allowing you to create a satisfied customer base that keeps coming back for more.