Do you have time for a chat? Chatbots always do.
“People-to-people conversations, people-to-digital assistants, people-to-bots … that’s the world you’re going to get to see in the years to come.” – Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.
After the launch of chatbot channels by Facebook and Kik last year, thousands of chatbots have been built by various brands and developers on these platforms. And even more are expected to come in 2017.
The spike in this chart is at the time when facebook announced to open its platform for chatbots and there has been a steady increase in the trends. Facebook decided to deliver automated e-commerce guidance, customer support and interactive experiences through chatbots. Mark Zuckerberg wants to connect businesses more to the customers. He said – “We think you should be able to message a business like you would message a friend.” And that’s what messenger is doing now a days.
Now let’s understand some quick stats based on a recent study. This is about what people want from businesses in terms of support and availability.
- 51% people want a business to be available 24/7.
- 45.8% people prefer messaging over email to contact business.
- 49.4% people prefer messaging over phone to contact business.
Let’s see where chatbots stand in all these facts.
- Chatbots allow businesses to be available to the people 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Chatbots are broadcast over messaging apps like facebook messenger, kik, etc.
- Chatbots allow consumers to have a direct contact without dealing over phone calls.
It thus, eliminates the annoying duty of putting call on hold and navigating to different departments by pressing various buttons.
The 3 stats above clearly indicates that using chatbots will highly improve interaction between businesses and customers.
- Although the bot revolution is in its early phase, but the enthusiasm is clearly growing among the customers and businesses.
- But wait!
- What chatbot is? What they do? Let’s clear them up all!
What are chatbots?
A chatbot is a computer program which is designed to create a conversation with the humans over the Internet with the text or digital chats. In simple terms, it is a chat service powered by artificial intelligence that is rising as the new voice of consumers. The conversational abilities of these bots are getting stronger with time due to advancement in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Artificial Intelligence (AI).
These chatbots are programmed in a couple of different ways. The most primary one is rule-based. These types of bots are similar to the automated consumer service lines (eg. “press 1 for English”), guiding them through a decision tree model. They extract the user’s natural language and converts it into a command that machines understand.
The most powerful thing about them is that they provide the most natural interface i.e. language. They allow users to remove the hindrance of buttons and pixels and letting them present their questions and interests in their own words.
How chatbots are transforming the industries?
Initially, these were designed for customer service but now its evolution has made them ideal for marketing. The bots can mimic a human and have a conversation with the customers that can purely reflect the brand’s identity if scripted well.
At present, the brand new platform is messaging and the latest apps are bots. This shift is changing the end-user experience and will definitely change how the brands interact with the customers. Although these are still the early days of chatbot era, but many brands have adopted this trend of communication to boost their marketing efforts. Surprisingly, these brands are already seeking a huge spike in terms of customer engagement and satisfaction and thus the techniques of brand marketing are transforming.
The most incomparable feature of chatbots is their 24*7 availability. It can behave like one of your customer support executive that works for a full day and thus reducing the customer’s query response time. A constant support from an authentic source will make the customer and producers relationship more meaningful and strong. As per the survey of Microsoft in 2014:
“66% of US consumers are willing spend more money on the company that provides them with excellent customer services while 60% of the consumers have not completed the purchase due to poor customer support experience.”
Other common benefits are:
- Improvement in customer self-service engagement.
- Refine customer satisfaction ratings and lower the customer effort scores.
- Dehumanize daily customer questions to allow human agents to focus on other important tasks.
- Reduce costs by diverting chats, email, and calls.
- Produce true data through the conversations.
Examples of Popular Bots
The primary purpose of GrowthBot is marketing and sales, and the platforms for it are Slack, Twitter and Facebook Messenger. It is created by Dharmesh Shah, the founder of Hubspot and is connected with a variety of external sources like Hubspot and Google Analytics. You can ask questions like: “What software do xyz.com is using for sales?” or “What keywords do xyz.com is ranking for?” Its recent ability to inform sophisticated information like PPC’s estimated traffic, and money spent by a company on marketing is a proof that its functionality is growing vigorously. So, instead of asking to a colleague about the organic traffic of last week, you can ask a chatbot about the organic traffic that would respond automatically. Here are the examples of the things that GrowthBot can answer currently in its infant stage.
- Tell me about a person using its email
- Any company’s information
- Top articles of Blog or Website
- Top articles about a topic
- Technology used by any website
- Show me something funny
It can also of the basic tasks by connecting with tools like Google Analytics and your hubspot account. For example:
- Connect my Hubspot account
- Add contact
- Find lead
- Traffic of last week / month / year
- Number of customers we get last month
The interesting part about Google’s Assistant is it’s AI digital assistant on Allo. Unlike Google Now, it allows users to ask queries and receive responses in a two-way conversational way. It generates smart suggestions to users. As the company is using machine learning a decade-long so it’s likely that Allo will be very beneficial to the customers in terms of smart responses. In future, it can become the primary interface for communicating with Google.
Amazon’s Alexa is an intelligent personal assistant that is able to do voice interaction, purchasing items, setting alarms, music playback, playing audiobooks, weather report and real time information like news. It can also control the small devices for home automation. Currently, interaction with Alexa is only available in German and English.
You can make a voice purchase request through Alexa. It will search among the items in order history or Amazon’s highly rated and well-priced products. Alexa will tell you its availability along with price and other specifications. After that, it will ask you to confirm or cancel the order. If Alexa can’t find the requested item because of any reason then it may do one of the following things:
- Add item to Amazon’s cart
- Add item to Alexa’s shopping list
- Find more options
The chatbot created by Techcrunch helps you in getting latest updates about the topics and stories that you care about. You can subscribe to various topics and authors, and the bot will send you latest article about the things you are interested in.
Popular Platforms open for chatbots:
As the Facebook Messenger is rising popularity due to implementation of chatbots, more and more companies are launching their own chatbots on this platform. Once you add these bots in your messenger, you can converse with them and receive information in a more smarter way. Currently, facebook messenger has 34,000 bots and it is assume that there are more to come. It can allow your followers to get answers to FAQs and more. It’s a simple medium to have interaction of your followers with your business to purchase tickets, see a menu, get directions, set up an appointment, etc. And with the advancement, chatbots can now accept payments on Messenger, without sending people to an external website.
The primary use of Slack is for workplace communication. It supports bots and can be used for customer support and collaborating with online communities. In the companies, it has a venture fund investment and enables bots on its platform. It has its own help bot which can occasionally send you helpful messages which you can afterwards reply with the text chat commands. Now the company has finally expanded its original concept and produce an external API that will allow developers to create their bots on Slack through Slack’s app directory.
Microsoft surprised everyone by their Bot Framework release. They have opened the Skype to automated bots with features of text and image messages, similar to other platforms. They have also introduced something new i.e. video bots. Also Bots within the groups are also supported. Skype is the very popular audio and video communication platform and because of this popularity, it will have relatively low competition as compared to other platforms.
WeChat is an early leader in the bot industry and is dominant in China. There are more than 700 million users worldwide. It heavily supports the elements other than text. It also supports mini applications that are embedded in the conversation. Due to these extra features, bot developers should go beyond providing simple text and provide some kind of compelling user experiences.
Chatbots as Marketing Agents:
Business owners can’t afford to ignore chatbots because they are becoming the next big thing in the marketing world. According to a survey by Oracle, 80% of the business leaders said that they already used chatbots or planning to use them by 2020. Additionally, 42% participants believe that automation technologies will improve their customer experience in coming future.
Normally, they are used to answer basic questions like product information, company information or weather forecast.
Many big brands like Uber, Kik and more are using chatbots to interact with the customers and driving more engagement. If the brands know how to use them, they can become an incredibly powerful marketing tool. Let’s see how you can start marketing with chatbots:
Sell Your Products & Services:
Business owners are mostly busy in managing teams, closing deals and executing various entrepreneurial tasks. Because of their extra busy schedule, they can’t give more attention to the customers.
How about cloning yourself? Chatbots can allow you to be in multiples places at the same time. According to the types of products and services, you can use chatbot to sell your products for you. They are online 24/7 and can seriously make money while you sleep.
E Commerce websites are more likely to get benefits from these Bots as they can use bots in nights to generate leads and this will allow the business owners to utilize the human resources in where else.
Some of the chatbots are even capable of taking and processing the payments. This will make easier for the customers to give you money. It only takes a few clicks to handle the transaction by chatbots for you. For example, PayPal has recently launched its very first bot on Slack. With this, you will be easily able to send money between different PayPal accounts, without leaving the Slack Conversation. Now sending money from your PayPal account to your friends account is as easy as typing “PayPal send $50 to @James”.
Get deep customer insights:
Chatbots have the powerful ability to collect deep insights of your customers. You can change the program of your chatbot to monitor the customers’ purchasing patterns and habits. By tracking them, you’ll get to know the products or services they choose and the common issues that arise with the offerings.
One more benefit is that it can store details about the questions asked by the users. This will not only make it capable to answer future questions but also give a better understanding about the customers needs. Another benefit is, using information from the user’s questions to create a content strategy. It will be very beneficial for enhancing engagement.
Marketing gets personalized:
Your brand’s website is not enough to give your customers a more personalized experience. A chatbot engages with the customers more humanly. Addressing customers with their first name or suggesting more products from the information gathered of them, is a good way to personalize the conversation.
Hike in engagement:
Your customer will more likely to buy if you can engage them with your brand. Usually, engagement is defined as the actions like clicking or commenting. But with the chatbots, soon it’s going to change. The meaning of engagement will go beyond just making sales and answering questions. Chatbots will actually help you in creating a brand loyalty.
Developers are improving Chatbots daily by upgrading the services provided by them to the users. They can also help you in positioning the company as a technology leader.
This wave of AI chatbots is just a beginning of innovative marketing revolution. It’s already changing the way people interact with the internet and the businesses interact with their customers. If you’re planning to get into the chatbot game, now is the perfect time. We believe that the chatbots can be a boon to your business. How you use them to boost the sales and marketing is limited by your creativity only.
What do you think about this modern chatbot revolution? Do you use chatbots at your business? Feel free to share your opinions on chatbots in the comments below.