Introduction – what is a chatbot?
A chatbot is a type of software that uses artificial intelligence to simulate a conversation with humans. The use of chatbots has grown as the ubiquity of texting has grown. For example, Facebook Messenger has more than 1.2 billion monthly users.
People have gotten used to chatting online or texting via their phones. This has opened the (virtual) doors for AI tools like chatbots to help businesses meet their customer’s expectations for always-on, instant communication.
In this post, we’ll discuss what consumers expect out of chatbots and list some tips for leveraging them to as part of well-rounded customer communication and sales strategy.
How do consumers use chatbots?
Nearly 40% of online consumers have communicated with a business using a chatbot and this number is likely going to grow. At the moment, chatbots act primarily as a means to an end – a way for businesses to qualify visitors before sending them to the appropriate salesperson.
The 2018 State of Chatbots Report – a collaboration between five different companies in the customer service space - reveals some specifics about consumer chatbot usage and expectations.
The report asked consumers what benefits they most associate with chatbots when communicating with businesses. Here were some of the results:
- About a third of consumers use chatbots as a means for getting connected with a human and only 37% expect to get answers quickly in an emergency.
- Nearly 70% of consumers prefer chatbots over applications when they want quick answers to simple questions.
- Roughly 30% of consumers feel that chatbots can help answer complex questions, offer ease of communication, help consumers register a complaint and provide good customer service.
- Over 50% of Millennials and Baby Boomers list some potential benefits of chatbots as providing 24-hour service, getting a response instantly and answering simple questions
- As evidenced by the above statistics, a chatbot offers an efficient way for companies to answer simple customer questions quickly prior to involving a human agent. Chatbots may even preclude the need for human involvement entirely. Here is a visual example of how Acquire’s chatbot could work in a sales support situation.
Image Source: Acquire
In the above scenario, the customer asks a question and the chatbot responds. If the answer solves the customer’s issue, the chat history becomes part of the chatbot’s knowledge base and thus the bot “learns” how to answer similar questions in the future. If the chatbot doesn’t resolve the issue, the question gets transferred to a human agent.
What do consumers think of chatbots?
The chatbot study revealed that for the most part, consumers haven’t fully embraced chatbot technology in place of human interaction. But it’s also very telling to see the list of common frustrations that consumers have with websites because of this tie directly into their expectations for their experience with a chatbot. Here is a chart that lists the common frustrations consumers have when they interact with a company’s website.
Image Source: Drift.com
The top two issues are that the site is hard to navigate and that it’s difficult to get answers to simple questions. Nearly 30% of respondents also listed that it was hard to find basic details about business and that it takes too long to find services.
All of these frustrations can be easily addressed with the help of a chatbot.
The value of bots for customer service
Chatbots can be a boon to businesses that don’t have the human capacity to instantly respond to every online question.
They can help consumers find Information about a business quickly and provide basic details on products, services, or companies that don’t require interaction with a sales rep.
They can also help route customers or prospects to the right individual if a question is more complex than the chatbot can answer.
But the real value of chatbots may be one that’s difficult to quantify with a statistic. By automating customer support, chatbots save time and increase efficiency for customers and companies. They provide immediate answers at a time when the nature of customer service Is changing due to technology like Instant messaging and social media.
Chatbots can also help automate the sales process by collecting customer data and adding it to a sales database and building a company’s knowledge base.
How you can incorporate chatbots in 2019
Incorporating a chatbot into your business strategy for 2019 Is fairly simple. Tools such as Acquire ’s intelligent Chat Bot, are easy to set up and typically offer affordable monthly price plans depending on your company’s needs.
We recommend using an intelligent chatbot so you can leverage your existing knowledge bases such as FAQs and customer chat histories. This will help create a more relevant (and satisfying) experience for your customers.
Finally, if you’re considering implementing a chatbot, it can be very helpful to create a list of common questions and pain points with feedback from customers or your sales team (or, ideally, from both). This will help to determine whether you actually need a chatbot versus a different customer service tool such as Live Chat or Video Chat.
Chatbots can play a critical role in helping you meet customers’ high expectations for quick response times, but they aren’t (and shouldn’t be) an all or nothing technology.
There’s no question that 24/7 access to a knowledgeable agent – even a robotic one – has the potential to increase customers satisfaction. But it’s also important to keep in mind the role your chatbot will have within your overall customer service process. That means understanding where consumers don’t find chatbots useful such as attempting to purchase an expensive item or service.
By understanding what frustrates your customers when they visiting your website, you can use your chatbot to address the simplest questions and build your knowledge base from there.
An expert search, social and content marketer, Ryan leads Elevation Marketing's digital strategy department, helping brands achieve their business goals, such as improving sales and market share, by developing integrated marketing strategies distinguished by research, storytelling, engagement, and conversion. With a proven track record of energizing brands, engaging audiences and managing multi-discipline marketing teams, Ryan is a respected expert in achieving consistent results through creative design, thought-provoking narratives and innovative problem-solving.